How should a principal decide whether to change the mathematics curriculum used in his school? How should a superintendent decide whether to expand her district's investment in early childhood programming? How should a teacher decide what is the best way to differentiate instruction in their classroom? The dilemmas we face as education professionals require us to make sense of, evaluate, and prioritize different kinds of evidence from varied sources. Yet many of us do not have the formal training to assess the quality of evidence or to build our own evidence about the work we do in classrooms and schools each day. This means that we miss out on the opportunity to benefit from what research reveals about effective strategies for improving student outcomes, instead reinventing the wheel or trying interventions that are unlikely to work well in our specific contexts. We may also miss the opportunity to learn systematically from our work and improve it over time.
Adapted from the HGSE EdM foundational course designed by Carrie Conaway and James Kim, Using Evidence in Practice is designed to help you evaluate the many forms of evidence you will encounter and learn how to use evidence as part of your strategy for designing and improving education systems. Throughout the learning experience, you will apply key concepts to your own setting and needs, and design your own learning agenda – a set of questions you need to answer to improve a program, policy, or practice – and map it to the types of evidence you would need to answer those questions. Learning agenda topics might include an investigation into the reasons for chronic absenteeism in a K12 district, or an exploration of the relationship between student advising and dropout rates in a public university.
Using Evidence in Practice is a six-week online workshop where you will gain a deeper understanding of the utility of evidence in education, explore strategies to effectively use evidence, and begin the process of implementing a learning agenda in your context. This workshop includes a combination of videos, readings, activities, and other practical resources, along with ongoing discussions and supportive peer-feedback.
Weekly topics include:
- Turning problems of practice into questions of diagnosis, implementation, and impact
- Determining what type of evidence you need and whether it’s relevant
- Descriptive evidence: What is happening?
- Causal evidence: Does a policy, program, or practice cause an impact?
- Process evidence: Why or how is it happening?
- Synthetic evidence: What do we already know?
This learning experience is asynchronous and takes place within the learning management system Canvas. Asynchronous programs do not have any live components and are designed to be self-paced. However, this program does include a suggested schedule with weekly deadlines in order to provide a guiding structure. Completing assignments on the recommended schedule is not mandatory, but allows participants to engage with and learn from the entire cohort, which helps to build a community of practice. We estimate the course will require 5 hours per week to complete, culminating in a certificate awarding 30 clock hours.
- Turn problems of practice into research questions.
- Map research questions to the types of evidence needed to answer them.
- Evaluate the quality and relevance of that evidence.
Who Should Attend
This program is designed for educators across a range of roles including:
- Teachers/Teacher Leaders
- Instructional Coaches
- Program Directors
- Non-Profit Team Leads or Executives
The content is appropriate for both U.S. and international audiences, and for educators in early ed, K12, or higher ed.