Empowering Design Based Implementation Research: The Need for Infrastructure


Sabelli, N., & Dede, C. (2013). Empowering Design-Based Implementation Research: The Need for Infrastructure. In B. J. Fishman & W. R. Penuel (Eds.), National Society for the Study of Education: Vol 112. Design Based Implementation Research (pp. 136-156). Teachers College, Columbia University.


This chapter discusses frameworks and conceptual lenses that help orient design-based implementation research (DBIR) work to the types of infrastructure required for success, while contributing to theories about the processes of educational improvement. Such infrastructures can be conceived as a framework: a set of interconnected elements that facilitate the integrated development of an initiative, provide a continuing narrative for this development, create shared responsibility for its implementation, and facilitate its sustainability. The chapter posits that several types of infrastructure are necessary for successful, sustainable DBIR, including conceptual frameworks that attend to issues of scale, human capacity, technical support, policies, organizational learning, and long-term funding. In addition, the chapter discusses the roles that feedback loops, intermediary organizations, and multiple timescales play in systemic educational improvement, and describes how attention to these different infrastructural needs can lead to sustained improvements and support their evolution over time. The chapter also comments on theoretical and practical advances in social policy that often are not integrated into learning sciences research but are crucial for evolutionary educational improvement, including using organizational learning as a measure of progress, attending to social feedback loops and networks inside and outside of schooling, and utilizing the tools of policy informatics.

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