📑 Here’s what is going wrong with ‘evidence-based’ policies and practices in schools in Australia

Bookmarked Here’s what is going wrong with ‘evidence-based’ policies and practices in schools in Australia by James Ladwig (EduResearch Matters)
So on a general level, the case for evidence-based practice has a definite value. But let’s not over-extend this general appeal, because we also have plenty of experience of seeing good research turn into zealous advocacy with dubious intent and consequence. The current over-extensions of the empirical appeal have led paradigmatic warriors to push the authority of their work well beyond its actual capacity to inform educational practice. Here, let me name two forms of this over-extension.
James Ladwig unpacks evidence-based approaches. In response to ‘synthetic reviews’, he suggests:

Simply ask ‘effect on what?’ and you have a clear idea of just how limited such meta-analyses actually are.

While in regards to RCT’s, he states:

By definition, RCTs cannot tell us what the effect of an innovation will be simply because that innovation has to already be in place to do an RCT at all. And to be firm on the methodology, we don’t need just one RCT per innovation, but several – so that meta-analyses can be conducted based on replication studies.

Another issue is that Research shows what has happened, not what will happen. This is not to say no to evidence, but a call to be sensible about what we think that we can learn from it.

What it can do is provide a solid basis of knowledge for teachers to know and use in their own professional judgements about what is the best thing to do with their students on any given day. It might help convince schools and teachers to give up on historical practices and debates we are pretty confident won’t work. But what will work depends entirely on the innovation, professional judgement and, as Paul Brock once put it, nous of all educators.

This touches on Mark Esner’s argument that great teacher will make anything work to a degree. Also, Deborah Netolicky’s observations about evidence.

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