Selecting the right educational software package has become increasingly
complex. There are many issues to consider in selecting educational
- evidence of its effectiveness;
- alignment with your school, state, or district's standards;
- suitability for your students' needs and learning styles;
- and the total cost of purchasing, maintaining, and upgrading
needed hardware and software.
The purpose of this site is to help you address the first of these
concerns, namely whether the software has been demonstrated to be
effective with schools like yours. This site will help you to use
research to guide the development of school level initiatives that
use educational software to improve achievement. A checklist
will take you through the key elements that professional researchers
consider when evaluating research.
This site also alerts you to the important features to look for
in a study and how these features can influence a study's results
and the conclusions drawn about effectiveness (see Red
for an overview).
Finally, this site provides you with a printable Buyers'
Worksheet as a quick reference guide. The worksheet will help
you collect the key information you will need when evaluating a
Helping You Evaluate Claims of Product Effectiveness
This site will help you evaluate the claims made by software publishers
and developers by expanding your techniques for evaluating key research
on the quality of educational software products. A more critical
reading of this research will better inform you of the merits of
educational software products and will help you determine if a product
meets the needs of your school or schools.
In your search for a software package that is right for you, you
may have come across claims made by the software companies about
the effectiveness of their products in producing large gains in
academic achievement. In most cases, companies back up their claims
by providing evidence in the form of student performance data collected
during a research study or a series of studies conducted on the
use of their software package.
Like the software packages themselves, the qualities of research
studies vary. In some cases, key features of a study may amplify
or reduce the actual effectiveness of the use of a software package
by students. It is important for potential buyers to know how to
evaluate these claims so that they feel confident that they are
purchasing the right product.