The NFER Education Trials Unit

About the Trials Unit

The NFER Education Trials Unit held its first workshop in September 2013 and was set up to facilitate the delivery of highly robust RCTs to evaluate educational initiatives. It consists of 13 staff from our Research and Research & Product Operations departments, assisted by an administrator, and meets regularly to discuss issues of design and analysis. Its primary objective is to ensure that trials are run as close to CONSORT guidelines as possible.

Due to the unique blend of expertise at NFER, we offer a service that covers all aspects of RCT delivery in an education setting, including both impact and process evaluations. The impact evaluation assesses whether the intervention has made an impact on the trial group in comparison to the control group. This is carried out by members of our centre for statistics, in line with trial methodology. The process evaluation is run alongside the impact evaluation and explores how interventions and new approaches in teaching and learning are implemented, in order to inform sustainability, scalability and roll out of a trialled scheme.

NFER are also experienced in trial management, overseeing a trial’s protocol and testing arrangements, understanding the strict methodological requirements of randomised controlled trials and liaising efficiently with delivery partners. We have a dedicated trial logistics team skilled in participant recruitment, maintaining participation and data security, as well as other crucial elements of randomised controlled trials.

Typically, a trial will involve a delivery partner who conceived of the intervention being trialled and an independent evaluator. Whilst it is important that the evaluator retains certain responsibilities such as randomisation and data analysis, there is scope for the delivery partner to have an active role in the trial beyond just intervention delivery. The precise responsibility split varies for each trial and the Unit is hence very well placed to offer a bespoke service to any organisation wishing to evaluate an intervention that is embedded in an education context.

Please click on the sections above to read further information about what NFER can offer.

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 Please also see the following posts from The NFER Blog about RCTs: