Connecting EdTech Product Use to Student Outcomes: How to Quickly Find and Interpret Research

August 5, 2021
AUTHOR
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AUTHOR

Zach Friedman

Analytics Intern

,

ClassLink

AUTHOR
Headshot
AUTHOR

Mary Batiwalla

Director of Evaluation Analytics

,

ClassLink

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Welcome to Student Outcomes: Connect the Dots With Usage Data. This post is the second in a three-part series designed to support education leaders in making better decisions about digital resources. The series will focus on using data to ensure equitable digital learning access and using research to increase the instructional impact of digital resources. Here’s where you can read part one and part three of this series.

Finding EdTech Efficacy Studies

Two of the most comprehensive and reputable repositories for studies are Evidence for ESSA and What Works Clearinghouse. Let’s explore how to use these sites effectively.

Evidence for ESSA 

This site was developed by the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University to provide information in line with the Every Student Succeeds Act’s evidence requirements.

Here’s how to use the site to find relevant studies:

  1. Navigate to https://www.evidenceforessa.org.
  2. If you have a specific application you want to investigate, search for it using the top right search bar. Proceed to step 6.
  1. If you do not have a specific application in mind, click on a subject area in the center of the home page (Reading, Math, etc.).
  2. On the left side of the screen, check the “Technology” filter under the “Features” section (“Features” is the last section of filters but may not be available for all subject areas).
  1. Choose an application; they are ranked in order of significance of research findings.
  2. On the right side of the product page, under “Detailed Overview,” select “Key Studies.”
  1. The study citation(s) will appear, copy and paste into Google Scholar or any other research search engine to find the study.

What Works Clearinghouse 

Under the U.S. Department of Education, the Institute for Education created What Works Clearinghouse to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions.

Here’s how to use the site to find relevant studies:

  1. Navigate to https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc.
  2. Select the subject area you want to explore (Literacy, Math, Behavior, etc.).
  3. If you have a specific application you’d like to investigate, use Ctrl + F or Command + F to search the page for the desired application and select it. Proceed to step 6.
  4. If you do not have a specific application in mind, select the Curriculum filter using the green box labeled “More Filters” on the left side of the page. The Curriculum filter is in “Program Type.”
  1. Choose an application; they are ranked in order of significance of research findings.
  2. Under the “Studies meeting standards” column, select the underlined text “X studies meet standards,” then click on one or more of the linked study citations.

How To Proceed if You Can’t Find an Application

If you can’t find a particular application on either website, it is still possible that researchers have completed unevaluated studies.

Check for studies on the vendor’s website under an “efficacy,” “evidence,” or “research” page. Since a third party has not summarized the paper, it will take longer to interpret the findings, but we’ll share tips for interpreting and applying those insights for your district in part three of this blog series.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Zach Friedman

Analytics Intern

,

ClassLink

Mary Batiwalla

Director of Evaluation Analytics

,

ClassLink

For over a decade Mary has dedicated her career to education, serving as a practitioner, researcher, and executive leader. In her most recent role as Assistant Commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Education, she led assessments, accountability, and data governance.