UV9120 – Design-based Research and Case Studies

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Design-based research methods (DBR) were developed in the educational sciences in the 1990s and have since been used in many fields in educational science during the last 20 years. The roots of DBR go back to experimental approaches in naturalistic context and formative interventions. One can identify two traditions in DBR:

1) DBR is seen as a hypothesis driven approach that tests variables in order to explain which features of a design can improve students’ learning outcomes in naturalistic settings.

2) DBR is used in ethnographic studies to test innovative pedagogical designs, using mainly qualitative methods to understand how students and teachers respond to the designed features in the sociocultural context.

This course will investigate the different ways in which researchers working with cognitive, socio-cognitive or socio-cultural learning perspectives use DBR as a methodological strategy to understand how and what people learn. A range of quantitative and qualitative methods, often used in combination in DBR, will be reviewed.

The course offers insight into connections between innovation, design and educational research as these have developed in DBR. Researchers, often in collaboration with computer scientists and interaction designers, work closely with practitioners to identify problems and to plan studies that address shared interests in developing new and often innovative practices. The collaborative process produces new prototypes, procedures or tools that are tested in naturalistic empirical settings (e.g., math, science, art and other subjects in schools, workplace settings, museums and science centers).

DBR is often labeled as pragmatic approach that is driven by theory and review of a field of knowledge. DBR is sometimes seen as a type of case study methodology, and this course will specifically explore the use of case studies in DBR approaches. 

Learning outcome

After completing the course the students will be able to:

  • Understand the principles of using a DBR approach
  • Identify and account for different positions in DBR research and their contributions
  • Understand the similarities and differences between DBR and case studies
  • Write literature reviews and summarize research findings in DBR research  


PhD candidates in the educational sciences and neighboring fields are invited to participate. In some cases, pre-doctoral students may be eligible provided that it is clear that they are about to be enrolled in a PhD program.

International candidates are welcome to participate. It is the ambition of the course to have participants from other countries. The courses are inter- and multidisciplinary, and candidates enrolled in PhD training outside education and educational research, for instance, in fields such as media studies, psychology, applied informatics, communication sciences and youth studies are encouraged to apply.

If there are more applicants than the 15 admission places available, a selection will be made based on an assessment of the relevance of the course for the candidate’s research plan and qualifications in the relation to the objectives of the course. The course leaders carry out the selection process.

Candidates admitted to the PhD Programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences should apply through Studentweb

Other applicants may apply using this application form

Registration deadline: April 19, 2020.


This is an intensive course over two days, comprising a total of 14 hours. The course will be offered digitally.

Dates: June 4-5, 2020.



3 credit points for course participation and submitted paper (7 pages, Times New Roman 12, line spacing 1,5). 80% attendance is required. 

Papers are to be submitted electronically in Canvas.

Deadline for paper submission is September 15, 2020.

Language of examination

The papers can be written in English or Norwegian.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Contact us

Olga Mukhina (olga.mukhina@iped.uio.no)

Facts about this course






Next time the course will be offered in the autumn semester 2022.

Teaching language