Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sketching my approach in DBR

Design-based Research (DBR) is the approach chosen for my study. It provides a framework for the development of innovative improvements to pedagogical practices through the relationships linking theory, products and practice. The iterative cycles of evaluation and refinement are well suited to my teaching and research as we have five blocks of students through the year all going through the same teaching rotations in different time slots. DBR is a pragmatic approach that “focuses on understanding the messiness of real-world practice, with context being a core part of the story and not an extraneous variable to be trivialized” (Barab & Squire 2004:3).

Changes in Obstetrics learning need to be a collaborative effort from numerous stakeholders. Herrington, Reeves and Oliver (2010:189) point out that DBR offers opportunities for “supporting human interactions and nurturing learning communities”. The goal of DBR is improve practice while advancing theory that will be valuable to others.

The image above is a summary of my research project so far. It was created on the Notability App on my iPad while I was sitting on the aeroplane flying home to Cape Town. This was in preparation for our discussions with Prof Jan Herrington from Perth. Among other points related to DBR, she encouraged me to use tables. She also pointed out the importance of clearly identifying my design draft principles for this project. One of the most powerful aspects of using DBR is its emphasis on sharing and disseminating findings and principles (Wang & Hannafin 2005). The value of design principles lies in the contribution they make to the professional community.

Reeve’s model (2006)

Solutions / improvements
Implement, review & refine in cycles
Principles & artefacts
  • Silenced student voices
  • Fear
  • Curriculum as task driven
  • Disrespect in Obstetrics
Draft design principles and guidelines
  1. enable collaboration
  2. elicit articulation
  3. provide facilitation
  4. offer feedback
  5. encourage reflection
  6. demonstrate diffraction
  7. engage with relationality
  8. illuminate affect
  1. Explore the affordances of
Implementation with data collection
Evaluation after each student block through self and student feedback

Tools used
  • WhatsApp
  • wordles
  • Google drive - forms, sheets, docs, slides
During rotation
  • critical friends
  • tips for colleagues
  • articulation & reflection
Interactive workshop
  • expert’s input
  • roleplays, poems etc
  • drawings
  • mindfulness exercise
  • WhatsApp wordle
Extra resources created
  • video recordings
  • iPad apps for blog images
Principles to be expanded
  • Co-constitution of knowledge
  • Exploring interrelationships
  • Developing collaborative spaces
  • Engaging with social injustices
  • Principles related to new materialism that decentre the human

E-learning resource to be published as an OER including
  • expert images
  • video recordings on YouTube from HOD
  • website on probing professionalism
  • more to be developed
  • Literature
  • Survey senior students
  • Interviews with educators
  • Drawings
  • Barad’s sociomaterialism
  • Deleuze & Guattari’s rhizome
  • affordances of emerging technologies
  • group work

Data collection & analysis through a diffractive methodology
Artefacts that are emerging
  • Students’ shared reflections using the Six Step Spiral for Critical Reflexivity (SSS4CR)
  • Student roleplays/videos/poems
  • Storytelling
  • Drawings
  • Wordles
  • Blog
To develop a socially just pedagogy
To use face2face and online engagement
Using different groups of students to iteratively develop intervention and theory - 40 in each block every 8 weeks (5 blocks annually)
  1. Ethics approval received from UCT & UWC
  2. To share design principles rather than just the teaching improvement
  3. Consultative process with other actors and stakeholders

Barab, S., & Squire, K. 2004. Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13:1:1-14.

Reeves, T. C. 2006. Design research from a technology perspective. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational design research. London: Routledge.

Reeves, T., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. 2005. Design research: A socially responsible approach to instructional technology research in higher education. Journal of computing in higher education, 16:2: 96-115.

Wang, F. & Hannafin, M. 2005. Design-Based Research and Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments. Educational Technology Research and Development. 53:4:5–23.  


  1. It would be useful to have some more context / content around the Reeve's table; the argument isn't totally clear to someone like me, who has never encountered Reeves /this table and is new to DBR.

  2. Thanks for your comment Sue. I've now changed the title of this blog; DBR is an approach rather than a methodology, according to Jan Herrington. Let's discuss more with dogs and coffee.

  3. A really clear and compact way of explaining the approach and its application!