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Advice: Increasing the field’s understanding of what is working in blended learning

Contributing to the evidence base on the aspects of blended learning implementation, including competency- or mastery-based progression, that are central to effectiveness

Context

Some evidence exists to support personalizing learning and learning for mastery. However, more needs to be done to better understand what works, for whom, and under what conditions when combining personalization, data use, and mastery-based progression to blend learning. More evidence is especially needed about implementing competency- or mastery-based progression (sometimes called learning progressions). Research can and should take the form of validation experiments and implementation studies.

Both controlled (efficacy) and “real world” (effectiveness) studies must take place in online or in-person classroom environments. Controlled studies may focus on holding variables like grade level, content area, even educator, constant, but even efficacy cannot be studied outside of a classroom.

Educators, decision-makers, researchers, and funders all have a role to play in uncovering this evidence about what specifically enables success in controlled environments as well as in real-world environments.

All stakeholders need to be patient: generating rigorous evidence takes time.

Teacher Does

  • Participates in measurement whenever the opportunity arises, for example:
    • formal requests to take part in research studies,
    • pilots that their school system is running, or
    • system-provided supports with measurement for instructional strategies that the educator wants to try out.

Leader/Administrator/Decision-maker Does

  • Develops a coherent strategy around measurement aligned with their strategic objectives.
  • Opens up schools and classrooms to measurement whenever they can (e.g., accepting formal requests to take part in research studies, piloting initiatives that they're interested in trying out, or supporting requests for help measuring instructional strategies that educators are piloting.)

Researcher Does

  • Focuses studies on specific identified gaps in sector’s evidence base.
  • Pushes for progressively greater clarity about the exact nature of the interventions they are studying through rich descriptions and explicit definitions of both the interventions, and the comparison conditions they are measuring.
  • Builds relationships with practitioners at all levels within a school system to ensure their studies are aligned with strategic objectives.

Funder Does

  • Provides direct funding to studies of specific identified gaps in sector’s evidence base.
  • Incentivizes progressively greater clarity about the exact nature of the interventions they are studying through rich descriptions and explicit definitions of both the interventions, and the comparison conditions they are measuring.

Equity Focus

When rigorous evidence about what works and what instructional strategies are driving those successes is not investigated, or when it is investigated but knowledge is not shared, those who stand to lose the most are our traditionally underserved students. In order to ensure that all students receive an outstanding education, enabling them to reach their potential, we must know how to measure, scaffold, guide and effectively support the learning of each individual student, in partnership with these students.