Learning Practical Design Knowledge through Co-Designing Storyline Science Curriculum Units

William R. Penuel*, Anna Ruth Allen, Kate Henson, Melissa Campanella, Rachel Patton, Kristin Rademaker, Will Reed, Douglas Watkins, Kerri Wingert, Brian Reiser, Aliza Zivic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this paper, we explore how co-design creates opportunities to learn practical design knowledge related to clarifying and balancing goals for a particular class of design contexts: developing materials that meet ambitious, externally defined disciplinary learning goals that also connect to the interests and priorities of students from minoritized groups and communities. University-based researchers, classroom teachers, and district-level science leaders co-designed high school chemistry units over a two-year period. A collaborative analysis of the tools and processes used in workshops showed that engaging in co-design and reflection supported the team in clarifying and balancing goals, and it led all participants to call for refinements to the co-design process. Interactions during co-design and reflections on them highlight tensions that arose during co-design as well as the tools and strategies for working through them. These findings point to both the possibilities and limits of co-design for clarifying and balancing multiple goals and the need to consider key constraints on co-design within the current infrastructures of schools and educational research. They also illustrate how studying co-design teams as a collective can help identify design principles and processes that can support the learning of other teams seeking to balance a focus on standards with a focus on student interests and community priorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-170
Number of pages23
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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