Children’s experiences with digital technologies
Children’s experiences with digital technologies

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4 Evidence in education

Learning is a complex process. It involves students with different skills, competences and learning needs, it involves teachers who may be using different teaching methods, it involves interactions with peers with different expertise and perspectives, and it involves various resources such as physical or digital artefacts (pen and paper, computers, etc.). Due to these complexities:

… education as opposed to other disciplines such as medicine and agriculture, has been less concerned with evaluating different pedagogical approaches and determining their impact on learning outcomes.

(Herodotou et al., 2019)

In other words, less emphasis has been given on assessing available evidence when decisions about teaching and learning are made, such as whether and how digital technologies should be used by children to support learning. For example, in the above paper, one of the teaching approaches reviewed for evidence is ‘learning with robots’. The authors concluded that existing studies have not yet illustrated that a robot can be more effective that a human teacher, yet they recommended that more studies should be conducted to explore further and establish the relationship between this teaching approach (learning with robots) and specific learning outcomes.

The importance of evidence in decision making in education is evident in the work of organisations such as the Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) in the UK that has conducted several studies to establish the effectiveness of different teaching approaches in education. A teaching and learning toolkit (see Figure 2) is used to provide an overview of existing evidence about certain teaching and learning approaches and gives information about impact on attainment, cost and the supporting strength of evidence. For example, among the most effective teaching approaches were found to be the provision of feedback to students, teaching that aims to develop metacognition and self-regulation, and giving homework to secondary students. Another similar organisation is the National Centre for Education and Evaluation (NCEE) in the USA that conducts large-scale evaluations of education programs with funds from the government. Among the interventions with the highest effectiveness ratings are phonological awareness training, reading recovery and dialogic reading (see the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ).

This is a screenshot from a toolkit. It lists a number of projects such as 1stClass@Number, Accelerated Reader and Achieve Together.
Figure 4 A screenshot of the toolkit used to summarise evidence about different teaching and learning approaches (Retrieved from projects-and-evaluation/ projects/

Activity 3

After reading about evidence and its importance in making decisions or assessing claims and opinions, you should go back to Activity 2 and reflect on your answers. Consider the type and strength of evidence based on which arguments in the two articles you read have been made. Write your answer below.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371