Raymond Gowlett

Teacher – Central Algoma Secondary School, Desbarats, ON, Canada


Understanding and Leveraging the Gold Standard of the Cochrane Collaboration to Improve Pedagogy and Debunk Education Myths

The effectiveness of your teaching practice is limited by your ability to analyze evidence critically. With thousands of randomized control trials and systematic reviews being published yearly, it is more important than ever that educators have the ability to understand the difference between a pedagogy being sold on cherry picked cohort studies, and one that is being backed by a well written systematic review of randomized control trials. I was shocked when I discovered that not one educator I had met, understood the differences between a prospective cohort study and a randomized control trial. For the past three years, I have been developing a new way of teaching evidence based decision making to teachers and students that I don’t think is being replicated anywhere else.

This session will introduce participants to the hierarchy of evidence, fundamental concepts of evidence based decision making and the gold standard of systematic reviews, the Cochrane Collaboration.

The aim of the session will be to cover the following fundamental concepts: correlation vs. causation, statistical significance vs. real world relevance, surrogate measures vs. meaningful outcomes, and absolute risk reductions vs. relative risk reductions. The session will teach the participants how to read and understand systematic reviews, forest plots, and effect sizes. I will also cover what to do when you encounter what seems to be publication bias and abnormally large values for heterogeneity


Teaching, understanding, and using evidence based practice has become a passion of mine in the last few years. I have been pioneering a new way of teaching evidence based decision making through the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum to students and teachers in my region. Teachers and students are becoming increasingly frustrated with the ever increasing amount of ‘research’ that is being used to manipulate behaviours. The antidote, is to teach the skills required to analyze the primary research that lead to these recommendations that is…to think critically and evaluate evidence; to ignore click bait editors who misinterpret results and sensationalize headlines; to be able to see through the pseudo science.