Education Endowment Foundation discovers small placebo effect (but not for maths)

Greg Ashman takes an Extreme Close-Up look at EEF’s report on “dialogic” teaching and its implications.

Filling the pail

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) have released a report into a three-year randomised controlled trial. Schools were allocated to a control or intervention group and the intervention teachers were provided with the a mentor, time off timetable for training, a number of books to read (I’m sure the authors were pleased about this) and, crucially, a video camera and microphone to record and then review their lessons. The control group received none of these things and carried on as usual.

The result showed that, on a standardised assessment, the intervention group slightly outperformed the control in English (mean of 13.76 vs 13.16, p=0.05, d=0.15) and science (mean of 26.67 vs 26.29, p=0.04, d=0.12) but not in maths where the result was not statistically significant. Note that the English and Science effect sizes were very small.

The most likely explanation for these results is an expectation effect such as the placebo…

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