Building Evidence in Education (BE2) Guidance Notes
Strong evidence is of central importance in informing policy and programming decisions across all agencies and organisations working with education systems in developing countries. Robust research and evaluation generates the evidence required to form judgments, deliberate options and make intelligent decisions about how to spend scarce financial resources. It is therefore vital that the evidence generated is based on the best available research derived from both observation and experimentation. Investments in what works in education are urgently needed. Programs taken to scale should be based on rigorous evidence.
This series of Guidance Notes, prepared for the Building Evidence in Education (BE2) working group by its respective members, provides tools and guidance for generating better evidence and leveraging existing evidence more effectively and efficiently. These Guidance Notes have benefited from the advice of BE2 member organizations and are valuable tools for researchers and commissioners of research.
Generating Evidence in the Education Sector
This guide is the first in a series of publications on evaluations in education prepared for the Building Evidence in Education (BE2) working group. It provides an introduction to: the importance of sound research to inform education policy, the ways in which to design impact evaluations and issues to consider when generating them.
Qualitative Research in Education: Considerations For Best Practice
This guidance note presents examples of qualitative research on education, privileging those from low and middle-income countries when available; however, the content of the note is not exclusive to research in one sector or income level, and the main principles and processes outlined apply across research topics and locations. The research examples provided in this note meet the criteria for strong evidence and present evidence-based guidance based on qualitative research. These studies included at minimum: a solid explanation of the study purpose and the methodology used; a detailed account of the data collection process, including sampling and/or selection of participants; an explanation of the analysis process and how data were analyzed to arrive at findings; and findings that are supported by a detailed description of data.
Cost Measurement Guidance
The guidance note’s fundamental objective is to facilitate the adoption of robust cost measurement practices and for the results to improve the effectiveness of global investments in education development among funders and national governments. The closing section of the note presents recommended steps for instituting cost measurement practices in an international donor agency.
Harmonizing cost measurement across the entire global sector will increase its value by allowing for comparisons of cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of interventions funded by different donors. Similar to international standards for evaluation studies, adopting clear standards for cost studies would allow us to build and use the knowledge base and ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of international investments in education.
Assessing the Strength of Evidence in the Education Sector
This guide provides staff from donor agencies (and researchers and practioners who may be interested) with a thorough introduction to:
(a) the appraisal of the quality of individual studies and
(b) an assessment of the strength of bodies of evidence in education.
Specifically, the guide aims to help staff and other individuals to understand different types of research and assess its quality in order to determine what can and cannot be concluded from it. More generally, it aims to set out common standards for the international community on how to assess evidence. Agreement on the strength of evidence on particular issues in the education sector is critical in enabling us to speak with a unified voice when we provide policy advice to our government and national counterparts. Donors are typically interested in identifying the key research gaps and drawing out policy recommendations from a piece of research. While individual research studies may not focus on policy implications, donors are committed to ensuring policy is evidence-based and will thus seek clear recommendations emerging from syntheses of the evidence. DFID, for example, typically expects that these recommendations will be summarised and visually represented through evidence maps and