The research methodology for the SILO project is design-based research (DBR). “DBR is a methodology designed by and for educators that seeks to increase the impact, transfer, and translation of education research into improved practice” (Anderson & Shattuck, 2012, p. 16). Barab and Squire (2004) were early adopters of this methodology who noted that “design-based research strives to generate and advance a particular set of theoretical constructs that transcends the environmental particulars of the contexts in which they were generated, selected, or refined” (p. 5). The SILO project is built upon the following five constructs:
Sandoval (2014) has noted that there is no clearly identifiable set of methods that can be labeled as DBR and that the commonality is mainly in terms of certain commitments that include “the joint pursuit of practical improvement and theoretical refinement; cycles of design, enactment, analysis, and revision; and attempts to link processes of enactment to outcomes of interest” (pp. 19-20). Given this, the question of how the SILO project will be assessed is critical. Sandoval’s contribution here is what he calls ‘conjecture mapping’, which is when articulating and testing opinions or conclusions formed on the basis of incomplete information. In this sense conjecture mapping could be likened to “hypotheses about how learning happens in some context and how to support it” (Sandoval, 2014, p.20). Accordingly, the working hypothesis for the SILO project is that students and teachers will expand their knowledge and skills in STEM by having a daily focus built into each day. The challenge then is how to do this in a seamless and sustainable way. Figure 1 is the initial conjecture map for the SILO project.
Figure 3.1. Initial conjecture map for a daily STEM focus in primary schools.
The relationship between the data sources is shown in figure 3.2:
Figure 3.2. Venn diagram of the data sources.
Another important methodological issue is co-construction and how teachers and researchers understand their own role as co-designers within the classroom. This issue is at the heart of DBR as participants "are treated as co-participants in both the design and even the analysis" (Barab & Squire, 2004, p. 3). This will become most apparent in the SILO project during the current implementation phase where teachers and the primary researcher seek to design engaging and authentic opportunities to engage in STEM education. Much time and effort has gone into cultivating a learning environment based on mutual trust and respect to encourage the free flow of ideas in a spirit of collaboration. As yet, there have been no differences of opinion regarding implementation but the following three protocols are proposed to manage such instances:
Teachers make countless decisions every day but the decision-making process which guides such decisions is rarely articulated because it is tacit knowledge. Figure 3.3 seeks to make this tacit knowledge visible in the context of STEM education.
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