Design-Based Research: Bridging the gap between fashion design education and research on design



Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design


  • design-based research, fashion design education


Traditionally, design-based research (DBR) unifies research, design and evaluation of interventions aimed at improving educational practice. Shifts elucidate DBR as a novelty to bridge the gap between knowledge generated from research with that of design practice. DBR, therefore, locates itself in both educational and design practice contexts. This paper considers DBR in the educational context hence aimed at the affordance for improving fashion design educational practice. The DBR phases in educational disciplines may well act as guidelines to develop scholarship around research on and through design.

Locally and internationally, fashion design education is an underdeveloped research area but what is more prevalent is the evident lack of DBR to improve educational practice. Drawing from a doctoral study in South African tertiary fashion design education, this meta-research paper focuses on the research design and methodology with a two-fold aim. Firstly, from an educational perspective, the paper theoretically contextualises and maps out a framework for DBR. The second aim describes how DBR was deployed as a research design to improve fashion design pedagogical practice. The aim was engineered to align with the following research questions:

  1. what are the theoretical constructs of DBR, and
  2. what are the affordances of DBR, as a research design, to improve fashion design pedagogical practice?

Embedded in DBR, multiple methods of data collection from various participant sub-sets included desktop research, semi-structured interviews, participant observations and semi-structured questionnaires as primary methods and artefacts as a secondary method. These data collection methods were based on DBR phases to align with the doctoral research phases.

This paper contributes principally to discourse around research designs for postgraduate studies in design education. As a secondary contribution, mapping DBR from an educational perspective holds affordances to offer insights for research on and through design.

Keywords: design-based research, fashion design education, research design


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