Morning - I've been reading through our conversations again and was struck by how rich it's been. I'm sharing some summary thoughts here, but there are so many threads and details to this forum, I would love to hear what you got out of this, your parting thoughts, or summary reflections.
Our week-long conversation often came back to a core set of questions, What’s the deal? (thank you Kevin!) What do DBR or DBIR approaches bring to informal STEM learning that we didn’t already have? And, how do we apply DBR and DBIR to informal STEM learning environments?
I saw many examples of practice-driven research and design iteration that were valuable, but admittedly not exactly DBR or DBIR. There was some agreement that the practical relevance of research and a focus on the design and study of the problems of practice faced by educators was not enough to categorize research as DBR or DBIR. There was also some agreement that, at times, definitions of DBR and DBIR--such as studying what interventions work, but also what works for whom and under what conditions--were difficult to distinguish from definitions of formative evaluation or a strong iterative prototyping approach.
So then what is distinctive about using the DBR or DBIR approach? First, participants pointed to a necessary balance of theory building and design iteration. Forum participants had a number of examples of iterative design research that included research-practice collaboration. But theory building was the characteristic that distinguished these projects from DBR and DBIR.
Second, participants pointed to addressing a question of strong interest to both practitioner and researcher as a distinguishing characteristic of DBR and DBIR. Quite a few project examples involved researchers and practitioners willing to compromise to address a common question that would further a collaboration. A number of the examples that came up were admittedly focused more on the interest of the practitioner or researcher, so wouldn't necessarily be categorized as DBR or DBIR.
Our forum conversation spotlights why funders would be interested in supporting a specific research approach like DBR and DBIR. The power of these approaches is the balance of advancing theory and improving practice around a question that *both* researchers and practitioners care deeply about. When you find the rare research questions that exist at the intersection of this Venn diagram, you’ve found the questions that could transform our field.