Issue 4 - March 2011

Welcome to Educational Designer #4

This issue of Educational Designer has been a while in the making, but we are pleased with the result and hope our readers will be as well. This issue contains a feature article by Tom Reeves on design research; a tale of designing a tool for proof comprehension by Lara Alcock and Nicola Wilkinson; and designer reflections on rich and balanced mathematics lessons by Charles Lovitt and Doug Clarke.

Along with this issue, we announce that the guidelines for contributors have been updated. In addition to invited pieces, we welcome unsolicited articles to the journal that reflect alignment with the guidelines presented here. Also, we would like to remind our audience that we encourage readers to respond to Educational Designer articles. While informal responses are most welcome, we are also interested in sharing extended responses, as Paul Black did in reaction to Alan Schoenfeld's piece on the cultures of educational research and design.

Susan McKenney
for the Editors

Can Educational Research Be Both Rigorous and Relevant?

Thomas Reeves
The University of Georgia

This paper addresses a complex question: Can educational research be both rigorous and relevant? The first eight years of the first decade of the 21st Century was a time when federal support for educational research in the USA emphasized rigor above most other concerns, and the last two years may mark the beginning of a shift to more emphasis on impact. The most desirable situation would be a balance between rigor and impact. Educational designers, teachers, and other practitioners would especially stand to benefit from such a balance because of the likelihood that it will enhance the impact of educational research. Educational design research is proposed as having enormous potential with respect to striking an appropriate balance between rigor and relevance in the service of the educational needs of learners, teachers, designers, and society at large.

Reeves, T.C. (2011) Can Educational Research Be Both Rigorous and Relevant? Educational Designer, 1(4).
Retrieved from:

e-Proofs: Design of a Resource to Support Proof Comprehension in Mathematics

Lara Alcock & Nicola Wilkinson
The University of Loughborough

This paper presents a theoretical basis for the design of e-Proofs, electronic resources to support proof comprehension in undergraduate mathematics. To begin, we frame the problems of teaching for proof comprehension, giving research background and an argument about what teacher-centred lecturing does not, and cannot, do to address these. We then describe e-Proofs, discuss the way in which they have been used in an Analysis course, and review their limitations and affordances as part of an overall educational experience. Finally, we briefly describe the development of a web-based tool for constructing e-Proofs, ways in which this tool will be used to different pedagogical ends, and associated research activity.

Alcock, L., Wilkinson, N. (2011) e-Proofs: Design of a Resource to Support Proof Comprehension in Mathematics. Educational Designer, 1(4).
Retrieved from:

A Designer Speaks: Charles Lovitt and Doug Clarke

Look at any 10 classroom lessons. Two might be quite forgettable, about six might be passable, but one or two might, by general acclamation from teachers, be considered outstanding.

By analysing what we consider to be high quality lessons, we contend that it is possible to distil out a set of practical design features and qualities that are generalisable and transferable to many lessons. We would claim that in this process, working alongside teachers, there is the opportunity to empower them to create their own “rich” and “balanced” classroom lessons.

We will analyse three selected lessons chosen from classrooms. Each in our opinion passes the test of being both rich and balanced.

Lovitt, C., Clarke, D. (2011) A Designer Speaks. Educational Designer, 1(4).
Retrieved from:
ISSN 1759-1325