Research School Network: 10 reasons why we should be evidence-informed How evidence can help your decision making

10 reasons why we should be evidence-informed

How evidence can help your decision making

by Kingsbridge Research School
on the

1. Using evidence helps us avoid wasting resources that might be better deployed elsewhere. A key question from the EEF’s Implementation guidance report is, Are there less effective practices that can be stopped to free up time and resources?’

2. Being informed means going beyond what Professor Becky Francis has calledsurface level compliance’ to the evidence, the biggest threat to any change in education’. It’s not enough to look at the headline claims. We need to dive into the evidence to understand the purported mechanism of change behind any programme. If we do this, we emerge with an explicable narrative, meaning we can communicate a strategy with fidelity to its active ingredients. A sharp understanding of active ingredients helps reduce the chance of programme drift.

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3. If we use evidence, we give ourselves a higher chance of success – we’re already following a good bet. The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit is a great place to start, but remember to click through the links to dig into the evidence.

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4. Using evidence helps give our decisions more integrity (OED: integrity, material wholeness’). They are considered, informed, and open to scrutiny and less prone to partiality and the allure of the new.

5. Being evidence informed means we are less susceptible to marketing claims, anecdotal evidence and appeals to tradition. Another resource that’s helpful when it comes to checking claims is the site That’s a Claim! Also, read Dr Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science – it’s great.

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6. A focus on evidence develops awareness of good implementation. When looking at individual studies, we need to be attentive to context – how and where was a strategy used? With what support? Often, a theoretically sound approach will fail to have the desired effect because of poor implementation. Giving a strategy the best chance of success requires careful planning and monitoring. Using evidence this way helps to create an implementation friendly” climate’.

7. An evidence-informed profession that is better able to scrutinise claims and interrogate the reasons behind decisions is a more active participant in its own future. At the EEF say, evidence supplements expertise; it doesn’t supplant it.

8. An evidence-informed approach provides data and analysis for further improvement. Because we know the characteristics of a strategy, we are better able to monitor and evaluate its implementation and effect. This includes highlighting gaps in the evidence base!

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9. It’s ethical. When researchers investigate a particular strategy, they do so with many more students or schools than any one teacher can. As well as helping us identify ineffective approaches, this helps us avoid bias around what does or doesn’t work. Take this parallel from the BMJ Best Practice site: medical knowledge changes all the time. And what doctors used to think was the best thing to do, even a few years ago, might actually be considered harmful today.‘

10. Although it is often very time-consuming and expensive to garner evidence, the results save time for those looking at how to improve aspects of practice, providing at least a good starting point for development.

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