Education And Debate

Evaluating and researching the effectiveness of educational interventions

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7193.1267 (Published 08 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1267
  1. Linda Hutchinson, senior registrar in paediatrics (I.hutchinson@sghms.ac.uk)
  1. Department of Child Health, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE

    Members of the medical profession seem reluctant to value research into the effectiveness of educational interventions.1 One reason for this reluctance may be that there is a fundamental difficulty in addressing the questions that everyone wants answered: what works, in what context, with which groups, and at what cost? Unfortunately, there may not be simple answers to these questions. Defining true effectiveness, separating out the part played by the various components of an educational intervention, and clarifying the real cost:benefit ratio are as difficult in educational research as they are in the evaluation of a complex treatment performed on a sample group of people who each have different needs, circumstances, and personalities.

    Summary points

    • Health professionals are often reluctant to value research into the effectiveness of educational interventions

    • As in clinical research, the need for an evidence base in the practice of medical education is essential

    • Choosing a methodology to investigate a research question in educational research is no different from choosing one for any other type of research

    • Rigorously designed research into the effectiveness of education is needed to attract research funding, to provide generalisable results,and to elevate the profile of educational research within the medical profession

    Methodology

    Choosing a methodology to use to investigate a research question is no different in educational research than it is in any other type of research. Careful attention …

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