What works best for teachers and students in science education interventions? Statistics can provide some insight—but only if interpreted in context. For instance, the way a study is conducted may impact the outcome, independent of the actual effectiveness of the intervention.
To help researchers understand study results in context, BSCS Science Learning reviewed 96 studies of the efficacy of science instruction while taking into account the various factors contributing to the outcomes. This work resulted in published findings and an online tool for researchers to use when planning or evaluating studies of science education interventions.
The online tool, POWER calculator, uses data from the studies BSCS reviewed to estimate the likely effect size for a new study based on its characteristics, such as the nature of the study, the scientific discipline, student grade level, and other key variables.
When planning a study, researchers can use the POWER calculator to determine how many subjects will be required to obtain a statistically significant result, giving researchers and funders increased confidence that they will obtain such a result without spending money and time unnecessarily on participants that are not needed. Once a study is completed, the tool enables users to interpret the size of their study’s effect in the context of similar studies.
BSCS is continuing its research with a meta-analysis of 161 science education studies of teacher outcomes. New findings and a teacher-specific calculator will be made available soon.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. (1118555) and (1544236). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
The PI for Award #1118555 is Sue Kowalski, BSCS Science Learning. The PI for Award #1544236 is Jessica Spybrook, Western Michigan University.