Professor Steve Higgins

Is meta-analysis the best we can do?

By Professor Steve Higgins

Is meta-analysis in its current state trustworthy enough to be a basis for practitioner decisions?

It all depends on what kind of decisions. Evidence should inform educational decision-making, but should not replace professional judgement. It provides an indication of the pattern of effects which has occurred at other times, in other places and with different teachers and pupils. It can’t determine what should be done in a specific instance, but nor should it be ignored.

I think of it as indicating good bets. Where an approach has cumulative evidence of success it is likely to be a good bet. The larger the typical effect the more likely it is to be beneficial across a range of contexts.