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Using Current Research to Design Curriculum

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 explain how to design lessons based on the analysis of current best practices and research findings to improve student achievement. We will also describe the importance of guiding instruction with data-driven decisions by using information gathered from multiple sources.

Why Use Research?

Best practices in education are those practices that are backed by the findings of valid research, conducted under the sound principles of the scientific method. The scientific method takes an idea about how something works and tests it scientifically to determine if that assumption is accurate. When designing a curriculum, using best practices based on sound educational research will ensure that students achieve maximum progress for their efforts.

Instructors can teach more effectively and more efficiently when using a research-based best practice method for developing and delivering curriculum. Without using research to inform decisions about curriculum and instruction, instructors have no way of ensuring that all their efforts in teaching students will be effective. As more research is conducted over time, best practices may change and improve with the addition of new information. It is important to differentiate between valid research and fleeting trends.

Identifying Valid Research

It is critical to identify valid research to ensure that best practices will inform curriculum design and instruction methodology. First, recognize that valid research will follow the principles of the scientific method to include: developing a hypothesis, designing a test experiment, using control groups, conducting pre-tests and post-tests, recording and analyzing collected data, gathering information from a generalizable sample size and discussing the results. A sample population in valid research needs to be large enough and similar enough demographically, in order to take a valid inference from the test population and apply it to the general population.

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