NFER unveils guide to RCTs for schools
4 April 2014
A new resource to help schools get to grips with randomised controlled trials (RCTs) will be officially launched by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) at the ResearchEd Midlands conference this Saturday, 6 April.
Part of the Foundation’s drive to support evidence-informed teaching, How to… Run Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs): An Introduction is designed to demystify the RCT process, in a jargon-free way, for busy teachers who want to find out more about this research method.
The guide is aimed at senior leaders, teachers and those already experienced in research who are interested in finding out about this technical subject and how RCTs are implemented effectively. Written by NFER researchers, this guide defines what RCTs are, why they are beneficial and how to plan an RCT - giving recommendations on sample size, measurements, and results analysis. It is an ideal introduction for those asked to participate in a large scale RCT.
This is the latest in a series of "How To" publications, all designed to help practitioners run research projects in education. Readers are taken through definitions, methods, benefits, pitfalls and practical advice, all to ensure their research is based on professional guidance.
Further information about RCTs can be found on the new NFER Trials Unit website.
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) seeks to measure impact by identifying a causal link between an intervention and change. An RCT is a trial carried out on two (or more) groups where participants are randomly assigned to either an ‘intervention’ (i.e. the intervention group) or ‘controlled condition’ (i.e. the control group). Each group is tested at the end of a trial and the results from the groups are compared to see if the intervention has made a difference, in other words, has the intervention achieved its desired outcome? If the randomised groups are large enough, we can be confident that differences observed are due to the intervention and not some other factor.
RCTs are highly regarded by many organisations involved in education research including the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). As with any research methodology, RCTs have their place and are not suitable for all research and evaluation. For more information see the new NFER Trials Unit website
NFER has a worldwide reputation for providing independent and rigorous research in education. As a charity, any surplus generated by the Foundation is reinvested in research projects./schools.