Lecture at the Graduate School of Teaching Processes - Invited Speaker in the Lecture Seriers 'Teaching and Learning' location:University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau in der Pfalz, Germany date:2008
Although educational research in general and research on learning and instruction in particular have developed tremendously over the past decades, and although investigators often claim that they intend to contribute to the improvement of education, complaints about the deep gap between theory and research, on the one hand, and classroom practices, on the other, are still the order of the day. One approach that has been put forward as a potential lever to overcome the theory-practice gap consists in the conduct of so-called design-based research, that aims at the development of a design science of education which can guide the development and the implementation of novel powerful learning environments. In this presentation I will first briefly discuss the use of design experiments as lever for the simultaneous pursuit of theory building and practice innovation. Then, as an illustration a design experiment in the domain of learning and teaching mathematical problem solving will be presented. In the final section two criticisms of design-based research will be discussed. First, recently the potential of design experiments to achieve both goals — theory building and practice innovation - simultaneously has been disputed. Second, design experiments are criticized from a methodological perspective for lack of control and randomization resulting in confounding of variables. It will be argued in this presentation that under certain conditions design-based research can accommodate both main objections.