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Evidence-based policy

June 25, 2009

I’m all for basing social policy on good social science evidence. But as Dean Dad writes:

We have anecdotal evidence that suggests that students who actually take math for all four years of high school do better in math here than those who don’t. We also have anecdotal evidence that bears crap in the woods. Why the hell do the high schools only require two years of math?

I say we can bypass the regression analysis on this one.

2 Comments
  1. Cedar permalink
    June 27, 2009 7:52 pm

    I love Dean Dad. Always worth reading. I like his 10 rules for commencement speeches:
    1. Be brief
    2. See number 1

    I’m surprised there are not more comments on some of his posts.

    Education policy is remarkably independent from psychology research.

    I haven’t read Dan Willingham’s book yet, but I am looking forward to seeing the ways in which psychology research could inform at least that bit of policy.

  2. Sanjay Srivastava permalink
    June 28, 2009 3:11 pm

    Hal Pashler is another cognitive psychologist who is pushing for more translational work in education policy — but there aren’t enough folks doing that. I agree that it’s surprising how little psych research is applied in education. As a field we’ve historically been so heavily oriented toward mental health. Clinical psychology is considered a prestigious subfield, so I think there is an implicit assumption that you can do research on psychopathology and still be a “real” scientist. By contrast, topics like education, organizational behavior, etc. are often considered “just” applied topics, and to whatever extent people specialize in those areas, you often have to go outside of traditional psych departments to find them. I’m glad people like Willingham and Pashler are breaking down that wall.

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