Evidence for an inquiry-based science program… no, wait 

Filling the pail

I am growing increasingly concerned about the way that some randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are being used to give legitimacy to otherwise weak ideas.

I am in favour of conducting RCTs because they have the greatest potential to tease out whether one thing causes another. But this doesn’t mean that we must dismiss all other kinds of evidence. Sometimes RCTs are difficult to conduct or are unethical. We should not forget that we can potentially draw inferences from correlations provided we are suitably cautious. Basic cognitive science can also inform our theory of how different approaches might work.

Furthermore, some RCTs can be pretty badly designed or analysed. The new RCT factories such as the Education Endowment Foundation in England and I3 in the U.S. tend to find positive effects that don’t always stand up to closer scrutiny.

This became apparent in an article about inquiry-based science that Steven Cooke (@SteveTeachPhys)…

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