Design research and the solo higher degree research student: Strategies to embed trustworthiness and validity into the research design

Year: 2012

Author: Kennedy-Clark, Shannon

Type of paper: Refereed paper


This paper puts forward a set of criteria for ensuring trustworthiness in design research studies undertaken by Higher Degree Research (HDR) students. Design research is aimed at exploring educational problems and refining theory and practice by defining a pedagogical outcome and is a methodological approach often associated with the Learning Sciences. The emphasis on naturalistic settings is emphasised in discourse on design research as the focus is on developing contextualised, but sharable, theories and cumulative design knowledge in classroom or learning environments. This is articulated by Schoenfeld (2009) who explains that when 'properly construed, a design experiment consists of the creation of an instructional intervention on the basis of a local theory regarding the development of particular understandings'. In this respect, design research combines qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches, this combination of data collection strategies allows for a more robust understanding of the learning environment (Bannan-Ritland, 2003; Brown, 1992; Fishman, Marx, Blumenfeld, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2004; The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003; Wang & Hannafin, 2005). In this paper, how a solo HDR researcher can use a design research approach to maximise the benefits of the methodology without compromising the validity of the research design will be discussed. The criteria put forward to ensure reliability fall into two categories; trustworthiness and the research design. Overall, there is a perceived need and value for HDR students to contribute to the understandings of design studies which are guided by a trustworthy research design.