12-05 Master class research synthesis including meta-analysis

Synthesising results from previous studies is a vital step in educational science. What have previous studies for a specific topic found as results? Do these findings converge or not? And can differences in findings across studies be explained by substantive issues or by features of the research design employed? This course addresses these issues and helps participants to develop knowledge and skills to do their own synthesis and to understand and evaluate syntheses written by others.

In the first block (April) we give a brief overview of the logic of the knowledge building process, starting from small scale qualitative studies, to correlational/observational studies, quasi-experiments, and randomized trials to synthesising results. The process of synthesising results will be illustrated by going through one of the topics that have found their way to the BEE: the best evidence encyclopedia (see: www.bestevidence.org). Special attention will be given to:
  • Formulating the question that is focal in the synthesis 
  • Finding studies that can be used in the synthesis, and setting inclusion/exclusion criteria 
  • Scoring studies on various characteristics 
  • How to perform a qualitative analysis of these studies 
  • How the do a meta-analysis (calculating effect sizes, constructing study weights, predicting differences between study outcomes, how to deal with publication bias, etc.) 

In the second block (beginning of May) the students work on their own best evidence synthesis, applying the framework and tools that were part of the first block. The students write a short draft review article using the synthesis results. During block 2 a practical – partially even hands on – session will be organized to guide students in doing the synthesis and using meta-analysis software where feasible.

In the third block (end of May) the reviews will be discussed and informative feedback will be provided on some illustrative cases.

The course requires a total investment of 100 hours, of which 20 hours will be attending meetings and doing hands-on analyses, 40 hours for studying texts (o.a. parts of Wilson & Lipsey's Practical Meta-analysis) and 40 hours for working on the assignment (doing a synthesis and writing about it).

We assume that all participants have a basic knowledge of statistics (correlation, regression, etc.).

The course will be coordinated by prof. Roel Bosker. Prof. Robert Slavin (author of the Best Evidence Encyclopedia) will give a short introductory distance lecture and provide informative feedback as guest-lecturer. Course-assistant is Anneke Timmermans, Msc.

Preparation for the master class includes studying literature, writing a paper, prepare and give a presentation and set up a commentary on papers and presentation by fellow participants. The meetings are a combination of lecturing, group work, discussion, and expert feedback.

Participants complete the course when they attend all meetings, actively contribute to the meetings, prepare the meetings according to the guidelines, and write a short review article in which they demonstrate a basic proficiency level.

About one month prior to the first meeting participants will receive a reader with literature and assignments. The assignments and programme will made be available on the ICO course site.

Dates and location
Meetings are planned between 10.30 and 16.30 hours. 

Block 1:  Thursday, April 26     - Ruppert 119 (NEW date)
Block 1:  Friday, April 27          - Unnik 103 (NEW date)
Block 2:  Friday, May 11           - Unnik 103
Block 3:  Friday, May 25           - Ruppert C

Route description Marinus Ruppert building
Route description Van Unnik Building

The deadline for registration for this course is March 24, 2012.

Before you register, please read our regulations for registration.
To register, please go to our registration form.
The maximum number of participants for this course is 16.