Teacher, head of research and writer at Ballarat Clarendon College
Meta-Analysis: Issues, strengths, limitations, alternatives and implications
Meta-analyses and systematic reviews have risen in prominence in education in recent times, with the work of Hattie and the EEF Toolkit having particular influence. Inevitably, this has been accompanied by both enthusiastic promotion of the results and criticism – of both the meta-analysis and systematic review process and the incorrect interpretation of results. Some critics have focused specifically on effect sizes. Others point to individual studies that fail to replicate results as evidence of fallibility. Between the dangers of, on the one hand, unthinkingly swallowing whole a toxin-infested but appetising-looking morsel and, on the other, throwing out a precious baby with some slightly discoloured bathwater, there must surely be an appropriate middle-ground in making sensible, critical interpretations of findings from meta-analysis? Are we expecting (or claiming) too much from meta-analysis? What are the strengths and the limitations of using the results of currently existing meta-analyses to shape practical decisions in education?
Rob Coe is Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University. He is researcher in educational assessment, evaluation and evidence-based practice, and a former secondary maths teacher.
Rob has contributed to the writing of some key publications that connect evidence and educational practice. He is a co-author of the Sutton Trust / Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit and the EEF’s DIY Evaluation Guide for teachers. He is lead author of the Sutton Trust report What Makes Great Teaching?, co-author of the Teacher Development Trust’s Developing Great Teaching report, and a member of advisory groups for a wide range of educational organisations.
Steve Higgins is Professor of Education at Durham University. As former primary school teacher, he has a particular interest in the use of evidence to inform policy and to support decision-making in professional practice in education. He is the lead author of the Sutton Trust – Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit.
Philippa Cordingley is a renowned expert in use of research in education. Philippa led CUREE’s systematic research reviews into use of research and professional development and learning including Developing Great Teaching and Developing Great Subject Teaching. Current projects include the evaluation of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Teacher Development Fund, of several research-based SSIF CPD interventions and CUREE’s signature service for evaluating school professional learning and improvement environments, SKEIN. She Chairs of the Foundation for Leadership in Education’s Research Council, is an Expert group member for OECD’s Country reviews of ITE and CPDL and a trustee of Big Education, the School 21 MAT and CPDL
Greg Ashman grew up in the UK. In 1997, after studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge, he began training as a teacher at the Institute of Education in London. He went on to teach in three London comprehensive schools and took on roles including head of science, assistant headteacher and deputy headteacher. In 2010 he moved to Ballarat, Australia, with his young family. Since then, he has worked as Head of Mathematics at Ballarat Clarendon College. During this time he has developed an interest in education research and is currently undertaking a PhD in Instructional Design, as well as taking on the role of Head of Research at Clarendon.