Development of a design-based learning curriculum through design-based research for a technology-enabled science classroom

  • Paul Kim
  • Esther Suh
  • Donggil Song
Development Article


This exploratory study provides a deeper look into the aspects of students’ experience from design-based learning (DBL) activities for fifth grade students. Using design-based research (DBR), this study was conducted on a series of science learning activities leveraging mobile phones with relevant applications and sensors. We observed 3 different DBL workshops to understand potential learning effects and develop a curriculum to be reiterated as part of the DBR. The students who participated in this study were (1) provided with resources for their own experiment design, (2) encouraged to engage in problem solving by collective reasoning and solution designs, and (3) scaffolded in documenting, evaluating, and reporting scientific phenomena embedded in a thematic integrative education setting. This exploratory research model may be appropriate in addressing the issues of making science learning more approachable, interesting, enjoyable, and contextual while determining the efficacy of the pedagogy, resources, and conditions needed for the continuous curriculum enhancement process. Key findings suggest that emergence, evolution, and permeation could be promoted in the DBL environment as a pedagogical perspective.


Design-based learning Design-based research Science education Mobile technology 


  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1989). Science for all Americans: A project 2061 report on literacy goals in science, mathematics, and technology. Washington, DC: AAAS.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, K. J. (2012). Science education and test-based accountability: Reviewing their relationship and exploring implications for future policy. Science Education, 96(1), 104–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. L., & Barnett, M. (2013). Learning physics with digital game simulations in middle school science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(6), 914–926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Annetta, L. A., Frazier, W. M., Folta, E., Holmes, S., Lamb, R., & Cheng, M. T. (2013). Science teacher efficacy and extrinsic factors toward professional development using video games in a design-based research model: The next generation of STEM learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(1), 47–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atuahene-Gima, K. (2005). Resolving the capability-Rigidity paradox in new product innovation. Journal of Marketing, 69(4), 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barab, S., & Dede, C. (2007). Games and immersive participatory simulations for science education: An emerging type of curricula. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(1), 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barak, M., & Raz, E. (1998). Hot air balloons: Project centered study as a bridge between science and technology education. Science Education, 84(1), 27–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barron, B. J., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., & Bransford, J. D. (1998). Doing with understanding: Lessons from research on problem-and project-based learning. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3–4), 271–311.Google Scholar
  9. Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (Eds.). (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  11. California Department of Education. (2000). Science content standards for California public schools: Kindergarten through grade twelve. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.Google Scholar
  12. Christiaans, H., & Venselaar, K. (2005). Creativity in design engineering and the role of knowledge: Modelling the expert. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 15(3), 217–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coble, J. (2006). Curricular constraints, high-stakes testing and the reality of reform in high school science classrooms (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database (UMI No. 3207430).Google Scholar
  14. Doppelt, Y. (2003). Implementing and assessing project-based learning in a flexible environment. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 13(3), 255–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doppelt, Y. (2009). Assessing creative thinking in design-based learning. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 19(1), 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Doppelt, Y., Mehalik, M. M., Schunn, C. D., Silk, E., & Krysinski, D. (2008). Engagement and achievements: A case study of design-based learning in a science context. Journal of Technology Education, 19(2), 22–39.Google Scholar
