Jan 30, 2023 | gga

Can evidence have quality?

If you’re going to use some new method to teach, you should want some evidence that this method works. But what makes evidence? Even harder, what makes good evidence? In healthcare, this question is understood: there is a hierarchy of evidence. In fact, over the last 25 years, evidence-based medicine has moved from strict hierarchies to more sophisticated decision tables.

In physics, as I understand it, the concept of a hierarchy of evidence doesn’t exist. You have theories, you have experiments, you have a causal relationship. Does the experiment conform to the theory? Can the experiment be replicated? Done.

Maths is even more straightforward: here’s a proof*.

But neither of those involve theories about humans. Reproducibility, repeatability and ethics all become pretty significant concerns in healthcare. Particularly in mental health: where the physical and social sciences collide.

Education is a social science. What does the hierarchy of evidence look like in education?

* Except… actually, maths proofs are far more subject to human acceptance than you’d expect. They are not universal truths.


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