Collaborative Research: Understanding and Improving Curriculum Materials Design Practices for Effective 'Large Scale' Implementation in Science

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The Design Dimensions project seeks to improve understanding of practices critical to the design of curricular materials for implementation in a broad range of educational contexts. Researchers from three organizations will collaborate to explore and codify practices that enhance the success of efforts to design K-12 science curriculum materials for large-scale implementation. Investigators from these three organizations will conduct and synthesize results from a series of retrospective and live-design practice, broad and ‘deep dive’ studies, with the goal of articulating a conceptual model of educational design for large-scale use. Of particular concern are the processes and strategies designers employ to address key challenges to producing curricular materials capable of having meaningful impacts on large numbers of learners (e.g., to achieve deep understanding and rich performance, to connect to and leverage diverse social and cultural experiences, and to facilitate implementation in diverse and resource-limited settings).


'Deep Dive' studies will take place at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and TERC. Broad patterns research will take place at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), University of Pittsburgh.

Research Design: 

The project uses a comparative research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [case study and observational]. Original data are being collected on educational designers, particularly those developing K-12 science curricula intended for large-scale use, using personal observation and survey research [self-completion questionnaire, structured interviewer-administered questionnaire]. Instruments or measures being used to collect data include interview protocols, survey protocols, and participant observation reflections.

Methods used in this study will include: interviews with designers and document reviews to identify structural project characteristics associated with scaling success; retrospective case studies to identify salient features and lessons learned from more and less successful large-scale design initiatives for science education; and deep dives (involving participant-observation, interviews, focus group discussions, and document analysis) into sustained design practices over an extended period to explore how design teams address key design challenges while developing educational materials for large-scale use.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

A model and associated materials describing the educational design process.