Evidence-Based Practice in Education

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will look at what it means to include evidence-based best practices in education. We will also look at how valid evidence is gleaned from research-driven, credible sources.

All the Way with LBJ

As part of his War on Poverty, Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the importance of validity in educational research and signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into law in 1965. This legislation developed a program for standardized testing to create a massive data set of students' educational achievement.

LBJ is credited with the implementation of federal educational standards, to include testing and accountability based on evidence gleaned from valid research

ESEA Research Guidelines

ESEA is a federal mandate providing guidelines for teachers to employ sound research and evidence-based best practices in the classroom. Specifically, acceptable research has been evaluated on several federal standards by a panel of independent specialists. Research that has met the following criteria would be eligible for funding and recommended for use in classrooms:

  • Soundness of design
  • The possibilities of securing productive results
  • The adequacy of resources to conduct the proposed research, surveys, or demonstrations
  • Relationship to other similar educational research or dissemination programs already completed or in progress

Let's look at what each of these criteria mean in a little more detail.

Soundness of Design

A sound research design is generally considered one that is valid, which means that it actually measures what it claims to measure. Some of those markers of a sound research design are that it has a generalizable sample size. This means that you have enough people participating in the research that you can make assumptions about the wider population based on the results in the study. Another marker of a sound research design is that it is based on the principles of the scientific method. The scientific method is the standard of creating new knowledge, and it provides a list of steps to take to conduct sound research.

Productive Results

Securing productive results means that a study was conducted in a well-developed and valid scientific design, and the results of that study supported the hypothesis or found a better way to approach a problem. Productive results are also replicable by further research so that the study can be repeated to further bolster its validity. These results should also be realistically capable of implementation. For example, it may not be financially feasible to provide every student with their own tablet.

Adequacy of Resources

Candidates for conducting federally-sponsored research in educational best practices must have adequate available resources to conduct the proposed research, service, or demonstrations. Universities, colleges, and educational research centers are usually well supplied with adequate resources to conduct research. To supplement these resources, the federal government under this law has provided for grant funding programs to offset the cost of conducting research.

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