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Teaching as a Design Process: A Framework for Design-based Research in Engineering Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Faculty Development I

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1468.1 - 26.1468.11



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Paper Authors


Margret Hjalmarson George Mason University

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Margret Hjalmarson is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University and currently a Program Officer in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings at the National Science Foundation. Her research interests include engineering education, mathematics education, faculty development and mathematics teacher leadership.

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Jill K Nelson George Mason University

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Craig Lorie George Mason University

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Teaching as a Design Process: A Framework for Design-based Research in Engineering EducationMotivation & BackgroundFraming teaching as a design process, Laurillard explains how teaching is more like engineeringthan science (2012). She selected this metaphor for teaching to provoke a discussion in the spaceof instructional technology, but it is appropriate to a discussion of teaching even withouttechnology. Expanding on this sense of teaching as a design process, we can consider design-based research as a framework for organizing research studies in engineering. There have beenrelatively few studies in engineering education that characterize themselves as design researchstudies, but it is an expanding framework within the education research community (Anderson &Shattuck, 2012; Kelly, 2014). This paper uses one small-scale design-based research study offaculty development to explain the principles and practices that can make up a design-basedresearch study of teaching and learning. Design plays a role at two levels in the process. At thefirst level, instructors are designing and implementing new teaching strategies. At the secondlevel, the researchers are designing a model for teaching development for faculty. In addition, weexplain how teaching as a design process comes to be important when considering teachingdevelopment initiatives for faculty.MethodologyFour teaching design groups, each composed of 4-7 instructors, met regularly over the course ofan academic year. We collected meeting notes, group leader reflections and participant surveysin order to document the design and implementation of the faculty teaching design groups.ResultsConsistent with a design process metaphor, the group leaders reported on three distinct phases intheir group’s work: planning/design, implementation, and reflection. These three phases coincidein some cases with semester or quarter-long phases in which faculty are preparing for a course,teaching a course, and reflecting back on a course. At a different level, the research team wasdesigning the faculty development process via teaching design groups. Design involvedconsidering composition of groups, frequency of meetings, and structure of scaffolding, whilereflection took place through analysis of group leader and participant reflections.Conclusions & SignificanceDesign-based research in engineering education would seem to be a natural fit and could providea framework for considering teaching as a design process. This could inform two types ofeducation research endeavors. First, individual instructors engaged in a scholarship of teachingcan think about how they design and document learning in their settings. Another arena forconsidering design-based research is in the incorporation of online tools and technologies(Bannan-Ritland, 2003; Kelly, 2014). For faculty teaching development, a design metaphoremphasizes that teaching is inevitably a work in progress that is always changing and shiftingdepending on context, new innovations, changing requirements, and other constraints. Inaddition, faculty who may be new to teaching innovations can consider how to adjust practicewithin current contexts in a systematic but reasonable fashion.ReferencesAnderson, T., & Shattuck, J. (2012). Design-Based Research A Decade of Progress in Education Research? Educational Researcher, 41(1), 16–25. doi:10.3102/0013189X11428813Bannan-Ritland, B. (2003). The Role of Design in Research: The Integrative Learning Design Framework. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 21 –24. doi:10.3102/0013189X032001021Kelly, A. E. (2014). Design-based research in engineering education: Current state and next steps. In A. Johri & B. M. Olds (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of engineering education research (pp. 497–418). New York: Cambridge University Press.Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. New York: Routledge.

Hjalmarson, M., & Nelson, J. K., & Lorie, C. (2015, June), Teaching as a Design Process: A Framework for Design-based Research in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24805

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