Design and Development Research in Instructional Technology

Design and Development Research in Instructional Technology

Nor Aziah Alias (Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia) and Sulaiman Hashim (Aminudin Baki Institute, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-198-6.ch001
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This chapter introduces the reader to design and development research (Richey & Klein, 2007) which is theory driven, action and interventionist orientated, participant centred and collaborative. The features of this research are similarly explicated in the methodology of design experiment (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992), development research (Van Den Akker, 1999), formative research (Reigeluth & Frick, 1999) and design based research (Bannan-Ritland, 2003). Of late, the term “educational design research” has been profusely utilized to signify this approach (Plomp & Nieveen, 2009; Van Den Akker, Gravemeijer, Mckenney & Nieveen, 2006; Vos, DeVesse & Rassul, 2006; Kelly, Lesh & Baek, 2008). Design and development research combines both pragmatic design and traditional research methods and tools such as case study, evaluation, expert reviews and interviews, allowing the appropriate method to be selected for the appropriate task and to answer specific research questions. Most importantly is the potential of design and development research to spur innovation. This chapter will act as an anchor for the rest of this book that aims to illustrate cases put forward by authors from different educational research backgrounds. The aspects of design and development research unique to each chapter are explicated as lessons learned and are expected to guide novice and proficient IT researchers.
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Educational research is generally accepted as the investigation of problems or questions concerned with improvement of education (Sowell, 2001). Historically, it has suffered criticism that it is”too small-scale, too short term, or too jargon-ridden, obscure in its written form and not directly relevant to users” (Mortimore, 1999). It is seen as a detachment from practical endeavours of teachers and other professionals (Lagemann & Shulman, 1999). Lagemann (1999) further contended that studies of education tend to “get no respect”. This is perhaps due to the belief that research seldom leads to improvements in practice. This is echoed by Beveridge (1998) who stated that one of the key arguments against research within the educational setting is that it focuses on educational problems rather than on solutions. Educational research proposals tend to be highly speculative, methodologically imprecise or simply duplicating work already being carried out elsewhere (Gray, 1998). Research based innovations in classrooms have often been short-lived and instances of effective linkages between research and practice have therefore gone unnoticed (Lagemann, 1999).

In recent years, the value of educational research has been further scrutinised by authors such as McWilliam and Lee (2006) and Karran (2009). Reeves (2000) in particular pointed out the predicaments of educational technology research that were claimed to be of poor quality and to provide disappointing research syntheses. Lack of scientific rigour and lack of utility for practitioners are also stated as having some bearing on the quality of educational research (Karran, 2009).

In terms of approaches, educational research has been plagued by issues of positivist versus constructivist, a situation termed as false dualism by Badley (2003). Despite the emergence of mixed method research, the dichotomy of quantitative and qualitative approaches subsists in most educational research arena. Authors such as Buckingham (2005, as cited in Mc William & Lee, 2006) suggests that only statistically anchored, generalizable research are valid and of a higher authority compared to qualitative research. McWilliam and Lee (2006) however argued that the problem with educational research is not due to the lack of statistically robust experimental research or the proliferation of small isolated qualitative case studies but rather a failure of research imagination. The suggestions put forward by Gray (1998) years ago should be acknowledged. He contends that for educational research to sustain its vigour, it needs to (1) develop strategies for promoting theoretical advancement; (2) initiate ways to improve methodological contributions; and (3) demonstrate some practical significance to the wider world. Badley (2003) further supports an eclectic and a pragmatic approach that he describes as an inquiry intertwined with action and reflection in and on action. The link between research and practice is thus fundamental. We can no longer be contented with “research that arose out of workplace issues but with motivations of a personal nature” (Australian Higher Education Series Report, 2001) or research conducted so the researchers get to publish in high impact journals in fear of their academic careers suffering inevitable death. As stated by Reeves (2000), “it is time to give graduate students and young researchers the guidance and support they need to pursue development goals”. The foundation of theory and principles to guide practice thus becomes even more essential.

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