Design-based research (DBR) emphasises the importance of developing and refining design principles when conducting educational design experiments. However, a review of the DBR literature has shown that there is a lack of clarity as to how design principles are described and applied. In this paper, we introduce amodel for articulating design principles, and enabling analysis and discussion of how these might be challenged and undergo transformation during DBR processes in local educational settings. The analysis is based on examples derived from two DBR projects relating to digital technologies. The first example is taken from a large-scale intervention project that demonstrates the importance of teachers’ different dialogic approaches to teaching design thinking with Scratch. However, the rationale of large-scale project design does not allow for the integration of this emerging knowledge. The second example focuses on how a practitioner–researcher faces and manages preservice teachers’ preoccupation with the curriculum, when trying to enact a design principle in a lessonwithin the module “Technology comprehension and digital bildung” with playful approaches to learning. The two examples illustrate how the presumably linear process of articulating design principles and gradually refining them through design experiments in practice should be seen as a far more “messy” or contingent process than is presented in most DBR methodologies. We raise the case that the realisation of design principles must address possibilities for achieving (and not achieving) agency among local educators and students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalNordic Journal of Digital Literacy
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)222-233
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Agency
  • Design principles
  • Design-based research
  • Education


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