Self-Organisation in Course Design: A Collaborative, Theory-Based Approach to Course Development in Inclusive Education

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This study identified and described the need for reform in higher education, teacher education and inclusive education and the convergence point of four areas of need identified in the literature, creating a conceptual framework and course design process that addressed these needs. These were the need for a theoretical base to inform an effective course design process, the need to reduce the theory-to-practice gap, the need to utilise collaborative practice and the need to examine the impact of institutional practice on course design and reform. The design process examined was a longitudinal study of a change initiative within Regional University (RU '' a pseudonym used throughout the study). Complexity theory was used as a design tool and provided a theoretical basis for the content of the course while design-based research informed the design process. A three-phased design process was employed to create a course design approach within the higher education context that was practical, responsive to contextual needs and reflective of contemporary standards in the field of inclusive education. The framework was informed by design-based research and was significantly influenced by a process of development initially suggested by Herrington, McKenney, Reeves and Oliver (2007). The study involved applying the design-based methodology to enact six principles of self-organisation to create an inclusive education course. This included studying the nature of the interaction among members of a design team, the collaboration and feedback process, how the methodology evolved and adapted over time, and the way a course and subjects were designed to provide a coherent, interrelated experience for students. Design-based research processes led to the evolution and examination of the course through three phases. Phase 1 focused on establishing the areas of need in the field using extant literature and a validation process to determine that the needs existed in the setting where the research was conducted. After determining that these needs existed, the processes of design and review at the study institution were examined. Phase 2 involved the development of a theoretically derived course design process and the application of a theoretical framework to address the needs. Phase 3 focused on the experiences of design team members and examined their views and perspectives on the development of a design approach, use of theory, the design process, course and subject design and the cycles of feedback. To further triangulate and validate these experiences, student feedback and studies published by design team members that utilised some of the design principles from this study were highlighted. The knowledge gained from the design, approach and results of this study was used to develop a set of design principles and a course design model. The design process contributed new knowledge to the process of course design in the higher education context and mapped a process within teacher education, and more specifically inclusive education. This study demonstrated that theory could be incorporated successfully into both the design process and course content, in a way that responded to areas of need identified in the field.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Bain, Alan, Principal Supervisor
Award date01 Sept 2014
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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