Using design-based research to explore the influence of context in promoting pedagogical reform
Keywords:pedagogical reform, developing countries, context, design-based research, participatory research
Many developing countries are seeking to improve the quality of education by promoting the use of learner-centred pedagogy as part of system wide reform. Yet many studies reveal a gap between what is envisaged in policy and what happens in practice and the inherent limitations of uncritical adoption of 'best practice' from elsewhere into local contexts. Therefore design-based research (DBR), as an interventionist approach, was selected to investigate the conditions under which the innovation of learner-centred education can be implemented in the authentic setting of a Maldivian island school. The paper elaborates the rationale underpinning this choice and a discussion of the defining features of DBR as they applied in this study: acknowledging the importance of context; facilitating collaboration between researcher and participants; and attending to a theoretical output of the research. The participatory approach which underpinned how DBR was utilised in the study and its implications for enhancing the context-appropriateness of and teachers' engagement with the reforms is also discussed. In so doing, the paper illustrates the ways in which the defining features of DBR respond to the call for better attention to context as a means for enabling greater success of global reform efforts.
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