When you finish reading a study, step back and reflect upon what
the researchers claim overall. Do the various components of the
study -- the sample, the design, and the statistical analyses --
justify the conclusions? If you have questions, pursue them. Consult
colleagues, the research office in your school or district, or members
of professional associations to get their observations on the study's
findings. Discuss the elements of the study and the applicability
of the findings to your school or district. See whether anyone has
anecdotal information about the program that may be consistent with
the findings. Seek out other studies and evaluations of the program.
A decision about the effectiveness of a technology program should
never be based on the findings from a single study. Accumulate your
evidence and make an informed decision.
Download and print out the Buyer's Worksheet
as a quick reference guide. The worksheet will help you collect
the key information you will need when evaluating a software package.
Implementation Can Make All the Difference
Once you have selected and begun to use the software for instruction,
monitor how it is being used and its effects (or lack of effects).
Software doesn't improve achievement if it is not used. It may not
increase (or may even reduce) test scores if its design and use
are not aligned with broader curriculum and instruction in your
school. Teacher expertise (including professional development in
using the technology) is often associated with large differences
in how effectively the technology use affects student learning.
For a useful guide on collecting and using data on performance
to fine tune implementation and gain additional improvement see
the Educator's Guide
to Evaluating The Use of Technology in Schools and Classrooms.
For additional information on research design and basic statistics
and measurement, go to Resources.