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The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research


'Research' photo (c) 2008, Anders Sandberg - license:

This week’s “Question Of The Week” at my Education Week Teacher blog relates to how we can tell the difference between good and bad education research. As a supplement to next week’s response on that issue, I wanted to bring together some helpful resources that might be understandable to other teachers and me.

You might also be interested in these related “The Best…” lists:

The Best Places To Get Reliable, Valid, Accessible & Useful Education Data

The Best Posts & Articles To Learn About “Fundamental Attribution Error” & Schools

The Best Posts On The Study Suggesting That Bare Classroom Walls Are Best For Learning

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research:

A primer on navigating education claims by Paul Thomas.

Matthew Di Carlo at the Shanker Blog has written quite a few good posts on the topic:

In Research, What Does A “Significant Effect” Mean?

Revisiting The CREDO Charter School Analysis

Our Annual Testing Data Charade

The Education Reporter’s Dilemma

Settling Scores

A Policymaker’s Primer on Education Research: How to Understand, Evaluate and Use It is from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). Here’s a non-PDF version.

School Finance 101 often does great data analysis. Bruce Baker’s posts there, though, tend to be a little more challenging to the layperson, but it’s still definitely a must-visit blog.

Here’s a related post:

Hey, Researchers and Policymakers: Pay Attention to the Questions Teachers Ask is by Larry Cuban.

What Counts as a Big Effect? (I) is by Aaron Pallas. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research. Thanks to Scott McLeod for the tip, who also wrote a related post.

Why “Evidence-Based” Education Fails is by Paul Thomas.

How to Judge if Research is Trustworthy is by Audrey Watters.

The “Journal of Errology” has a very funny post titled What it means when it says …. Here’s a sample:

“It has long been known” means “I didn’t look up the original reference”

“It is believed that” means “I think”

“It is generally believed that” means “A couple of others think so, too”

Value-Added Versus Observations, Part One: Reliability is from The Shanker Blog.

Understand Uncertainty in Program Effects
is a report by Sarah Sparks over at Education Week.

Limitations of Education Studies is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

More Evidence of Statistical Dodginess in Psychology? is from The Wall Street Journal.

How To Tell Good Science From Bad
is by Daniel Willingham.

When You Hear Claims That Policies Are Working, Read The Fine Print is from The Shanker Blog.

Esoteric Formulas and Educational Research is from Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Effect Size Matters in Educational Research
is by Robert Slavin.

Beware Of “Breakthrough” Education Research is by Paul Bruno.

Why Nobody Wins In The Education “Research Wars” is from The Shanker Blog.

Why it’s caveat emptor when it comes to some educational research is by Tom Bennett.

Six Ways to Separate Lies From Statistics is from Bloomberg News.

Thinking (& Writing) About Education Research & Policy Implications is from Bruce Baker.

Quote Of The Day: “When Can You Trust A Data Scientist”

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists is from “Violent Metaphors.”

Word Attack: “Objective” is by Sabrina Joy Stevens.

How people argue with research they don’t like is a useful diagram from The Washington Post.

Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims is from Nature.

5 key things to know about meta-analysis is from Scientific American.

Understanding Educational Research is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Evaluation: A Revolt Against The “Randomistas”? is by Alexander Russo.

What Is A Standard Deviation? is from The Shanker Blog. I’m adding it to the same list.


Thanks to Compound Interest

Here’s how much your high school grades predict your future salary is an article in The Washington Post about a recent study. It’s gotten quite a bit of media attention. How Well Do Teen Test Scores Predict Adult Income? is an article in the Pacific Standard that provides some cautions about reading too much into the study. It makes important points that are relevant to the interpretation of any kind of research.

How qualitative research contributes is by Daniel Willingham.

Why Statistically Significant Studies Aren’t Necessarily Significant is from Pacific Standard.

The Problem with Research Evidence in Education is from Hunting English.

The U.S. Department of Education has published a glossary of education research terms.

If the Research is Not Used, Does it Exist? is from The Teachers College Record.

How to Read Education Data Without Jumping to Conclusions is a good article in The Atlantic by Jessica Lahey & Tim Lahey.

Here’s an excerpt:


A Draft Bill of Research Rights for Educators is by Daniel Willingham.

Which Education Research Is Worth the Hype? is from The Education Writers Association.

This Is Interesting & Depressing: Only 13% Of Education Research Experiments Are Replicated

Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post picked up my original post on the lack of replication in education research (This Is Interesting & Depressing: Only .13% Of Education Research Experiments Are Replicated) and wrote a much more complete piece on it. She titled it A shocking statistic about the quality of education research.

Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research To Practice is a new site from The Harvard School of Education that looks promising.

When researchers lie, here are the words they use is from The Boston Globe.

Education researchers don’t check for errors — dearth of replication studies is from The Hechinger Report.

How to Tell If You Should Trust Your Statistical Models is from The Harvard Business Review.

What You Need To Know About Misleading Education Graphs, In Two Graphs is from The Shanker Blog.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 800 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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