Design Based Implementation Research


The DKP has been conducting cycles of Design Based Implementation Research (DBIR) studies since Fall 2019. This research seeks to better understand the experiences of educators and students with our 8th grade yearlong civics curriculum (“Civic Engagement in our Democracy”) and related professional development supports in order to inform redesign of these resources.

Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR) is an iterative approach to research and development (Penuel et al, 2011). DBIR focuses on “persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives… involves iterative and collaborative design with researchers and practitioners… is grounded in systematic inquiry… and builds the capacity of systems to engage in continuous improvement” (Penuel et al, 2011).

The focus of the DKP’s work is on teachers, their implementation and adaptations of the curriculum, the professional development support they receive in service of implementation, students’ engagement with that curriculum, and the school- and system- level factors that help or hinder the curriculum’s success. 

The DKP has been conducting focus groups with students, interviews with teachers, instructional coaches and school administrators, observations of professional development offerings and classes, and mapping of the curriculum on the features of project based learning deeper civic learning. Over 35 teachers in 13 districts in Massachusetts have participated in the research since fall 2019.

Leveraging Technology to Engage Students in Civic Learning
Funded by Lucas Education Research
Contact: Dr. Carrie James -
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The Democratic Knowledge Project is an initiative of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.