In this module, we have spent significant time considering the implementation phases of design based research and how it relates to our literature reviews. Given that this is the third doctoral level methods course I have taken, I expected this portion of the experience to be easy. Of course, as has happened so many times with DBR, I found it more challenging than past study design projects.
I began planning my DBR implementation with the end (evaluation & reflection) and beginning (analysis & exploration) in mind to make the process a bit easier. Since integrating media literacy into my college history courses is something I already wanted to do, I knew which questions I’d have to answer before proceeding. Determining where students are with their digital media skills and faculty beliefs and knowledge of media literacy was an easy starting place. The literature on both faculty and students indicates a lack of knowledge and comfort that would have to be identified and addressed before progressing. The end wasn’t too difficult either – I knew that any study I conducted on media literacy integration would require the development of interventions and a determination of how effective they were to influencing student media literacy skills. Ultimately evaluating those outcomes and making decisions on adjustments when they do not meet expectations is the goal of the entire study.
The middle portion – design and construction – is the hard part of envisioning and planning when conducting a DBR study. Since the design and construction phases are so closely linked to the analysis and exploration phase, even the best made plans can go awry. In all my years of working with teachers – as an educational consultant and instructional coach – I know how quickly plans and reality can diverge. As such, I am always hesitant to draft plans without a deeper understanding of conditions. Since my topic is relatively new and weaves several disciplines together, I cannot gain that deeper understanding from the literature. There are simply too many gaps. It must come from the analysis and exploration.
I was able to come up with a plan for the design and construction of my study. However, I had some concerns about getting a study like this through an institutional review board. What is the best procedure for conveying plans of study when you do not quite yet know exactly how they will occur? If your plans change due to new information discovered in the analysis and exploration phase, do you have to return to the institutional review board with revisions? Will an institutional review board even approve a study of this nature when the steps are not concrete and clear from the beginning?
This is a study that I do intend to pursue – in fact I’ve already submitted a proposal to present it with colleagues at an OER conference this fall. I just worry about our capacity to get approval to conduct such an in-depth, sensitive study – especially when both students and faculty are involved.
McKenney, S., & Reeves, T. C. (2012). Conducting educational design research. New York, NY: Routledge.