Design-Based Research

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Design-based research is a methodological framework that looks at what could be rather than study current or past situations (Bakker, 2018). It requires both the design to be research-based, and the research to be design-based. This page shortly summarises key points from Bakker's guidebook (2018), which you are advised to read in full if you decide this is the right approach for you.


Plomp (2010) defined educational design-based research as "the systematic study of designing, developing and evaluating educational interventions, – such as programs, teaching-learning strategies and materials, products and systems – as solutions to such problems, which also aims at advancing our knowledge about the characteristics of these interventions and the processes to design and develop them" (p. 9).

Mintrop (2016) defined educational design as "an intervention design consists of a sequence of activities that together or in combination intervene in existing knowledge, beliefs, dispositions, or routines in order to prompt new learning that leads to new practices" (p. 133).

Regarding the final product, Mintrop (2016) argues that the purpose of design-based research is "to discover an ensemble of tools, materials, tasks, organizational structures, and any other activities that are apt to set in motion a process of learning that improves on a focal problem of practice" (p. 219).


  • Plomp, T. (2010). Educational design research: An introduction. In T. Plomp & N. M. Nieveen (Eds.), An introduction to educational design research (pp. 9–35). Enschede, the Netherlands: SLO.
  • Mintrop, R. (2016). Design-based school improvement: A practical guide for education leaders. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Bakker, Arthur. (2018). Design Research in Education: A Practical Guide for Early Career Researchers.