An Educator's Guide to

Does this research finding apply to my classroom, school or district?
How do I determine if the research is designed to support these claims?
How is student achievement measured?


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.

You should never base any decision about the effectiveness of educational technology on the results of just one study. You should make your decision only after collecting multiple pieces of evidence, including other studies that document the effectiveness of the program for schools and students like your own.

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This site was created by the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International under a task order from the Planning and Evaluation Service, U.S. Department of Education (DHHS Contract # 282-00-008-Task 3).

Last updated on: 11/04/02