New STEPP Center To Build an ‘Evidence-Based Ecosystem’

New STEPP Center To Build an ‘Evidence-Based Ecosystem’

HedgesLarry Hedges, winner of the 2018 Yidan Prize for Education Research

A human's average life span nearly doubled in just a century, rising from 38 years in 1890 to more than 70 years in 1990. 

This didn't happen because doctors became smarter, more observant, or more caring about their patients, noted Larry Hedges, one of the world’s pre-eminent educational researchers and statisticians. Rather, doctors stopped letting “magical thinking” and their personal experiences with a few patients rule their decisions. Instead, they turned toward scientific methods that established a process to systematically collect and analyze large sets of data.

This same challenge faces education, and other social science domains, said Hedges, Board of Trustees Professor of Statistics and Social Policy and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research. 

To boost policymaking in the education fields, Hedges and statistician Elizabeth Tipton have established the Statistics for Evidence-Based Policy and Practice (STEPP) Center at the Institute for Policy Research.

At STEPP, Hedges and Tipton want to address today’s pressing issues and develop the methodological tools to solve tomorrow’s problems across many fields. When Hedges received the $3.9 million Yidan Prize for Education Research in 2018, he saw the chance to ensure that work will continue at IPR for decades to come. 

The STEPP Center uses “a scientific approach to transform the social world and a practice-driven approach to advance science,” Hedges says. Its goal is to “improve lives through methodological innovation in research.”

Tipton says interdisciplinary cooperation will be key to STEPP’s overall contribution to the policy sphere.

“We want to hear from policymakers and practitioners about what their questions are, and then we want to think about whether social scientists have adequate methods to answer those questions,” Tipton said. “We are interested in improving the connections between research and practice.”

Read the entire story. 

By Institute for Policy Research
Last Modified: 11/11/19