New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Framing Educational Design Research: Abductive Reasoning and the Design of Theory

Tobias Schmohl, Hamburg Center for University Teaching & Learning (HUL) (Germany)


In short, Educational Design Research (EDeR) can be defined as a rather pragmatist's approach with the intention to change an educational setting through an innovative intervention yet to be developed [1]. Researchers conducting this way of knowledge creation want to "change reality rather than just study it" [2]. They aim at contructing and refining specific "design principles and/or action heuristics for practical actions in a demarcated action field" [1]. EDeR researchers therefore pursue the goal to explore innovative solutions for problems in educational practice by an iterative design, while – at the same time – gaining new or at least refining scientific knowledge [1, 3–7].From an epistemological point of view, EDeR can be described as a scientific way of doing two things: (a) creating knowledge to solve specific problems of practical relevance in educational settings, and (b) drawing theoretical constructs (e.g.: generalized conclusions) from these particular design cases. It is not very clear, how to explain (b) methodologically – that is how to explain to build up new, innovative and practically useful theoretical constructs. In this paper, I would like to suggest that creation of theoretical constructs in EDeR could be methodologically considered as variations of abductive reasoning [8] – which might, compared to "conventional" approaches, even lead to more convincing ways of understanding EDeR.


[1] Euler D. Design-research – a paradigm under development. In: Euler D, Sloane PFE,editors. Design-Based Research. Stuttgart: Steiner; 2014. p. 15–41 [Zeitschrift für Berufs-und Wirtschaftspädagogik (Beiheft); vol. 27].
[2] Schwartz DL, Chang J, Martin L. Instrumentation and innovation in design experiments: Taking the turn towards efficiency: Stanford University; 2005. Available from: URL:
[3] Cobb P, Confrey J, diSessa A, Lehrer R, Schauble L. Design experiments in educational research. Educational Researcher 2003; 32(1):9–13.
[4] McKenney SE, Reeves TC. Conducting educational design research. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge; 2012.
[5] Van den Akker J. Principles and methods of development research: Design approaches and tools in education and training. In: Akker JJH, Branch RM, Gustafson K, Nieveen N, Plomp T, editors. Design approaches and tools in education and training. Dordrecht, Boston: Springer; 1999. p. 1–14 Available from: URL:
[6] Brown AL. Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. Journal of the Learning Sciences 1992; 2(2):141–78.
[7] Edelson DC. Design research: what we learn when we engage in design. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 2002; 11(1):105–21.
[8] Peirce CS. Book I: Lectures on pragmatism: §7: Pragmatism and abduction. In: Pragmatism and pramaticism; 1903. p. 188–9 [The collected papers; vol. 5].
[9] Sandoval W. Conjecture mapping: An approach to systematic educational design research. Journal of the Learning Sciences 2014; 23(1):18–36.
[10] Bereiter C. Design research for sustained innovation. Cognitive Studies, Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society 2002; 9(3):321–7.
[11] Aliseda A. Abductive reasoning: Logical investigations into discovery and explanation. Dordrecht: Springer; 2005. (Synthese library; vol 330).
[12] Magnani L. Abductive cognition: The epistemological and eco-cognitive dimensions of hypothetical reasoning. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2009. (Cognitive systems monographs; vol 3).
[13] Preyer G, Mans D. On contemporary developments in the theory of argumentation. Protosociology: An International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research 1999; 13:3–13.
[14] Walton D. Abductive, presumptive and plausible arguments. Informal Logic. Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice 2001; 21(2):141–69. Available from: URL:
[15] Burkholz R. Problemlösende Argumentketten: Ein Modell der Forschung. Weilerswist: Velbrück Wiss; 2008.
[16] Reinmann G. Entwicklung als Forschung? Gedanken zur Verortung und Präzisierung einer entwicklungsorientierten Bildungsforschung. In: Seufert S, Metzger C, editors. Kompetenzentwicklung in unterschiedlichen Lernkulturen: Festschrift für Dieter Euler zum 60. Geburtstag. Paderborn: Eusl; 2013. p. 45–60 .
[17] Kleining G. Das qualitative Experiment. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 1986; 38:724–50.
[18] Kleining G. Das qualitative Experiment. In: Flick U, Kardoff Ev, Keupp H, Rosenstiel Lv, Wolff S, editors. Handbuch qualitative Sozialforschung: Grundlagen, Konzepte, Methoden und Anwendungen. München: Psychologie-Verl.-Union; 1991. p. 263–6 .
[19] Reichertz J. Abduktion: Die Logik der Entdeckung der Grounded Theory. In: Mey G, Mruck K, editors. Grounded Theory Reader. Wiesbaden: Springer; 2011. p. 279–97 .
[20] Reichertz J. Die Abduktion in der qualitativen Sozialforschung: Über die Entdeckung des Neuen. 2. Aufl. 2013. Dordrecht: Springer; 2013. (Qualitative Sozialforschung; vol 13).



Back to the list


Reserved area

Media Partners:

Click BrownWalker Press logo for the International Academic and Industry Conference Event Calendar announcing scientific, academic and industry gatherings, online events, call for papers and journal articles
Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2024 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy