Research and Evaluation on Data-Based Decisions in Education
The purpose of this chapter is to identify the characteristics of good research that can be applied to educational decision making and the subsequent evaluations of those decisions. For years, research has been evaluation’s uppity brother, having strict rules and requirements for asking and answering empirical questions in educational settings; whereas evaluation could be as informal as asking, “Well, how did you like it?” In turn, researchers and evaluators might argue that data-based decision making is even less rigorous than evaluation. Although important educational decisions are being made using data-based evidence, the results of the decisions are inconclusive unless research principles are used in making the decision and empirical evaluations are conducted to see if the desired outcomes have been attained. As these educational decisions and evaluations turn increasingly to objective data and research methodologies, they begin looking more like their rigid brother. In this chapter, we argue that, given the right tools, data-based decision making can be as reliable and valid as good evaluation and research. In fact, using the right tools and approaches, data-based decision making is indeed an alternative form of evaluation and research.
Data-Based Decision Making and Educational Evaluation