Proof Points: A new experiment turns classrooms into laboratories

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By Jill Barshay

I often wonder why the work of education researchers rarely makes it into classrooms. Sometimes practitioners don’t care what the research says and prefer to rely on their own judgment. But it’s often the case that researchers don’t answer the questions that teachers want to know. A new experiment, backed by the former CEO of Google, encourages teachers to conduct well-designed classroom research on questions that matter to them.
 
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Key Findings 
  • Thirty teachers are conducting experiments in their classrooms that are considerably more rigorous than a lot of previous teacher-led research, which historically hasn’t involved control groups.
  • No overall conclusions can be drawn from these mini randomized controlled trials and other experiments because they are too small.
  • Pooling large numbers of these small classroom experiments could produce reliable conclusions about teaching and learning in the future.
Lit Review 
  1. Churches, R., Dommett, E.J., Devonshire, I.M., Hall, R., Higgins, S. and Korin, A. (2020), Translating Laboratory Evidence into Classroom Practice with Teacher-Led Randomized Controlled Trials—A Perspective and Meta-Analysis. Mind, Brain, and Education, 14: 292-302.
  2. William Hinkley, Neil Heffernan, and Helen Lee Bouygues. (March 2020) New Study Shows That Students Writing Down Math Problems Increases High School Math Outcomes. Reboot Foundation.
  3. Herold, Ben. (May 1, 2018) Pearson Tests Growth-Mindset Messages in Software. Education Week.
    Cynthia E. Coburn and William R. Penuel (2016) Research–Practice Partnerships in Education: Outcomes, Dynamics, and Open Questions. Educational Researcher.
  4. Riel, M. & Lepori, K. (2011). A Meta-Analysis of the Outcomes of Action Research. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association conference, April 2011, New Orleans.
  5. Riel, M. (2019)  Understanding Collaborative Action Research Center for Collaborative Action Research.
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