|Purpose of Foundational, Early-Stage or Exploratory, and Design and Development Research Studies Foundational, Early-Stage or Exploratory, and Design and Development Studies|
|An important genre of education research advances knowledge about fundamental principles of sound education practice. This includes studies to advance foundational knowledge that guides theory development; Early-Stage or Exploratory research to identify evidence of the promise (or lack thereof) of programs, policies or practices; and research that guides the development and early-stage testing of innovative programs, policies and practices to improve education outcomes.|
|Foundational Research||The purpose of Foundational Research is to advance the frontiers of education and learning; develop and refine theory and methodology; and provide fundamental knowledge about teaching and/or learning.
Foundational Research studies may examine phenomena without establishing an explicit link to education outcomes.
|Early-Stage or Exploratory Research||The purpose of Early-Stage or Exploratory Research is to investigate approaches to education problems to establish the basis for design and development of new interventions or strategies, and/or to provide evidence for whether an established intervention or strategy is ready to be tested in an efficacy study.
Early-Stage or Exploratory Research should establish initial connections to outcomes of interest. Studies in this genre should support the development of a well-explicated theory of action that can inform the development, modification, or evaluation of an intervention or strategy. They should build on existing research and theory to examine issues such as:
(1) Associations between (a) education or learning outcomes and (b) malleable factors (that is, factors that are alterable, such as children’s behaviors; technologies; education programs, policies, and practices) and; (2) Factors and conditions that may mediate or moderate the relationship between (a) education or learning outcomes and (b) malleable factors; and (3) Opportunities for new interventions or strategies, and challenges to their adoption, with the goal of informing policy, practice, and future design or development.
|Design and Development Research||The purpose of Design and Development Research is to develop new or improved interventions or strategies to achieve well-specified learning goals or objectives, including making refinements on the basis of small-scale testing. Typically this research involves four components:
(1) Development of a solution (for example, an instructional approach; design and learning objects, such as museum exhibits or media; or education policy) based on a well-specified theory of action appropriate to a well-defined end user; (2) Creation of measures to assess the implementation of the solution(s); (3) Collection of data on the feasibility of implementing the solution(s) in typical delivery settings by intended users; and (4) Conducting a pilot study to examine the promise of generating the intended outcomes.
In some cases, funders will expect all four stages to be completed within a single project; in other cases, Design and Development Projects may entail sequential projects.
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