Design-Based Research: Statement of the Problem

I am embarking on a Design-Based Research Proposal for the first time, and am looking for constructive feedback regarding my ‘Statement of the Problem’ .  
Given that the body of research around online learning largely focuses on higher education and the senior years of schooling, I am particularly interested in focusing this project on the implications of online learning for middle and primary years, though I do not believe at this stage I have made this clear enough in this statement.  I have included some suggested feedback responses below but am open to any suggestions you might be willing to provide!
  1. Do you believe this is a viable and worthwhile study?
  2. Should the study be more targeted, for example Years 4-9 (middle years)? Or, would a more general K-12 approach be more beneficial to potential readers?
  3. Has the problem been clearly stated?  What could be done to make it more explicit?
  4. Are the any suggestions to further improve, refine, clarify my focus?
  5. Other wise words of wisdom and/or advice for a novice researcher?

If you do not feel comfortable providing feedback by commenting directly on this post, please feel free to contact me directly.

Many thanks in anticipation of your constructive feedback, support and guidance.


Current estimates suggest that “nearly 5% of the K-12 student population (or several million students)” (Watson et al, 2013 as cited in Smith & Basham, 2014) are participating in online courses in the United States.  Christensen et al. (2010) further predict that “[b]y 2019, 50 percent of all high school courses will be delivered online.” A basic Google search reveals that online learning models are increasingly becoming common place in Australian Universities, and are also beginning to make an appearance in High Schools and Private Schools around the country, largely in the form of the implementation of Learning Management Systems (LMS).  Research evidence that support this growing trend is limited (DiPietro et al., 2008 as cited in Barbour 2010).  Although a number of meta-analyses have been conducted, their results have showed minimal variation (Cavanaugh, 2001, Cavanaugh et al., 2004, Bernard et al., 2004 Means et al., 2009 as cited in Barbour, 2010) though it is generally accepted that students participating in online courses do no better or worse, statistically, than students in a bricks-and-mortar school (Smith, Clark and Blomeyer, 2005 as cited in Carnahan, 2012). Barth, Hull & St Andrie (2012) suggest that despite these limited findings and a noted lack of solid research evidence, a “lack of information will not stand in the way of [online learning] moving forward” and this will have significant implications for the future of teaching and learning.

If a shift towards online learning is inevitable, the question therefore becomes how do schools and teachers leverage the potential of online learning to improving student achievement and engagement?  Judy Burton (2012) argues that “all teacher are new teachers” when it comes to online learning.  This suggests that the skill set required by teachers to work effectively with student in this emerging online environment, differs greatly from that used in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting (Online Learning Insights, 2012).  With these new pedagogical challenges, it seem prudent to look to those currently engaged in online learning in an effort to identify what works and what, if any, potential obstacles that may hinder the successful implementation of online learning programmes.  Equipped with this information, key recommendations and guidelines might be developed for teachers to ensuring the best possible outcomes for online students in K-10.


Barbour, M. K. (2010). Researching K‐12 online learning: What do we know and what should we examine? Distance Learning, 7(2), 7‐12.  Retrieved from

Barth, P., Hull, J. & St Andrie, R. (2012). Searching for the reality of virtual schools. Retrieved from

Burton, J. (2012, September 18). All Teachers are New Teachers in Blended Learning [web log post].  Retrieved from

Carnahan, C.D. (2012). The effects of learning in an online virtual environment on K-12 students (Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania).  Retrieved from

Christensen, C.M., Horn, M.B. & Johnson, C.W. (2010). Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.  New York: McGraw-Hill

Online Learning Insights (2012, February 20).  New Online Teaching Model: Sage-on-the-side? [web log post].  Retrieved from

Smith, S.J. & Basham, J.D. (2014).  Designing Online Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children (Vol. 46, pp.127-137).  Retrieved from



2 responses to “Design-Based Research: Statement of the Problem

  1. Pingback: Design-Based Research: Questions | EVEN ELMO'S GOT A MOBILE

  2. Lots of great feedback already via email – thank you! Definitely thinking that I need to be more specific about my focus so I can more clearly establish the reasoning behind what will be my planned intervention. Also need to look at being more ‘definite’ in my wording – less fluff! Please keep the feedback coming, it is really helping me to get to the core of what I am trying to achieve. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s