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Learning Environments and Design-Based Research Essay

Introducing the Idea of Learning Environments

Learning environments (LEs) involve a variety of cultural and physical contexts, educational methods, and specific approaches. The idea of learning environments (LEs) appeared as an innovative concept of a classroom (Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummins, & Yuhnke, 2016). Over past several decades, there has been an upsurge in scholar’s interest in the topic of LEs that resulted in identifying a number of formal and informal LEs (Eshach, 2007; Russell, Knutson, & Crowley, 2013). Many professionals have dedicated efforts to the development and improvement of technology-enhanced LEs (Wang & Hannafin, 2005).

LEs include a diversity of learning cultures, and they are related to the knowledge context experienced by the learners. The quality of LEs is emphasized as a crucial factor in any student’s life since learners spend nearly 20,000 hours of time in the classroom by their university graduation (Fraser, 2014). The question of LEs started to be investigated independently by Moos and Walberg in the 1970s. Human environments were classified into the dimensions of personal development, relationship, and system maintenance and change (Fraser, 2014). Since the introduction of the concept, specialists have identified and developed a variety of environments that may be used to promote students’ interest in education and enhance their perception of different subjects.

Learning Environments Within Different Spaces

The diversity of LEs makes it possible to situate them within several different spaces, such as traditional, online, and blended. Traditional, or formal, LE is the usual classroom environment that does not involve any innovative settings and situates students within the classroom space. Because many research projects have proved that non-traditional LEs make learning outcomes more effective, the necessity of employing them has been discussed by scholars (Eshach, 2007; Russell et al., 2013). The most affordable and beneficial type of LE is online learning. An online LE is arranged and supported with the help of computer and internet technology (Jumaat & Tasir, 2014).

During such work, each student is working independently, and the teacher has much more responsibilities than within the traditional LE. There are various types of scaffolding employed in online LEs, such as procedural, conceptual, strategic, and metacognitive (Jumaat & Tasir, 2014). The teacher who works in such an environment needs to spend much time to prepare every lesson, instruct the students about it, and evaluate their achievements. A blended LE presupposes a combination of the elements taken from traditional and online LEs (Staker & Horn, 2012). In such a form of learning, a formal program of education is mixed with online distribution of instruction and content.

Design-Based Research in Learning Environments

Although LEs bring many advantages and lead to improved learning outcomes, they are not always easy to implement. In order to help educators and learners manage the peculiarities of assimilating to LEs, design-based research (DBR) is used. Such research creates a harmonious relationship among designing, researching, and engineering (Wang & Hannafin, 2005). DBR bears educational and scientific significance due to the active engagement of researchers in teaching and learning processes. DBR may be applied to LEs through understanding the bond between the educational problem and the possibilities of its solving with the help of research. The process of DBR consists of the following stages: concentrating on the problem, understanding it, setting the objectives, creating the outline of an explanation, building the resolution, and checking it (Easterday, Rees Lewis, & Gerber, 2014). It is necessary to make sure that no stage is missed since their sequence provides the fulfillment of the DBR purpose.

The major role in arranging DBR in an LE belongs to the educational leader. It is up to him to pick the topics that should be researched and find the researchers interested in collaboration with the school. However, the most important function of a teacher in the process or preparing DBR is building the bridge of understanding between the researchers and students. Since the teacher is the one who knows his pupils’ interests and abilities better than anyone else, he is the only one able to ensure that the research methods used in the LEs are suitable for the students. In the cases when a teacher performs the role of a researcher, his functions become even more diverse and responsible. Under such circumstances, teachers need to prepare everything from the very beginning, perform the experiments together with their students, and evaluate the achievements.

The potential outcomes that may result from applying the DBR to work in LEs are highly beneficial. Students acquire knowledge about different phenomenon by means of performing experiments and researching the issues instead of merely getting acquainted with them with the help of textbooks. In such a way, they become able to learn particular details about important things and have a chance to participate in real-life research projects. With the development of more and more modern LEs, the need for DBR increases all the time. Educators and researchers combine their efforts to bring the research work closer to students and give the latter a possibility to increase their outlook and gain invaluable experience.

Therefore, in order to stay aware of the innovative processes in education, teachers need to check for updates and learn about the possibilities of arranging diverse LEs for their students. DBR should be used to make the process of assimilating to the new LEs easier for students. The major role in implementing innovations belongs to the teachers who should constantly stay updated on the new methods in the system of education and opportunities for applying them.


Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., & Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

Easterday, M. W., Rees Lewis, D., & Gerber, E. M. (2014). Design-based research process: Problems, phases, and applications. In Learning and becoming in practice: The international conference of the learning sciences (ICLS): Proceedings of a conference: volume 1 (pp. 317-324). Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Boulder.

Eshach, H. (2007). Bridging in-school and out-of-school learning: Formal, non-formal, and informal education. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(2), 171-190.

Fraser, B. (2014). Classroom learning environments: Historical and contemporary perspectives. In N. G. Ledernam & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (Vol. 2) (pp. 104-119). New York, NY: Routledge.

Jumaat, N. F., & Tasir, Z. (2014). Instructional scaffolding in online learning environment: A meta-analysis. In 2014 international conference on teaching and learning in computing and engineering: Proceedings of a conference (pp. 74-77). Skudai, Malaysia: University of Technology.

Russell, J. L., Knutson, K., & Crowley, K. (2013). Informal learning organizations as part of an educational ecology: Lessons from collaboration across the formal-informal divide. Journal of Educational Change, 14(3), 259-281.

Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012). Web.

Wang, F., & Hannafin, M. J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 5-23.

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