Teacher-researchers Exploring Design-based Research to Develop Learning Designs in Higher Education Language Teaching

Ulla-Maija Bergroth-Koskinen, Riina Seppälä

agency, design-based research, expertise, affordance, english for academic purposes


Due to constant changes and developments of the 21st century societies and working life, the environments in which learning takes place have changed. Novel ways to research learning in those environments and to explore how learning could be supported with the learning design are needed in order to bring about changes in teaching practices. One of those ways could be design-based research (DBR), an iterative, interventionist and flexible research strategy, which would allow cycles of developing theory of learning as well as implementing design principles in practice. This article describes how we, as teacher-researchers, have adopted a design-based research approach in two separate studies in order to examine learning in authentic contexts in our own work as higher education language teachers. In the first stages of applying the strategy, we are exploring how our current designs work. The data for this exploration was collected from English for Academic Purposes courses in the form of videoed lessons, reflective diaries, interviews, questionnaires, course assignments and feedback to document the designs as well as the learning processes. Through this, we hope to shed light on the affordances that are central in terms of learners’ agency in shaping their own learning paths, and communicating their expertise through language on these example courses. This knowledge could then be utilized in developing an improved learning design. Despite the challenges of implementing this multifaceted approach, design-based research could have potential to provide new insights into learning and teaching and in that way also affect educational practices.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies