Weekly Digest #1: Evidence-Based Practice in Education

We decided to start a weekly digest! The goal is to post on Sunday, to go out to subscribers on Monday mornings each week.

Here's how the digest started. We recently received the following message:

“Hey Learning Scientists! I had a question today from a colleague who said he would like to keep up to date on new learning science. I sent him here, but was wondering if there are any feeds, etc. that could send quality science straight to his inbox. If you know of anything, can you share? Thanks!”

Since the answer was “no, we don’t know anything like that”, we’ve decided to start our own! Every week, we will pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. Our criteria for the links are as follows:

  1. They must be free to access online without having to sign up for anything.
  2. At least one of us must have actually read them thoroughly.
  3. They must be scientifically accurate.
  4. We must provide the type of source (e.g., journal article, blog, etc.) and credentials of the writer (e.g., journalist, teacher, etc.).


For this week, our theme is “evidence-based practice in education”.

1) Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education: Translational Educational Science - Journal Article by Henry L. Roediger (Professor of Psychology)

In this piece Psychological Science for the Public Interest piece, Roediger laments the fact that educational practice does not, for the most part, rely on research findings. Instead, he claims, somewhat dubious sources such as untested theories or – even worse – marketing create fads in education.


2) Connecting to Practice: How we can put education research to work - Editorial by Thomas J. Kane (Professor of Education and Economics)

A very informative piece that traces the U.S. history of attempts to close racial gaps in educational achievement. Kane also describes how the Institute of Educational Sciences allots its research budget, and makes suggestions for how the allocations could be amended to increase communication between researchers and educational stake-holders.


3) There Is No FDA For Education. Maybe There Should Be - Interview by Eric Westervelt (Journalist; @Ericnpr)

A follow-up interview of Thomas J. Kane by NPR’s education corresponded.


4) Evidence-Based Practice: A Handbook for teachers and school leaders – Blog post by Gary Jones (Former further education college senior manager; PhD in Educational Management; @DrGaryJones)

Gary’s blog explores the challenges of implementing educational change based on evidence. In the handbook linked to this post, Gary discusses how hard it is for teachers to tell the difference between practices that “seem to work”, and those that actually do according to research; and what can be done about it.


5) Always Evidence-Based Practice. Or Not? – Blog post by Cristina Milos (Teacher; @surreallyno)

An interesting philosophical discussion on the limits of evidence-based practice that we should all consider.