Publishing and perishing: The critical importance of educational design research

Thomas C. Reeves, Susan McKenney, Jan Herrington


The outcomes of educational systems continue to lag far behind expectations at all levels, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Meanwhile, the sheer amount of educational research published in refereed journals has expanded enormously. There is an obvious disconnect between the educational research papers published in professional journals or presented at academic conferences and any form of beneficial impact on the students, teachers, and other stakeholders in educational systems. This problem can be traced back to those professors and research supervisors engaged in the preparation of educational researchers who fail to convey to novice researchers important distinctions between the goals and methods of educational research. Educational design research provides a potentially viable alternative to the kind of educational research that is commonly conducted in the field of educational technology. Educational design research has the twin objectives of developing creative approaches to solving human teaching, learning, and performance problems while at the same time constructing a body of design principles that can guide future development efforts. This paper argues that a reconsideration of educational research approaches is crucial and that the time for greater uptake of educational design research is now.

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