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Evidence-based Practice and Educational Technology

What is evidence-based practice?

What research supports the use of technology in learning?

How do I locate and evaluate educational research?

man calculatingWith the introduction of No Child Left Behind, the US Department of Education began to place emphasis on evidence-based education. This new emphasis included the creation of the Institute of Education Science (IES) to replace the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

Evidence-based practice involves using scientifically-based research to guide educational decisions regarding teaching and learning approaches, strategies, and interventions.

eye is for essential readingRead Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence (December 2003).This guide from the IES "offers tools to educational practitioners that help distinguish practices supported by rigorous evidence from those that are not." The article suggestions that interventions should be backed by strong evidence of effectiveness. It is suggested that information should come from studying both the quality of research studies as well as the quantity of evidence.

Although it's become an important part of curriculum planning, evidence-based practice can be frustrating and time-consuming. With conflicting definitions of what is acceptable research, teachers are confronted by difficult decisions. What if research isn't available on a practice that works well for particular children? What about differences in learners and situations?

eye is for essential readingRead A Few Things Reading Educators Should Know About Instructional Experiments by Michael Pressley in Reading Online (2003, September) from (The Reading Teacher, 57(1). This article discusses the concerns of some educators.

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Evidence-based Practice & Planning

In a world with increasing focus on accountability, evidence-based practice is becoming an integral part of curriculum development. This emphasis doesn't mean that every teacher will be conducting rigorous research studies. Instead it means that educators and librarians should be carefully planning activities and making data-driven decisions.

eye is for essential readingRead Measuring What Counts: Memorization Versus Understanding from Edutopia. This article does a great job making the case for a problem-solving approach to math. It points out the importance of understanding research and understanding what is being measured.

As you plan for technology-rich activities, ask yourself about their effectiveness. How do you know this technique, approach, or strategy will work? Where is your evidence? How can you start collecting your own evidence?

Learn about the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence's Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy in Elementary Settings and Secondary Settings. Read about these Five Standards. Then, watch a short QuickTime video clips related to each standard. Summarize the standard and the video clip. Then, discuss the how this standard might relate to integrating technology into the classroom.

It's time to start collecting your own data. You may not have the resources to conduct in-depth research projects, but at least consider ways to begin reflecting on your use of technology in the classroom. Read the following articles and consider some ways that you could build research into your practices.

Skim Having Students Learn Basic Grammar Through Technology by Hilary Pruett (Technology & Learning, November 2002).

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Evidence Based Practice and Technology

Evidence can often be found in the peer-reviewed work of small, independent researchers as well as the reports of large projects. Before accepting any research publication, consider the source. Research activities are often sponsored by large technology companies and foundations. Look for peer-reviewed publications and government sponsored research reviews for added credibility.

The CARET (Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology) from the International Society for Technology n Education is beginning to collect quality resources to support the use of technology in schools.

eye is for essential readingExplore the resources at CARET. Be sure to notice the Online Journals that are available. Many of these are available online or through the university library.

Can you find support for the use of technology in your school or library?

When considering the use of technology, spend some time exploring the evidence that might support the use of this technology in learning. In other words, if you're considering a colloraborative online project, seek out others who have done this time of project. Talk to them about their experience. Also, look for sources that provide "strong evidence". For example, the report titled Innovation and Education Change: A Study of Grassroots in NIS Schools demonstrates the effectiveness of online collaborative projects in diffusing technology in schools. They also found evidence that these projects have a major impact on student technology skills development and school performance.

Small-Scale Research

You'll quickly become discouraged if you're looking for research to support exactly what you're trying to do in the classroom or library. Instead, look for studies that support the "big ideas" you're trying to accomplish. Good sources of information are peer-reviewed professional journals.

For example, if you're interested in the emerging area of cyberviolence, the reseach done by Berson, Berson, and Ferron on Emerging Risks of Violence in the Digital Age might be useful. If you'd like to learn more about the effectiveness of project-based learning read Getting a Grip on Project-based Learning; Theory, Cases, and Recommendations by Michael Grant.

eye is for essential readingRead Online Field Trips Boost Reading Scores from eSchool News Online (May 19, 2005). This article examines the boost in test scores of 400 students using online field trips.

Large Scale Projects

Over the past twenty years, dozens of large-scale technology research projects have been conducted. These projects often generate final reports that contain useful information. The US Department of Education occasionally produce a synoposis of the major findings of this research.

eye is for essential readingRead at least one of the following two studies:

Read The Impact of Education Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has to Say by John Schacter from Milken Family Foundation (1999). This article studies the five largest research studies on educational technology.

Read The Learning Return on Our Educational Technology Investment: A Review of Findings from Research 2002 (PDF document) by Cathy Ringstaff and Loretta Kelley from WestEd. This article summarizes major research findings related to educational technology.

Links to Specific Reports

Computer and Internet Use by Children and Adolescents in 2001 from National Center for Education Statistics (October 2003)

If You Give a Kid an iBook from Apple Learning Interchange

Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2002 from National Center for Education Statistics (October 2003)

Office of Educational Technology (OET) of the US Department of Education star for quality
This office was established to provide leadership, recommend policies, and review programs related to technology in the United States. A number of recent reports have documented the status of technology in schools.

Technology in Schools. Suggestions, Tools and Guidelines for Assessing Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education from National Center for Education Statistics (November 2002)

Young Children’s Access to Computers in the Home and at School in 1999 and 2000 from National Center for Education Statistics (March 2003)

Online Journals

Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal

Links to Research on Technology in Teaching and Learning

Research on Using Technology Effectively in Teaching and Learning
Links to research collections.

Studies in Education Technology from Technology and Learning

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Technology-Rich Reading, Literacy, and Evidence Based Practice

For more than thirty years, schools have used technology as a tool for developing reading skills. For example, PLATO Learning's educational software dates back to the early 1960s.

Skim the Reading Programs That Work: A Review of Programs from Pre-Kindergarten to 4th Grade by John Schacter (1999) (PDF document). This report is the result of the Milken Family Foundation sponsored Symposium For Technology And Learning Strategies In Language Arts focusing on how technology can help or enhance the process of learning. The reading report includes evaluations of 14 technology programs, nine school-wide curricular programs, seven tutoring programs and five early childhood programs.

Skim the Reading Programs article (PDF document) from Miliken Family Foundation. Learn more about one of the approaches discussed in the article. Discuss any experiences you have with this approach. How is technology used in this approach? How does this approach compare to others in the article or your experiences with reading or teaching?

Other Reading Research

CIERA Technical Reports Series
Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement


Reading 2002 Major Results from NCES
Focuses on reading at state and national level.

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Other Educational Research Resources

Starting in 2004, ERIC will be reorganized, however many of the quality resources will remain.

Nation's Report Card from National Center for Education Statistics
Contains the current reports of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in each subject area.

Promising Practices Network
Focused on research that improves outcomes for children, youth, and families.

What Works Clearinghouse
This website is just getting started, however it will eventually warehouse studies.

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