11-04 Conducting Educational Design Research

Description Course

Ultimately, educational research should be in the service of educational practice. To reach this goal, many researchers are now turning toward design studies to explore how to use and apply emerging theories on curriculum and instructional development. Design studies require interaction and collaboration between researchers, teachers, and other stakeholders. Such interaction opens up possibilities for richer, more relevant research, but also brings along methodological challenges. This course speaks to a fervent call for those engaged in design research to share their emerging insights and discuss common dilemmas associated with this powerful yet challenging approach.

Course objectives

Students completing this course will be able to:

  • Engage in informed debate about the warrants and risks of design research
  • Describe a variety of design research approaches
  • Articulate clearly the reasoning behind their own decision-making with regard to design research
  • Support their arguments through use of relevant literature


Participants are required to:

  • have completed the ICO Introductory Course successfully
  • have clear thoughts about which concepts and methodological concerns are at the core of their research projects
  • have basic knowledge of their own specific subject domain


  • Dr. Susan McKenney (coordinator)
    Department of Curriculum
    Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
    University of Twente
    PO Box 217
    7500 AE Enschede
    The Netherlands
    Phone + 31-53-489-2890
    E-mail susan.mckenney@utwente.nl
  • Dr. Saskia Brand-Gruwel
    Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies
    Open University of the Netherlands
    PO Box 2960
    6401 DL Heerlen
    The Netherlands
    Phone + 31-45-5762148
    E-mail saskia.brand-gruwel@ou.nl


The course will consist of three main types of events: self-reflection; face-to-face meetings; and academic writing. Communication will take place through email, in person and a web-based learning environment (Blackboard). The basic course structure is:

  1. Self-reflection: Participants compose an essay at the start of the course sharing their own perceptions, dilemmas and interests for further study regarding design research. Where feasible, teachers will tailor sessions accordingly.
  2. Face-to-face meetings: Two day-long meetings and one three-day workshop will offer opportunities to: explore design research cases; consider applications of design research approaches; and discuss opportunities and threats inherent in educational design research.
  3. Academic writing: The course will conclude with an academic writing assignment that fits both the goals of the course and the participants stage of research (e.g. research proposal, article or critique). Participants are expected to provide constructive reviews to their peers on this final assignment.


Participants will pass the course if they demonstrate mastery of the course materail in multiple forms. Participants will do this if they:

  • are present at and actively contribute to each of the course meetings;
  • satisfactorily complete the academic writing assignment; and
  • provide feedback to at least two peers on the writing assignments.


A reading list will be made available through the course management system (ICO SURF Groep). To ensure that the reading and discussion topics sufficiently speak to participant needs, this list will be finalized after the reflection essays are submitted.

Dates and location

The course requires a total time investment of 100 hours, of which approximately 40 hours are for attending the meetings, approximately 40 hours to study literature and prepare interim assignments, and approximately 20 hours to write a paper in which course material is applied in relation to the participants own doctoral project or (if not feasible) thematic area. The course meetings will be held on March 22, 2011; April 5, 19, 26, 2011; and May 9 and 10, 2011.

  • March 22: Face-to-face kickoff meeting in Zalencentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht +/- 10.00-16.00
  • April 5: Virtual lecture: guest lecturer Tom Reeves
  • April 12: Virtual lecture: guest lecturer Jan Herrington
  • April 19: Virtual lecture: guest lecturer t.b.a.
  • April 27 and 28: Face-to-face workshop Zalencentrum Vredenburg Utrecht


The deadline for registration for this course is February 8th, 2011. To register, please go to our registration form. The maximum number of participants will be 20.