About Our Research

Research Design and Approach

What are we trying to learn?

Our research for the CDF Program employed an action-to-theory approach grounded in equity. Our approach embraced dynamic relationships, irreducibility of the whole, and an "unruliness" in program design and outcomes (Morrison, 2006). Our model also aligns with design-based implementation research (Penuel et al., 2011); we focus on collaboration, iteration, attention to local expertise and support structures, and theorizing learning and knowledge as critical aspects of a recursive development process.

Accordingly, both the research and program design have evolved and adapted in response to stakeholder needs and in order to better serve both instructors and students.

The Creative Discovery Fellows Program is organized around several critical opportunities:

  • The content of AC courses is particularly well-suited for narrative rendering, artistic exploration, community engagement, and public dissemination.
  • Instructors desire ideas and support to help integrate technology into their courses in ways that support (not detract from) their learning goals.
  • In this critical moment, anti-racism efforts in the classroom need to be supported through pedagogy, not just content.
  • An equitable approach to teaching a diverse student body requires re-examining basic assumptions about expertise, value, knowledge, and assessment.
  • Students are hungry to learn digital literacy skills but aren't given meaningful opportunities within the curriculum.
  • Access to creative tools is not enough; usage and familiarity are unevenly distributed, perpetuating inequities around how/whose stories get told and future employment opportunities.

The first purpose of our research was to explore the CDF Program implementation. We wanted to determine 1) how the philosophical objectives of the CDF Program were implemented both within both program and CDF-affiliated courses and 2) how these different implementations influenced instructor and student practices and learning. Ultimately, we wanted to affirm and improve the technical and creative resources provided to instructors and students through the CDF Program and codified the philosophical goals of the program (co-constructed, anti-racist, situated pedagogy) for future use.

The second purpose of our evaluation was to demonstrate the powerful potential of integrating digital tools in service of social justice-oriented learning goals for both instructors and students. For instructors, we hoped that they would develop creative assignments that leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences, contribute to shared teaching resources, expand their pedagogical toolkit, and ultimately would feel confident using new technologies and pedagogical strategies. For students, we hoped that they would develop intellectually through creative storytelling; gain technical, creative, relational, and reflective skills; feel confident using new technologies in the service of social justice goals; and see the actual or potential impact of their work.

The framework for the Creative Discovery Fellows Program centered on converting action to theory. We started within the classroom to uncover faculty and student needs and develop exemplar content and pedagogical practices. This work served as the foundation for broader pedagogical practices and design features needed for social justice-oriented creative assignments.