Scientific base for educational design?

Date: 2018-01-16
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Location: Naturvetarhuset, NA490
The event is for: employees

Educational research has relatively low impact on educational practice, and a basic question is how educational research can become more useful as a basis for educational development? Hiebert and Grouws have concluded in a review 2007 that the state of education was far from providing a coherent and systematic knowledge base that documented robust links between teaching and learning outcomes. Although there are important insights concerning how to provide good learning opportunities, it is methodologically difficult to verify that the desirable learning outcomes result from teaching rather than from other variables. One reason is that mathematics learning is immensely complex and the difficulties in designing and analysing interventions are underestimated. Some of the fundamental questions concern how to base designs of teaching and artefacts in relevant experiential and scientific knowledge, how to evaluate and revise the designs and how to reach conclusions in a format that is both generalizable for building scientific theoretical knowledge and concretely applicable for educational development. Methodological approaches combining these aspects are therefore advocated. For example, in contrast to most methodologies, it is claimed that the theoretical products of design experiments have potential for rapid pay-off for practice, because they are empirically evaluated principles for the development of tasks and teaching. Still, because there is often not enough research to support detailed prescriptions, there is an emphasis more on generally sensitizing the designer to crucial issues than on specifying particular courses of action. For those interested, I can provide references to the claims above.

This background indicates that we (researchers, teachers, educational developers, etc.) may still have a long way to go, in order to 1) develop promising suggestions for educational development, 2) refine them into concrete designs useful for practice, 3) test (including evaluating and revising) the designs in experiments and innovative practice, 4) provide a coherent and systematic knowledge base that documents robust links between teaching and learning outcomes, and 5) reach an agreement on what route(s) of innovation to prioritise.

In order to understand more about issues 1-5 above I approached the following question:
How are research theories and results used in top ranked scientific publications as bases for design of innovative educational artefacts and activities, in research and practice contexts? One general conclusion is that almost all articles read refer to some theory behind the design. However, for most articles explicit descriptions of relations between theory and design are relatively vague and/or implicit, even though we are looking at the better publications.

In the seminar, I will elaborate on the background above, reflect on how we try to work with the development of research-based design principles in the LICR project, present some additional conclusions from the reading of publications mentioned above and conclude the seminar by proposing a (highly tentative) model for thinking about research on educational interventions: The Hypothetical Intervention Trajectory. I hope the main part of the seminar can be in the form of a discussion where we can help each other to better understand how to base educational design on scientific information.

Lecturer: Johan Lithner
Organizer: Umeå Mathematics Education Research Centre (UMERC)
Contact person: Johan Lithner
Event type: Seminar
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