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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education
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When Can You Trust the Experts?: How to Tell Good Science from Bad in Education

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  97 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Clear, easy principles to spot what's nonsense and what's reliableEach year, teachers, administrators, and parents face a barrage of new education software, games, workbooks, and professional development programs purporting to be "based on the latest research." While some of these products are rooted in solid science, the research behind many others is grossly exaggerated. ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by Jossey-Bass (first published June 20th 2012)
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Jul 08, 2012 Newengland rated it really liked it
When we think "science" and "education," we think of those teachers who taught us how to set the Periodic Table, break beakers, and light fires. What we don't think of are white-coat types holding a magnifying glass to education research. Still, in this day of "research-based" this and "best-practices" that, shouldn't we at least question what that means? Daniel T. Willingham certainly thinks so, and he wrote WHEN CAN YOU TRUST THE EXPERTS? HOW TO TELL GOOD SCIENCE FROM BAD IN EDUCATION in an at ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Christy rated it it was ok
Shelves: professional
Not as practical as I would have liked. The final three chapters are where Dr. Willingham tells how to evaluate programs and research. His steps are to strip it and flip it, trace it and analyze it before deciding if it's a good fit for you/your school.

Strip it of any emotional appeals, analogies, "experts", claims, etc. to determine what is being claimed.
Flip it to see the adverse outcomes (if reading scores improve in 30% of students, what about the other 70%?), your/your school's behavior.
Erika Daniels
Oct 29, 2013 Erika Daniels rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love Daniel Willingham's work. He is a cognitive scientist who focuses on education issues. I use his text "Why Don't Students Like School" in one of my undergrad classes b/c it is an engaging way of presenting research on how we learn. His most recent book has the same great writing style but is a little slower. It is still very good though and offers practical suggestions for reviewing research and deciding what claims to believe. I wish that policy makers, parents, and educators would apply ...more
Sep 14, 2015 Sandy rated it liked it
I would give this book 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed Willingham's writing style, and felt like I gained a better understanding of how the human mind operates. It was easy to read, and I could grasp his arguments without any difficulty. The number of real-life examples that were woven into the text are what made the reading pleasant and what made the facts he was conveying concrete. One example is when he writes in Part One about how Coke introduced a new recipe in 1985, which they called New Coke, ...more
Dec 11, 2015 Carrie rated it it was amazing
I thought this book gave explicit step-by-step instructions on how to evaluate claims of programs that are researched based by looking into the claims.
The structure was really helpful, chapters were organized by beginning with the easiest way looking into research claims made by (asking the consultant who is making the presentation for the citations), and moving towards more work-intensive, but thorough, methods of validating the research.
Some of the survey questions that were used as example
Sep 12, 2014 J. rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-nature, vine
This book is specifically aimed at educators (teachers and administrators, but parents, too) who might be considering "educational software, games, workbooks or other programs" which claim to be "based on the latest research." While some of these products may be based on actual research, many are not. But how can you tell? Willingham discusses the history of science and the role it plays in persuading us and appeals to our biases (especially the "confirmation bias" where we look for "evidence" t ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Darin rated it really liked it
As someone who was very used to reading scientific claims before entering the educational field, in a way I was depressed that this book needed to be written in the first place. But WIllingham's statement is accurate in that many teachers swallow advertising whole-hog and begin to implement widespread changes to curricula and class procedures that have been disproven or are logically nonsensical. In that sense, Willingham's text is a well-needed guide to theoretical claims.

The book consists of t
Peter Mcloughlin
Their are many urban myths in our culture. We hear a half-digested nugget out there in the ether or from a friend or colleague and take it in with out really looking into whether such a factoid is true or not. This happens a lot in education. Education is far from an exact science like physics. There are so many different factors that go into it and so many confounding cause and effect relationships that it is hard to sift the wheat from the chaff. For educators it is important to have tools th ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Ilib4kids rated it it was ok
370.72 WIL

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts;but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.
---Francis Bacon

Confirmation bias p46
"The first principle is you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool". --- Richard Feynman p102

"Them most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the m
Jeff Bush
Jun 18, 2013 Jeff Bush rated it liked it
Not bad. A decent introduction to scientific and statistical reasoning as applied to educational issues. Some great insights, though mostly the book is written for laymen never introduced to scientific and statistical reasoning. Highly recommended for those educators not familiar with these types of reasoning, only moderately recommended for those that are. It should be required reading for everyone involved in educational policy and administration. But overall the book is far short of Willingha ...more
Courtney Ostaff
Aug 24, 2012 Courtney Ostaff rated it liked it
I thought the first five chapters were good because it talked about the difficulty of doing science in the education field.

The rest was kind of an Idiot's Guide to Real Science. I'd skip the chapters, and read two other things:
1) a very short but good blog post:
2) a great book:
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone.

Much more entertaining (at least to me)
Lieke Van
Sep 15, 2012 Lieke Van rated it it was amazing
voor elke docent en consulter een must read. Ik lees het boek vooral ook als Listbegeleider aan de start van een nieuw List-traject zodat ik scherp blijf voor de eigen kracht/kennis/vaardigheden van de professionals binnen de school, immers dat is het uitgangspunt van een veranderingstraject.
Jul 10, 2013 Taylor rated it really liked it
A must for teachers and, especially, school/district leaders. I think even just reading the title and a synopsis could incite a revelation -- at least, a reminder -- that we shouldn't immediately buy into (and/or buy) every idea that sounds good or seems to come from a reliable source.
Jul 23, 2012 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: haveread
Great to read. Very relevant to what John and I often talk about. Excellent writing.
May 04, 2013 Zjjohnston rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone making educational decisions
Shelves: nonfiction
Not as interesting as his last book, but very informative and useful.
May 30, 2014 Rob added it
another great one from Willingham!
Mills College Library
370.72 W733 2012
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Daniel Willingham earned his B.A. from Duke University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. Until about 2000, his research focused solely on the brain basis of learning and memory. Today, all of his research concerns the application of cognitive psycholog ...more
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