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Effective Design-based Implementation Research Using Complex Systems Modeling (Fundamental)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Modeling, Inquiry, Engineering Literacy & Argumentation

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Roxanne A. Moore Georgia Institute of Technology

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Roxanne Moore is currently a Research Engineer at Georgia Tech with appointments in the school of Mechanical Engineering and the Center for Education Integrating Mathematics, Science, and Computing (CEISMC). She is involved with engineering education innovations from K-12 up to the collegiate level. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2012.

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Michael Helms Georgia Institute of Technology


Marion Usselman Georgia Institute of Technology

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Marion Usselman is a Principal Research Scientist and Associate Director for Development and Educational Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC). She earned her Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Johns Hopkins University and has been with CEISMC since 1996 developing and managing university-K-12 educational partnership programs. She currently leads up a team of educators and educational researchers who are exploring how to integrate science, mathematics and engineering within authentic school contexts, are developing and implementing educational innovations, and are researching the nature of the enactment and the resultant student learning.

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Design and implementation of educational interventions has evolved over decades, with more consideration being given to the complexity and variability of schools and school systems. Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR) provides a framework for addressing complexity by engaging stakeholders at multiple levels, forming meaningful partnerships, and using iterative design to create sustainable, scalable innovations.

In this work, techniques from system dynamics and agent-based modeling are applied during the design and implementation of a STEAM-based educational intervention in a high school computer science classroom. While the primary focus of the modeling effort is to identify key attributes of school settings that are likely to impact intervention sustainability, the modeling efforts also impacted the discussions and decisions among the broader intervention teams, informing curriculum changes and changes to professional development along the way.

The primary focus of this paper is a qualitative analysis of the impacts of the modeling efforts on the intervention team. A thematic analysis of interview data from the intervention team members is presented to answer the question of how the modeling effort affected team thinking, discussions, and decisions related to the intervention design and implementation. Initial results show that certain language from the modeling efforts became pervasive throughout the team, even reaching members of the team who were unfamiliar with the models themselves. In addition, several team members are able to identify specific decisions made as a result of a shift in thinking triggered by the models. These results have broad impacts for DBIR and represent a first step in codifying a process for integrating modeling efforts within DBIR contexts.

Moore, R. A., & Helms, M., & Usselman, M. (2018, June), Effective Design-based Implementation Research Using Complex Systems Modeling (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30354

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