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Why RCTs are effective for education research

Some find randomised controlled trials unreliable, flawed and unethical – but they are often best way to find out what works in classrooms, says Steve Higgins


Some believe the complexity of education makes reliable results from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) impossible. Some believe you cannot truly get comparable groups, rendering such an approach flawed. Some simply believe the method is unethical. But RCTs are necessary in education. Without them, we would miss out on an important part of the puzzle in our hunt to find out what might work in the classroom.

And the accusations often levelled at RCTs – like those above – need more careful consideration, not blind acceptance: they are easy criticisms to make but harder to prove.

So, as the ...

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