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Design-Based Research-Practice Partnerships: Connecting the Expertise of Researchers and Practitioners to Improve Educational Opportunities for All Students

Fri, April 28, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Floor: Meeting Room Level, Room 221 C


This poster details ways in which co-designing an innovation within a design-based research practice partnership (RPP) connects researcher and practitioner expertise to productively improve educational opportunities for all students.

Design research partnerships are included in the initial typology of RPPs identified by Coburn, Penuel, and Giel (2013). Design research partnerships typically involve collaboration between researchers and practitioners to co-design, study, and scale innovations in teaching and learning.

This poster will highlight the process of using design research (Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003) within a partnership to develop practical measures (Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, & LeMahieu, 2015; Yeager, Bryk, Muhich, Hausman, & Morales, 2013) that can be used to assess and leverage improvement in the quality of discourse across mathematics classrooms and support instructional improvement efforts.

Data sources
This partnership described here is between a large urban district and researchers in mathematics education and leadership/policy at the University of Washington (UW) and Vanderbilt University. The survey development design cycles that took place in the district included 3 teacher participants, 15-20 student cognitive interviews, and 6-10 classroom observations.

The poster describes the co-development process to design a set of practical measures to assess the quality of small-group and whole-class discussion in middle-grades mathematics classrooms, and focuses on the roles of the researchers and practitioners in each step of the process. What are the benefits of sustained collaboration between researchers and practitioners in this manner?

To develop the practical measures, we conducted three cycles of design and analysis to develop student surveys that captured key distinctions in the quality of classroom discourse that have been linked to student learning (Franke et al., 2007), as well as items designed to assess teacher support and press for higher quality discourse (Kazemi & Stipek, 2001). The design cycles included classroom observation, student cognitive interviews, and analysis of student survey data.

By participating in the design process together, researchers and practitioners were able to build a common understanding and learn from one another- resulting in student surveys that accomplished both researcher and practitioner goals. Through examining the contributions of the researchers and practitioners in the design process, three key researcher-practitioner interactions proved valuable in the co-design process. 1) Observing instruction together provided opportunities to engage in deep discussions around what high quality mathematics discussion looks like and provided concrete examples that oriented future conversations. 2) Talking to students gave researchers and practitioners the opportunity to hear student interpretations of the survey items and provided an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to safely share their thinking and learn from one another. 3) Looking at student survey data with district leaders offered the opportunity to interpret findings and make decisions about what to do next together.

Scholarly significance of the work
RPPs have emerged as a promising strategy for bridging the gulf between research and practice. This poster shares concrete strategies that design research partnerships can use to connect expertise of researchers and practitioners through the co-design process.