Design-based Research Explained

Design-based research, in some cases, is also known as design research, development/developmental research, design studies, design experiments, formative research, formative evaluation, engineering research and educational design research. It has dual goals - artifact (product) and theory. Here are what famous experts on research methodology say about design-based research.


The most accepted and clear definition of design-based research is explained by Barab and Squire (2004)1. They define design research as:

a series of approaches, with the intent of producing new theories, artifacts, and practices that account for and potentially impact learning and teaching in naturalistic settings.

From previous definition, Akker,, (2006)2 explains some characteristics of design-based research as follows:

  1. interventionist: it is aimed at designing an intervention in solving educational problem
  2. iterative: it iteratively applies cyclical process of 'design - evaluation - revision'
  3. process-oriented: it focuses on understanding and improving intervention; input-output measurement is avoided
  4. utility-oriented: it focuses on product's/artifact's practicality
  5. theory-oriented: design is based on theoretical prepositions and field testing of design contributes to theory building

Another essential point regarding the characteristics of design-based research is that it runs in natural setting.

By qualitative practitioners, the term ‘natural setting’ in design-based research must be confusing. First, it deals with intervention. Later, it runs in natural setting. The term natural setting in this case refers to

Visscher-Voerman explained 4 paradigms of design-based research, they are:

  1. instrumental paradigm: planning-by-objectives;
  2. communicative paradigm: communication to reach consensus;
  3. pragmatic paradigm: interactive and repeated tryout and revision;
  4. artistic paradigm: creation of products based on connoisseurship.

  1. DOI: 10.1207/s15327809jls1301_1 ↩︎

  2. ISBN: 978–0–203–08836–4 ↩︎

  3. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-011-4255-7 (p. 17-24) ↩︎