Instructional Design Scholar, Practitioner & Educator
I research design practice, particularly designers' ways of design, their design thinking, and their design characters, to understand the complex nature of design practice. Through this understanding of design practice in situ, (1) I help design educators prepare design practitioners better, (2) I inform scholarship that aims to suggest design means for design practice, and (3) I help design practitioners become genuine agents of change through ethical and rigorous design. My research relies on rigorous qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as descriptive design theory from other fields of design such as human-computer interaction (HCI), engineering, and architecture.
This research focus affords me to view instructional design holistically and to investigate different strands of research, such as design tools in practice, design judgments of design practitioners, design precedents’ use in practice and in design literature, and design failure.
Design tools in practice
My first-authored study in the IST Ph.D. program is titled Design Tools in Practice: Instructional Designers Report Which Tools They Use and Why. The study is published in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education (JCHE) within a special issue that focuses on the development of the instructional designer (Lachheb & Boling, 2018). This study is among the top 10 download papers in (JCHE) for 2018.
In this study, instructional design practitioners working in diverse settings were surveyed regarding the tools they use in their practice and interviewed regarding how they explain their choices to use the tools that they do. A survey completed by 100 instructional designers shows that they use a wide array of both digital and analog tools, many of them not specifically focused on, or limited to, the design and development of instruction. Analysis of interview narratives with 10 instructional designers surfaced themes in two categories, rationalist and situational explanations for the use of certain tools, with appropriateness (a rational explanation) and individual preference (a situational explanation) offered most frequently. These findings, and the statements of the designers, highlight the role of instrumental judgment in instructional design practice and points to implications for the education of instructional designers.
Design judgments of design practitioners
I co-authored this study with 17 authors from 11 countries within the Indiana University Design Research Group, led by Professor Elizabeth Boling. The study is published in the Performance Improvement Quarterly (PIQ) journal (Boling et al., 2017) and build on another study conducted within the same research group (Gray et al., 2015)
In this study, the tacit beliefs that affect all the judgments made during the design process (core judgments) of 11 practicing instructional designers were studied via their discussions of strong and weak designs during interviews. Transcripts were analyzed from a phenomenological perspective. The study demonstrates that while designer judgment is rarely discussed in the field, these designers do appear to bring core judgments to bear on their designing, and these judgments are complex in nature. Researchers argue that core judgment, unaccounted for in rational models of instructional design, requires further attention from scholars and design educators.
The findings of my first-authored study (Lachheb & Boling, 2018) and the findings of the study I conducted with the Design Research Group highlighted the role of instrumental judgments that instructional designers evoke in selecting and choosing design means/tools. Therefore I have conducted a study entitled Instrumental Judgments in Action: Why ID Practitioners Use their Design Means?. The study manuscript is currently in progress and will be prepared for submission to the journal of Computing in Higher Education (manuscript in preparation).
Within the Indiana University Design Research Group, led by Professor Elizabeth Boling, I co-lead the ongoing research effort to describe design precedent—a form of knowledge that is considered to be fundamental to all forms of design practice, but still comparatively ill-defined. With my diverse colleagues of scholars, I seek to describe design precedent construct rigorously, and particularly to ensure that any scholarly definition of design precedent is fully informed by reports from designers in practice. I presented with the research group the findings of the literature review part of the study which span across multiple disciplines of design (Boling et al., 2019).
Currently, we seek are conducting interviews with designers from different design disciplines (eg., architecture, fashion design, user experience design, graphic design ) they understand how they define design precedent and what role this construct plays in their design work.
My dissertation study (two-page prospectus) investigates design failure in instructional design practice. I seek to understand how instructional design practitioners define design failure, what this phenomenon means to them, and to what they attribute it when it occurs. The first outcome of this study is intended to be a description of what instructional design practitioners make of design failure, i.e., how they define design failure in their instructional design practice and what this phenomenon means to them. The second outcome of this study will be a description of what elements instructional design practitioners attribute design in failure to in practicing instructional design. The third outcome of this study will be an intellectual discussion of the first two outcomes in order to produce implications for design theory, instructional design scholarship, instructional design education, and instructional design practice.