For whom does “what works” work? The political economy of evidence-based education

Cowen, Nick (2019) For whom does “what works” work? The political economy of evidence-based education. Educational Research and Evaluation . ISSN 1380-3611

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2019.1617991

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For whom does “what works” work? The political economy of evidence-based education
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Abstract

What role does scientific evidence play in educational practice? Supporters of evidence-based education (EBE) see it as a powerful way of improving the quality of public services which is readily applicable to the education sector. Academic scholarship, however, points out important limits to this applicability. I offer an account inspired by Tullock’s theory of bureaucracy that helps explain EBE’s influence despite these limits. Recent configurations of EBE are an imperfect solution to 2 imperatives where policymakers are at an informational disadvantage: (a) guiding professionals working in the field and (b) evaluating evidence from academic researchers. EBE, especially in the form of RCTs and systematic reviews, offers a way of filtering a complex range of research to produce a determinate result that is transparent to policymakers. However, this impression of research transparency is misleading as it omits theoretical background that is critical for successfully interpreting the results of particular interventions. This comes at a cost of relevance to the frontline professionals whom this research evidence is supposed to inform and help.

Keywords:Evidence-based education, randomised controlled trials, public choice, Tullock, bureaucracy, knowledge problem
Subjects:L Social studies > L430 Public Policy
L Social studies > L433 Education Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:36333
Deposited On:05 Jul 2019 14:52

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