Design Research



This paper advances an argument for ‘design research’ as a core approach to developing useful knowledge for health education and training. Design research is research that is intended to produce actionable design knowledge: in our case, knowledge that can be used by people who are involved in designing for other people’s work-related learning. Design research includes understanding how design is actually accomplished (its working practices, tools, methods, capabilities of the people involved, etc.) and understanding how local learning systems function. A richer and more realistic sense of how design is done is of great practical use. It can guide other aspects of the production of knowledge that will be useful to designers. Educational and training interventions tend to be complex and learning is often diverse and messy. Understanding the internal dynamics of local learning systems is useful to those whose job it is to improve their functioning. Analysis of this kind can also stimulate reflection on the why and how of design: design teams learn a great deal about the systems in which they are meshed. The paper ends with some thoughts about how organisations and journals can help to capture and share these lessons learned.


Download data is not yet available.


Ahmadi S-F, Baradaran HR & Ahmadi E (2015) Effectiveness of teaching evidence-based medicine to undergraduate medical students: A BEME systematic review. Medical Teacher 37: 21–30. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2014.971724

Albert M, Hodges B & Regehr G (2007) Research in medical education: balancing service and science. Advances in Health Sciences Education 12: 103–115. doi:10.1007/s10459-006-9026-2

Bassir SH, Sadr-Eshkevari P, Amirikhorheh S & Karimbux NY (2014) Problem-based learning in dental education: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of Dental Education 78: 98–109.

Bennett S, Agostinho S & Lockyer L (2017) The process of designing for learning: understanding university teachers’ design work. Educational Technology Research and Development 65: 125–145.


Betihavas V, Bridgman H, Kornhaber R & Cross M (2016) The evidence for 'flipping out': A systematic review of the flipped classroom in nursing education. Nurse Education Today 38: 15–21. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2015.12.010

Carvalho L & Goodyear P (eds) (2014) The architecture of productive learning networks. New York: Routledge.

Carvalho L & Yeoman P (2017) A toolkit for action: translating theory into practice Paper presented at the 25th International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE 2017), Christchurch, New Zealand.

Dilnot C (2018) Thinking design: A personal perspective on the development of the Design Research Society. Design Studies 54: 142–145.

diSessa A, Levin M & Brown N. (2016) Knowledge and interaction: a synthethic agenda for the learning sciences. New York: Routledge.

Dolmans DHJM & Tigelaar D (2012) Building bridges between theory and practice in medical education using a design-based research approach: AMEE Guide No. 60. Medical Teacher 34: 1–10. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2011.595437

Ericson A, Löfgren S, Bolinder G, Reeves S, Kitto S & Masiello I (2017) Interprofessional education in a student-led emergency department: A realist evaluation. Journal of Interprofessional Care 31: 199–206. doi:10.1080/13561820.2016.1250726

Fenwick T & Nerland M (eds) (2014) Reconceptualising professional learning: sociomateral knowledges, practices and responsibilities. London: Routledge.

Goodyear P (1995) Situated action and distributed knowledge. Educational and Training Technology International 32: 45–55.

Goodyear P (1997) Instructional design environments: methods and tools for the design of complex instructional systems. In: Dijkstra S, Seel N, Schott F & Tennyson R (eds) Instructional design: international perspectives. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 83–111.

Goodyear P (2000) Environments for lifelong learning: ergonomics, architecture and educational design. In: Spector JM & Anderson TM (eds) Integrated and holistic perspectives on learning, instruction & technology: understanding complexity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 1–18

Goodyear P (2015) Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education 2: 27–50.

Goodyear P & Dimitriadis Y (2013) In medias res: reframing design for learning. Research in Learning Technology 21. doi:

Goodyear P & Retalis S (eds) (2010) Technology-enhanced learning: design patterns and pattern languages. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Jensen K, Lahn LC & Nerland M (eds) (2012) Professional learning in the knowledge society. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Kali Y, Goodyear P & Markauskaite L (2011) Researching design practices and design cognition: contexts, concretisation and pedagogical knowledge-in-pieces. Learning, Media & Technology 36: 129–149.

Kirschner PA & van Merriënboer JJ (2013) Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educational Psychologist 48: 169–183.

Krippendorff K (2006) The semantic turn: a new foundation for design. Boca Raton FL: CRC Press.

Laurillard D (2008) The teacher as action researcher: using technology to capture pedagogic form. Studies in Higher Education 33: 139–154.

Laurillard D (2012) Teaching as a design science: building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. Abingdon: Routledge.

Manzini E (2015) Design, when everybody designs: an introduction to design for social innovation. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Markauskaite L & Goodyear P (2017) Epistemic fluency and professional education: innovation, knowledgeable action and actionable knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer.

McConnell D (2002) Action research and distributed problem-based learning in continuing professional education. Distance Education 23: 59–83.

O’Neill DK (2016) Understanding design research–practice partnerships in context and time: why learning sciences scholars should learn from cultural-historical activity theory approaches to design-based research. Journal of the Learning Sciences 25: 497–502. doi:10.1080/10508406.2016.1226835

Pawson R & Tilley N (1997) Realistic evaluation. London: Sage.

Penuel WR (2014) Emerging forms of formative intervention research in education. Mind, Culture, and Activity 21: 97–117. doi:10.1080/10749039.2014.884137

Simonsen J, Svabo C, Strandvad S, Samson K, Hertzum M & Hansen O (2014) Situated design methods. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Svihla V & Reeve R (eds) (2016) Design as scholarship: case studies from the learning sciences. New York: Routledge.

Sweller J (2004) Instructional design consequences of an analogy between evolution by natural selection and human cognitive architecture. Instructional Science 32: 9–31.

Tracey M & Baaki J (2014) Design, designers, and reflection-in-action. In: Hokanson B & Gibbons A (eds) Design in educational technology: design thinking, design process, and the design studio. Dordrecht: Springer International Publishing, pp. 1–13.

Udemans R, Stokes M-L, Rigby L, Khanna P & Christiansen J (2018) Educational renewal of physician training in Australia and New Zealand: Multiple educational innovations in a complex environment. Medical Teacher 21: 1–6. doi:10.1080/0142159X.2018.1444270

Voigt C (2010) A pattern in the making: the contextual analysis of electronic case-based learning. In: Goodyear P & Retalis S (eds) Technology-enhanced learning: design patterns and pattern languages. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 107–122.

Wenger E (1998) Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wong G, Greenhalgh T & Pawson R (2010) Internet-based medical education: a realist review of what works, for whom and in what circumstances. BMC Medical Education 10: 12.

Wong G, Greenhalgh T, Westhorp G & Pawson R (2012) Realist methods in medical education research: what are they and what can they contribute? Medical Education 46: 89–96.

Wosinski J, Belcher AE, Dürrenberger Y, Allin A-C, Stormacq C & Gerson L (2018) Facilitating problem-based learning among undergraduate nursing students: A qualitative systematic review. Nurse Education Today 60: 67–74. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2017.08.015

Young C & Perović N (2016) Rapid and creative course design: as easy as ABC? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 228: 390–395. doi:

Zheng L (2015) A systematic literature review of design-based research from 2004 to 2013. Journal of Computers in Education 2: 399–420




How to Cite

Goodyear, P. (2018). Design Research. ealth ducation in ractice: ournal of esearch for rofessional earning, 1(1). etrieved from