Lessons for education from evidence-based medicine

Getting Better: Two major studies by Giving Evidence looks at how evidence is produced, shared and used EBM report coverin medicine: what works, what doesn’t, and lessons for the ‘evidence system’ in education in less economically developed countries.

Despite rising spending, education attainment is flat in many countries, and worsening in many including India. About half of Africa’s children miss out on school and basic skills. By contrast, life expectancy and prevalence of many diseases have dramatically improved. Why the difference? Many objections in education to increased measurement and evidence-based practice are similar to those in medicine ~30-60 years ago, so it’s worth examining the lessons.

The first report outlines the ‘evidence systems’ in medicine and education. A summary is here. The full report is here (and thorough! It has ~500 references).

The second report looks at learnings from the ‘evidence-system’ in medicine, covers the work to make interventions comparable, how experiments became normal and experimental methods were developed, big historical wins, how the transition to evidence-based practice happened (and continues), and implications for social sectors.

Key findings & recommendations include:

–  MUCH less is spent on research in education than in medicine: perhaps 150 times less.

–  There’s very little reliable research into what works, even basic things like desks or books. This matters since some ‘intuitively obvious’ things don’t work. Funders could prioritise enabling more research into what works, including long studies since some effects of education take a long time to become evident.

–  Much education research (esp. by non-academics) is hard to find, unclear and of variable quality. Recommendation: to compile / index it so it’s findable, and have clear protocol for detailing the interventions and research method as well as findings. This will enable ‘discoveries’ to spread better, and enable work to improve research quality.

–  Research, practice and teaching are intermingled in medicine but not really in education. Perhaps this enables We have a quick look at policing, which is more similar to education, and which is becoming more evidence-driven.

More background on this project—>

It’s hard to make good decisions if loads of the evidence is missing or garbage—>

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2 Responses to Lessons for education from evidence-based medicine

  1. Pingback: Making research findable and useful | Giving Evidence

  2. Pingback: Making charity & philanthropy more evidence-based | Giving Evidence

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