Curricular Design Research and the Challenges of Educational Change

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1 Curricular Design Research and the Challenges of Educational Change SLO Netherlands institute for curriculum development Keynote Nienke Nieveen, January 19-20, 2015 International Symposium on Didactical Design Research TU Dortmund University

2 Central tasks of SLO Designing and validating national curriculum frameworks (examination programs, core objectives/attainment targets/standards) Designing and evaluating exemplary elaborations of curricula (at the levels of school, subjects, lessons)

3 From didactical problems Algebraic expressions Atmospheric phenomena Esthetics in music Arithmetical understanding Functional dependencies Violence in Psalms Complexities in Chemistry Percentages Imagination of resurrection Quadratic functions Statistical reasoning Arithmetic equalities Life-world tasks... Didactical design research To a twofold contribution: Design results e.g. Learning arrangements + Research results e.g. Domain-specific theories

4 Next step? Change in education is easy to propose, hard to implement, and extraordinarily difficult to sustain Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D. (2006). Sustainable leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Need for a broader (curricular) perspective for systematically addressing educational challenges

5 Next step? How to ensure that the practical and theoretical results will reach practice? How to implementation/tra nsfer/diffuse/scaleup? Curriculum design research Design results High quality/robust interventions that are usable in various classroom practices + Research results Design principles (what are key characteristics and how to design these interventions; why) + Implementation encouragement Professional development of those involved; partnerships at the system level

6 This contribution The concept of curriculum Quality criteria for a robust curriculum Role of research in curricular design research Final remarks

7 Curriculum

8 Curriculum Plan for learning; with the following components:

9 Curriculum levels SUPRA: international (e.g. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) MACRO: national, (e.g. attainment targets, syllabi) MESO: school/institute (School-specific choices) (schoolplan) MICRO: class, group (text book, modules) NANO: learner, individual level (personal learning plan; life long learning)

10 Partners at the system level

11 Quality criteria for a robust curriculum

12 What is a good quality curriculum?

13 Criteria for good quality curricula Relevance There is a need for it and its design is based on state-of-the-art (scientific) knowledge Consistency It is logically designed (see spider s web) Practicality It is usable in the settings for which it has been designed Effectiveness Using it is resulting in desired outcomes

14 Role of research in curricular design research

15 Role of research in curricular design research to strengthen the quality of curriculum interventions + understanding Analysis activities Preliminary research: problem analysis, literature review, context analysis, target group analysis; Development of a conceptual or theoretical framework for the study + tentative design principles Analysis as part of the development process Evaluation activities Formative evaluation ('to improve') during the process aimed at: determining the quality of tentative products and its underlying understanding/tentative design principles generating suggestions for improvement Summative evaluation ('to prove') at the conclusion of a process to: determine the effectiveness of the final product and its underlying understanding/design principles

16 (Nieveen, 1997)

17 Curricular design research: Successive approximation of twofold high-quality results Product Design principles Key role for formative evaluation, but how to organize that? Key role for formative evaluation, but how to organize that?

18 Formative evaluation methods Screening members of the design research team check the design with a checklist containing required characteristics of the product (expert appraisal) a group of experts (for instance, subject matter experts, instructional design experts, teachers) react on a prototype of the product Walkthrough the design research team and representatives of the target group simulate the use of the product Micro-evaluation a small group of the target users use parts of the product outside its normal user setting Try-out the target group uses the product in practice

19 Selecting evaluation methods DESIGN STAGES Design proposal Global design Partly detailed product Completed product Implemented product QUALITY Relevance Screening Screening Screening Screening Consistency Screening Screening Screening Screening Practicality Expected Screening Screening Walk through Walk through Actual Micro-evaluation Micro-evaluation Try-out Effectiveness Expected Screening Screening Actual Micro-evaluation Micro-evaluation Try-out Survey (quasi-) experiment

20 and evaluation activities Evaluation method Possible activities for the gathering of information Screening Using a checklist Interviewing Walkthrough Using a checklist Interviewing Observing Micro-evaluation Observing Interviewing Administering a questionnaire Testing or requesting a learning report Try-out Observing Interviewing Administering a questionnaire Testing or requesting a learning report Requesting logbooks

21 Curricular design research = the systematic analysis, design and evaluation of educational interventions with the dual aim of 1) generating research-based solutions for complex problems in educational practice, and 1) advancing our knowledge base about the characteristics of these interventions and the processes of designing and developing them.

22 Final remarks

23 Implications of curricular design research approach Encouraging future implementation (starting from day 1) Addressing many levels (systemic innovation) Involving many partners (broadening support and ownership) Contributing to professional development of all participants Cooperative spirit and motivation!

24 Curricular design research: similarities to curriculum design + much more prominent: Preliminary research Systematic problem analysis, context analysis, user group analysis Systematic review of literature and promising examples, expert consultation Theoretical embedding Systematic application of knowledge in design decisions Empirical research Systematically planned and conducted evaluation in order to improve the quality of the intervention and to feed the underlying design decisions Documentation, analysis, reflection Attention to systematic documentation, analysis and reflection on the process and results in order to advance understanding/knowledge (embedded in design principles).

25 Educational Design Research: The value of variety Design research Effectiveness research Didactical design research Curricular design research Practical aim Specific learning arrangements for specific learners Interventions in use in several contexts/classrooms Evidence-based change at large scale Knowledge claim/scientific output Domain-specific instruction theories Broadly applicable design principles Evidence of impact of intervention Methodological emphasis Iterative design with small-scale testing in research setting Iterative development with formative evaluation in various user settings Large scale, comparative field experiments (cf. alpha-testing with learner focus) (cf. beta-testing in various classrooms/schools) (cf. gamma-testing with system-wide focus) Adapted from: Nieveen, N., McKenney, S., & Akker, J. van den (2006). Educational design research: The value of variety. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney, & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational Design Research (pp ). Londen: Routledge.

26 More information... Nienke Nieveen: part A and part B (51 cases)

27 extra

28 Heuristic format for design principle If you want to design intervention X [for purpose/function Y in context Z] then you are best advised to give that intervention the characteristics C 1, C 2,, C m [substantive emphasis] and to do that via procedures P 1, P 2,, P n [procedural emphasis] because of theoretical arguments T 1, T 2,, T p and empirical arguments E 1, E 2,, E q

29 Methodological issues Methodological pluralism: methods depend on aim and stage Relevance and consistency: focus groups with critical friends/experts Practicality: powerful combination of observation and interviews Attention to early indicators of effectiveness of learning (at various levels) Investments in transparency, plausibility, trustworthiness, reconstructiveness of arguments and findings

30 Generalization approach Mainly analytical: readers/users make own efforts for transferring research findings to own context researchers can facilitate through: theoretical articulation of design principles applied, plus reflection on results careful description of evaluation procedures, results, and implementation context organize discussion with audiences about possibilities for generalization Built-in transfer through cooperative strategy by many partners in multiple roles, in expanding networks (professional learning communities)

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