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Consumer's Guide to Research on STEM Education


"Periodically the field summarizes what is known in particular areas, in some cases supplementing the findings from empirical research with the insights of experts in the area. Typically involving people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives in the development process, these summaries not only document the state of knowledge at a given juncture, but also provide guidance to practitioners and policymakers based on what is currently known.1

But comprehensive efforts of this sort are time consuming and expensive, and there are many areas of interest to STEM educators where the available knowledge has not been compiled in a practitioner-friendly form. Rather, a mathematics/science supervisor, teacher, or other educator may find out about studies in presentations at professional association meetings, newsletters, or journals and want to learn more. This guide is intended to help consumers of research assess the quality and implications of both individual studies of interventions and research syntheses.2

This paper addresses two key questions that should guide practitioners in reviewing research:
1. How much should I trust the findings?
2. What are the implications, if any, for my context?"