Design-based research: Connecting theory and practice in pharmacy educational intervention research

Michael D. Wolcott, Nikki G. Lobczowski, Kayley Lyons, Jacqueline E. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Our situation: Interventional research in pharmacy education includes the study of complex challenges that can be difficult to navigate. Design-based research (DBR), is a systematic and iterative approach to interventional research that is attentive to the practical and theoretical contributions to education. Practical contributions include the creation of novel solutions to complex problems that improve learning while theoretical contributions include refining our understanding of context-specific learning. In this paper, we describe how we addressed challenges associated with student collaboration in pharmacy education by applying DBR to bridge theory and practice. Methodological literature review: DBR is characterized as authentic, contextually aware, collaborative, theoretically focused, methodologically diverse, practical, iterative, and operation-oriented. DBR includes three iterative phases: (1) analysis and exploration, (2) design and construction, and (3) evaluation and reflection. Our recommendations and their applications: To integrate DBR into interventional research, scholars should work collaboratively with diverse teams of experts. DBR also requires extensive planning, a toolkit of expansive research methodologies, and attention to practical and theoretical considerations. Finally, scholars should share their work as often as possible and engage in creative exercises to promote innovative solutions to challenges in education. Potential impact: DBR offers an approach to generate practical, theoretical, and scholarly contributions to pharmacy education research. In summary, DBR can aid pharmacy educational scholars by using a flexible, iterative, and systematic process to generate novel and creative solutions to complex problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-318
Number of pages10
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaboration
  • Design-based research
  • Mixed methods
  • Research design
  • Research methods

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