  17. Duran, M., Höft, M., Lawson, D. B., Medjahed, B., & Orady, E. A. (2014). Urban high school students’ IT/STEM learning: Findings from a collaborative inquiry-and design-based afterschool program. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23(1), 116–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Duschl, R. (2008). Science education in three-part harmony: Balancing conceptual, epistemic, and social learning goals. Review of Research in Education, 32(1), 268–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fortus, D., Dershimer, R. C., Krajcik, J., Marx, R. W., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2004). Design-based science and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(10), 1081–1110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fortus, D., Krajcik, J., Dershimer, R. C., Marx, R. W., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2005). Design-based science and real-world problem-solving. International Journal of Science Education, 27(7), 855–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gómez Puente, S. M., van Eijck, M., & Jochems, W. (2013). Facilitating the learning process in design-based learning practices: an investigation of teachers’ actions in supervising students. Research in Science & Technological Education, 31(3), 288–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Katzmann, J. M. (2007). The influences of implementing state-mandated science assessment on teacher practice. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database (UMI No. 3280260).Google Scholar
  23. Ketelhut, D. J., Nelson, B. C., Clarke, J., & Dede, C. (2010). A multi-user virtual environment for building and assessing higher order inquiry skills in science. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 56–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim, P., Miranda, T., & Olaciregui, C. (2008). Pocket school: Exploring mobile technology as a sustainable literacy education option for underserved indigenous children in Latin America. International Journal of Educational Development, 28(4), 435–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Laru, J., Järvelä, S., & Clariana, R. B. (2012). Supporting collaborative inquiry during a biology field trip with mobile peer-to-peer tools for learning: a case study with K-12 learners. Interactive Learning Environments, 20(2), 103–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Loh, B., Reiser, B. J., Radinsky, J., Edelson, D. C., Gomez, L. M., & Marshall, S. (2001). Developing reflective inquiry practices: A case study of software, the teacher, and students. In K. Crowley, C. Schunn, & T. Okada (Eds.), Designing for science: Implications from everyday, classroom, and professional settings (pp. 279–324). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Looi, C. K., Seow, P., Zhang, B., So, H. J., Chen, W., & Wong, L. H. (2010). Leveraging mobile technology for sustainable seamless learning: A research agenda. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2), 154–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lyons, T. (2006). Different countries, same science classes: Students’ experiences of school science in their own words. International Journal of Science Education, 28(6), 591–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1995). Designing qualitative research. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Marulcu, I., & Barnett, M. (2013). Fifth graders’ learning about simple machines through engineering design-based instruction using LEGO™ materials. Research in Science Education, 43(5), 1825–1850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Minner, D. D., Levy, A. J., & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction - what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984–2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 474–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  33. Neber, H., & Schommer-Aikins, M. (2002). Self-regulated science learning with highly gifted students: The role of cognitive, motivational, epistemological, and environmental variables. High Ability Studies, 13(1), 59–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nouri, J., Cerrato-Pargman, T., & Zetali, K. (2013). Human-Computer Interaction. Applications and Services (pp. 464–473)., Mobile inquiry-based learning Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2008). 21st century learning: Research, innovation and policy directions from recent OECD analyses. Retrieved May 1, 2014 from
  36. Osborne, J. (2010). Arguing to learn in science: The role of collaborative, critical discourse. Science, 328(5977), 463–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shen, J., Jing, L., Chang, H., & Namdar, B. (2014). Technology-enhanced, modeling-based instruction (TMBI) in science education. In J. M. Spector, M. D., Merrill, J. Elen, & M. J., Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communication and technology (4th ed., Chap. 46). New York: SpringerGoogle Scholar
  38. Silk, E. M., Schunn, C. D., & Cary, M. S. (2009). The impact of an engineering design curriculum on science reasoning in an urban setting. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(3), 209–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith, L. K., & Southerland, S. A. (2007). Reforming practice or modifying reforms? Elementary teachers’ response to the tools of reform. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 44(3), 396–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Svihla, V., & Linn, M. C. (2012). A design-based approach to fostering understanding of global climate change. International Journal of Science Education, 34(5), 651–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Taylor, A. R., Jones, M. G., Broadwell, B., & Oppewal, T. (2008). Creativity, inquiry or accountability? Scientists’ and teachers’ perceptions of science education. Science Education, 92(6), 1058–1075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Waks, S. (1995). Curriculum design: From an art towards a science. Hamburg: Tempus Publications.Google Scholar
  43. Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wissehr, C., Concannon, J., & Barrow, L. H. (2011). Looking back at the Sputnik era and its impact on science education. School Science and Mathematics, 111(7), 368–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations