What does evidence-based mean?

In educational technology, particularly regarding tools like GraphoGame, the term “evidence-based” holds significant weight. But what exactly does it mean for an educational tool to be evidence-based, and why is it crucial in learning and development?

An evidence-based approach means a tool’s design, development, and implementation are informed by rigorous scientific research and empirical evidence. When we talk about evidence-based educational tools, we refer to tools shown through third-party research that effectively improve learning outcomes among learners.

What does it mean for an educational tool
to be supported by third-party research?

Essentially, the tool’s effectiveness has been validated through randomised controlled trials (RCT) conducted by university researchers who are not affiliated with the developers or creators of the tool. These studies typically involve RCTs or robust research methodologies to assess the tool’s impact on learning and its development.

According to International Certification of Evidence of Impact in Education (ICEIE) the evaluation of different aspects of evidence in EdTech involves considering five types of impact: Efficacy, Effectiveness, Equity, Ethics and Environment.

Efficacy refers to the ability of an educational tool to produce the desired or intended result under ideal and controlled circumstances. In the context of educational technology, this means how well the tool can improve learning outcomes when used in a perfectly controlled environment, such as during a pilot study where all variables except the tool itself are held constant.

Effectiveness is about how well the educational tool works in real-world settings. Unlike efficacy, which is tested in controlled environments, effectiveness considers the tool’s impact on learning outcomes in the typical, varied conditions of everyday educational settings. This includes factors like different teaching methods, classroom environments, and student backgrounds.

Equity in educational technology assessment is about ensuring the tool provides equal learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their socio-economic status, race, gender, or other factors. It examines whether the tool helps bridge the gap in educational outcomes between different groups or if it potentially exacerbates existing inequalities.

Ethics involves evaluating the tool’s adherence to ethical standards and principles, including privacy, consent, and data security, especially concerning student data. It also covers the tool’s content and approach, ensuring they are culturally sensitive, unbiased, and do not harm the learners in any way.

The environment aspect assesses the tool’s impact on the physical and digital learning environment. This includes its sustainability, accessibility, and the way it integrates with or disrupts existing educational practices and resources.

Why is third-party research important in determining
whether an educational tool is genuinely evidence-based?

Firstly, it helps to ensure objectivity and credibility. By involving independent researchers, we can mitigate bias and ensure reliable and trustworthy findings. This, in turn, provides educators, parents, and policymakers with confidence in the tool’s efficacy as a learning target.

Moreover, third-party research adds more scrutiny to the evaluation process. While developers may have a vested interest in demonstrating the effectiveness of their tools, independent researchers have no such bias. Their primary concern is assessing whether the game delivers on its promise to improve the intended outcome, like literacy skills, without conflicts of interest.

Additionally, third-party research contributes to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of educational tools in learning environments. By replicating studies across different contexts and populations, researchers can establish the generalisability and scalability of the tool’s impact, providing insights into its effectiveness across diverse settings.

In summary, when discussing the concept of “evidence-based” in educational tools, we refer to tools rigorously evaluated and validated through independent research conducted by third-party experts. This research provides educators and stakeholders with confidence in the tool’s efficacy and helps to advance our understanding of how technology can support literacy skills development in the digital age.

Read more: GraphoGame’s journey to excellence: A beacon of trust and efficacy in EdTech   

Screenshots of GraphoGame