Didactics As a Design Science – University of Copenhagen

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Didactics As a Design Science 

This course aims to introduce participants to a number of related theoretical frameworks for "design research" in the didactics of mathematics and science. Loosely speaking, viewing didactics as a "design science" implies that the teaching and learning of scientific knowledge is considered as something to be "experimented with", rather than just observed. This means that one investigates specific hypotheses about the teaching of something by devising, observing and analyzing a specific "design" for teaching. Of course, teaching cannot be "designed" like an airplane or a chemical process, so the notion of "didactical design" is in itself non-trivial and means different things in different frameworks.
Among the frameworks for research to be considered are.

  • The theory of didactical situations and didactical engineering (Brousseau, Artigue,...)
  • The research and study programme approach (Chevallard, Bosch,...)
  • Learning demand based design (Mortimer, Scott, Leach, Ametller,...)

Although the literature and examples will mainly come from primary and secondary level mathematics and science education, the course is designed to be accessible to doctoral students with a project in the didactics of other disciplines. The likely presence of participants from a variety of disciplines could in fact facilitate a discussion of the possibility of transversal and multidisciplinary didactical design.
The course will actively integrate the participants' projects into the work.
We shall read both "basic theory" and related but more specialised research articles. All of the required readings will be in English, but some additional (and optional) texts may be in Danish, German or French. The course language will be English. Two international specialists will participate as lecturers in the first part of the course: Dr. Jaume Ametller (U. Leeds, UK) and Prof. Alain Mercier (INRP, France).


Scientific organisers: Carl Winsløw and Marianne Mortensen, IND, University of Copenhagen.

Timeline of the course:

  1. September 1, 2011:Deadline for registration.
  2. Early September 2011: The first texts are sent to the participants, along with questions to reflect on while reading.
  3. September 26-27, 2011: First session, with the following agenda:
    • Short introductions by participants of their projects and interests
    • Presentation and discussion of the frameworks based on the first texts
    • Workshops by two leading international professors on design, based on the theories
    • A new package of texts (research articles based on the frameworks) will be distributed after this session. These will, as far as possible, be related to the projects and interests of participants
  4. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2011: Second session, treating the texts of the second package and their relations to the projects of the participants. Participants are expected to prepare a short oral presentation of their ideas regarding their own project, which will be discussed with the whole group.
  5. December 8-9, 2011: Third and final session, a "mini-conference" where each participant will present a paper on aspects of their own projects which can be usefully related to one or more of the frameworks (this paper must be finished and distributed via email to all participants before the session according to a deadline fixed at the second session).

Venue: All sessions will take place at the Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen. Travel and lodging must be organised by participants. 

Prerequisites: Participants are expected to be doctoral students in the didactics with some general acquaintance of the field as such, and a clearly formulated research project which could be in any stage between beginnings and almost finished. We shall also assume some familiarity with constructivist learning theories and its use in educational research.

Workloads and credits: The course will require about 200 hours of work, corresponding to a course credit of 7.5 ECTS points (pre-approbation of course credits must be obtained from home institution). The work includes readings, oral presentations and final essay (of about 10 pages). Course assessment will be based on the final essay. A statement of satisfactory completion will be issued.

Financial issues: There is no participation fee. Travel, lodging and board must be paid by participants or by their institutions.

Registration is made by (1) completing this webform and (2) sending a one page description of research project and a one page CV to: Nadja Nordmaj, nnordmaj@ind.ku.dk and Carl Winsløw, winslow@ind.ku.dk