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Towards an Evidence Framework for Design-Based Implementation Research


by Barbara Means & Christopher J. Harris — 2013

Educational interventions typically are complex combinations of human actions, organizational supports, and instructional resources that play out differently in different contexts and with different kinds of students. The complexity and variability of outcomes undermines the notion that interventions either “work” or “don’t work.” Under the design-based implementation research (DBIR) model, the implementation of an intervention in particular settings is itself an object of research and a critical part of understanding how to scale an intervention without diluting its effectiveness. In this chapter, we compare the approach to evidence implicit in the defining features of DBIR to the prevailing evidence standards for educational research promoted by national policy. Our aim is to provide a frame for knowledge building within DBIR that draws from the strengths of both design-based research methods and research designs that permit causal inference about program impacts. Moreover, we endeavor to show how DBIR challenges current thinking about what counts as credible research. We conclude by considering the ways in which DBIR is a departure from much educational research in terms of what it means to conduct research that is useful and usable in education settings.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 112. No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 14, 2013, p. 350-371
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18354, Date Accessed: 11/17/2017 11:39:27 PM

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About the Author
  • Barbara Means
    SRI International
    BARBARA MEANS is co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International. Her research focuses on ways in which technology can support students’ learning of advanced skills and the revitalization of classrooms and schools. Of particular interest is defining issues and approaches for evaluating the implementation and efficacy of technology-supported educational innovations. Her recent publications include “The effectiveness of online and blended learning” (2013, Teachers College Record) with Yukie Toyama, Robert F. Murphy, and Marianne Bakia; “Using large-scale databases in evaluation” (2011, American Journal of Evaluation) with William R. Penuel; and “Technology and education change” (2010, Journal of Research on Teacher Education).
  • Christopher Harris
    SRI International
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTOPHER J. HARRIS is a senior researcher in science education at the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International. His research interests include the design and study of science learning environments that capitalize on innovative technologies, make learning accessible for students of diverse backgrounds and abilities, and support teachers in enacting reform-based instructional practices. Recent publications include “Authentic science learning in primary and secondary classrooms” (2009, in Fostering scientific habits of mind: Pedagogical knowledge and best practices in science education) with Ivan Salinas, and “Examining teachers’ instructional moves aimed at developing students’ ideas and questions in learner-centered science classrooms” (2012, Journal of Science Teacher Education) with Rachel Phillips and William R. Penuel.
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