Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble (2003)

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Design Experiments in Educational Research


In this article, the authors first indicate the range of purposes and the variety of settings in which design experiments have been conducted and then delineate five crosscutting features that collectively differentiate design experiments from other methodologies. Design experiments have both a pragmatic bent—"engineering" particular forms of learning—and a theoretical orientation—developing domain-specific theories by systematically studying those forms of learning and the means of supporting them. The authors clarify what is involved in preparing for and carrying out a design experiment, and in conducting a retrospective analysis of the extensive, longitudinal data sets generated during an experiment. Logistical issues, issues of measure, the importance of working through the data systematically, and the need to be explicit about the criteria for making inferences are discussed.


Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A. A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 9–13.
author = {Cobb, Paul and Confrey, Jere and diSessa, Andrea A. and Lehrer, Richard and Schauble, Leona},
doi = {10.3102/0013189X032001009},
journal = {Educational Researcher},
number = {1},
pages = {9--13},
title = {{Design experiments in educational research}},
url = {},
volume = {32},
year = {2003}