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School of Education: Meta-analysis in Education Research

About the Project

“Being simple to use and easily understood, meta-analysis will undoubtedly become popular... its use encourages a more scientific approach to the interpretation of quantitative results. It also offers some hope that we might eventually have a clearer idea of the conditions under which research findings can be generalised.

Fitz-Gibbon (1985) p 45

The initiative, which ended on 31st March 2011, provided training and development activities for researchers and research students in quantitiative synthesis across the research 'life-course'

The main aims and objectives of this initiative were as follows:

  • To build capacity in quantitative methods in social science research and in education research across the UK;
  • To develop understanding of the methodology of quantitative synthesis and the meta-analysis of intervention research findings in education;
  • To provide training regionally across the UK in both interpreting and in conducting quantitative synthesis of intervention research in education and the social sciences;
  • To offer three broad levels of training to support researchers at different stages in terms of:
    • understanding and interpretation of studies using quantitative synthesis or meta-analysis;
    • training in application of the methods and techniques involved;
    • development of expertise in understanding advanced issues and advanced techniques in the field.
  • To support research students in interpreting meta-analyses to extend and complement their training in reviewing empirical research literature.
  • To support the quality of research in education with experts using innovative techniques in other disciplines and from leading experts in education from other countries.

Training was offered regionally across the UK in Belfast, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, London and York primarily through face-to-face training.  A legacy of practical resources and workshop materials are available electronically. The aim was to complement and extend existing provision in systematic reviewing and controlled trials in education and in research synthesis more broadly.

A further aim was to develop understanding of the methodology and exploration of the warrant of its findings as this has an important role to play in building capacity in education research especially in the 'what works' and evidence-informed policy debates.