Category Archives: Problem in Context

The researcher identifies what situation she/he wants to solve or to improve

Instead of offering an instructional sequence that “works,” the objective of design research is to offer teachers an empirically grounded theory on how a certain set of instructional activities can work. (Gravemeijer, K)

Identifying the problem and analysing the context

This is phase 1 of the model. The researcher needs to explore and identify opportunities for making changes and creating, crafting a solution. As setting a scope and defining where are you going to do the change, in what particular area of the big picture.


                  CREATIVE + ANALYTICAL

An important aspect in this stage is to do a comprehensive search to inform the work on the ground. We must feed the context we are working in not just with insights of our immediate settings but with insights from other similar ones (literature review and empirical evidence of other similar settings) so the study can be positioned in a way that it can be informative to others that work in similar settings and are looking to use our findings can do so. (Generalizable as far as it can be)

If we are addressing a problem there has to be a clear idea of the route causes of it so we can address them and not just the symptoms. Look in how representative your context is for others dealing with similar kind of problems.
The analysis and description of the context is very important to the designer. It will state the particular conditions for which you are designing for. It is different if the intervention is for in-service teachers working in an online environment or if it is for a whole classroom in a suburban area of New York city or if it is in a working group of international students attending to a summer school in the beautiful and super interesting city of Utrecht 🙂

How will we do this?

  1. Explore the knowledge of the group about what they think is putting a problem in context.  Activity: Please post in this page what do you think is putting a problem in context.
  2. Identifying the situation that we want to address. Think of what opportunity we -researchers- have in this 2 weeks within this working group?
    How to learn about Design Research (DR) in 5 sessions of one and a half hour in a international summer school in Utrecht, where participants want to learn but also enjoy their leisure time after a year of work?
  3. Do a needs analysis with the group looking for opportunities and how to exploit them, challenges and how to address them, constraints and how to satisfy them, needs and how to fulfill them. (Link to the Needs analysis)

Week 1


Day 1

  1. Presentation of the participants
  2. Brainstorming about DR
  3. Writing our draft definition of DR
  4. What is missing in our defintion?
  5. To do (Padlet)
    Focused literature review on DR:
    Design Research (2 papers) and Inspiring example (1 paper for each discipline)
  6. Assigning roles for the work

Day 2

  1. Discuss what we need to know about DR to design a product which could teach, in 5 sessions of 1 1/2 horu, to a group of participants of a summer school, a general idea of what is DR and how is it conducted
  2. Working in groups with the DR papers looking for important aspects of the concept and its features
  3. Putting together ideas about the group discussion
  4. Discussing some principles derived from Authentic Learning and Knowledge Building
  5. Assigning the activity of interviewing experts ( one researcher and one expert designer of teaching materials) and practitioners ( 2master students in the Freudenthal Institute)

Day 3: 

  1. Discuss the interviews and see how they inform our design
  2. Michiel Doorman, one of the authors of the inspiring example: Tool Use and the Development of the Function Concept,  came to visit the group and talked about his experience with DR in general and in the teaching experiment of our inspiring example
  3. Questions of the group
  4. First discussion obut the design principles from the paper