Happy New Year!
It’s been 6 months since our last meeting. Both @Alby and @AlomShaha have been unavailable to run the club over the latter half of 2012 and the autumn school term is traditionally a long and stressful term so, despite a few false starts, we’ve not been able to get things up and running again. Until now.
The first meeting of 2013 (15th January at 7:30pm) is inspired by the documentary on Radio 4 last week, where Ben Goldacre discusses using evidence to inform policy, concentrating on how suitable randomised controlled trials (RCTs) might be when used in as evidence for social policies in areas such as crime and education. This programme can be downloaded before Friday 11th January from here http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r4choice. It’s not possible for us to distribute this podcast after this time as it contravenes BBC policy so download it as soon as possible.
There are some useful papers we could discuss however we suffer from the usual problems i.e.: a lack of open access to research papers. So for this meeting, we will look at the paper written for the Cabinet Office by Dr Ben Goldacre, Professor David Torgerson et al:
Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials.
Haynes L., Service, O., Goldacre, B., Torgerson D. (2012). Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials. Cabinet Office Behavioural
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/test-learn-adapt-developing-public-policy-randomised-controlled-trials [download .pdf]
The paper doesn’t concentrate exclusively on RCTs in educational research, but there are some examples within that do suggest that RCTs should be used to form education policy.
To complement the paper here are some other open reference materials that are available:
- Introduction to research: http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/management/external/els/pdf/introductiontoresearch.pdf (from @Bio_Joe)
- A guide to RCTs in Education Research : http://www.nfer.ac.uk/nfer/publications/RCT01/RCT01.pdf (from @Bio_Joe)
- A Systematic Phonics Review: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/RB711.pdf
- A series of publications of in Education research using RCTs by Professor Paul Connolly (@ProfConnolly, http://www.paulconnolly.net/) and the Centre for Effective Education at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforEffectiveEducation/PUBLICATIONS/
- The Education Endowment Foundation mentioned on Ben’s radio programme. http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects/success-for-all
- Two Educational RCTs in Kenya : http://ipl.econ.duke.edu/bread/papers/0809conf/Dupas.pdf http://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/impact-distributing-school-uniforms-childrens-education-kenya
Questions to discuss during the meeting are :
1. How well would the methods described in the paper work in your school? Would you consider running or taking part in a randomised control trial in your school? Why or why not?
2. What concerns do you have with the ethical considerations of using RCTs in educational research?
3. Do you agree with Ben’s assertion (in the documentary) that RCTs provide better evidence (“the gold standard”) than other methods of research for social sciences.
4. Which educational intervention would you like to see more evidence for, in the form of RCTs (or other methodology)?
The meeting is Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 7:30pm UTC, to be moderated by @A_Weatherall. Remember to use the hashtag #sciteachjc during the discussion.