Considering effect sizes within the policy context Helping Educators, Parents and Students Find Meaning in Research Results, Harris Cooper, Duke University

Publication Date: March 5, 2007

There are difficulties in communicating results of research to audiences lacking statistical expertise. Three important issues are: (a) how do we present the strengths and limitations of research designs to audiences lacking research expertise; (b) can researchers use adjectives that are inherently qualitative, such as “significant” or “promising”, relative such as “large” or “small” to describe the size of effects; and (c) are there metrics that permit audiences lacking statistical expertise to interpret research outcomes using yardsticks that have meaning to them?

Presenting results in the context in which the research was conducted is important. When talking about research designs with audiences, it is important to make distinctions among four different kinds of research design and to use terms that most educational audiences will understand. Useful terms are “purposely manipulated research” such as experiments and quasi-experiments, “modeling research,” and “simple association.”

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