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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

‘Super Synthesising’ the evidence of what works best in education for development

This blog post by David Coleman, Senior Education Advisor at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, gives a good synopsis of research synthesis looking at the evidence of ‘what works in education’. 

I recently took part in a panel discussion titled ‘Achieving impact through research in international development settings’, held as part of the Building Evidence in Education (or BE2) annual meetings. The panel explored how closer links between the demand for evidence by policymakers and its supply by researchers could be forged. Discussions included the types of impact policymakers are seeking from education research and, in turn, the challenges that researchers face in achieving such impact. 

It was a good opportunity to preview a document we at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), together with our colleagues at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and Cardno have been developing. Dubbed a ‘Super Synthesis’ of the evidence, our ambition has been to boil down the findings from robust syntheses of the ‘what works in education’ literature, and then to synthesise their collective findings into a short, easy-to-use document.

To our relief, the feedback during the panel session and in the reception afterwards was positive, even enthusiastic. Thus reassured, we redoubled our efforts and now, our Super Synthesis is done. It is an avowedly practitioner tool, consistent with the intent of the Impact Initiative: to increase the uptake and impact of research findings, through the development of a compelling and – we hope – user-friendly tool.

We had three starting points. First, there are things that every policy maker and development partner working in the field of education want to know: what works? What are the best ways to get kids into school, keep them there, and learn? Which options have the best evidence of their effectiveness? And what are the costs?

Read the full blog by David Coleman here