Empirical validation of characteristics of design-based learning in higher education

S.M. Gómez Puente, M.W. Eijck, van, W.M.G. Jochems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
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Design-based learning (DBL) is an educational approach in which students gather and process theoretical knowledge while working on the design of artifacts, systems, and innovative solutions in project settings. Whereas DBL has been employed in the practice of teaching science in secondary education, it has barely been defined, let alone investigated empirically, at the level of the higher education setting. The purpose of this study is to investigate empirically to what extent pre-defined DBL characteristics are present in an exemplary DBL practice in technical studies. As an exemplary case, we took four different engineering departments from a technical university in which DBL has been implemented as a central form of instruction. First, we conducted a survey to collect teachers’ and students’ perceptions on whether DBL characteristics were, in fact, present in assignments and projects. Second, teaching materials and student products from three projects were analyzed qualitatively. We found that teachers and students recognized DBL characteristics as part of the instruction, albeit to a varied extent. We found considerable differences between departments, particularly in the characteristics of the projects, the role of the teacher, and the design elements. Analysis of DBL teaching materials and student products revealed that not all DBL characteristics are embedded in the projects over all departments. Implications for further research are discussed to optimize the instructional design of DBL environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-503
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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