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charlie, computer cat

December 2017

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candle trail

Went to a meeting today about a science project our school has signed up to only to discover that it's actually a randomized control trial! Philosophically, I am very pro RCTs so yay, but it did mean that a lot of the meeting was about explaining RCTs, how they work and why they're important, which I already know. Still, I got to ask at the end whether they would publish negative results if that was the outcome and got the (surprised but pleased) response that they would be so we can totally sign up for it, which is quite cool. I wonder if there is a trial registry for education trials...

Also, do I still know any STEM ambassadors? Apparently we'll be linked with one for some of the work in the project and those aren't randomly assigned so I can bag people I know!

Oh, also, essay returned, 82/100 so not distinction yet, but a good start. Some useful comments which I mostly thought were fair enough, so that's very positive as well.

Comments

Can't say I am a fan of the RCT myself. They have their place but let me suggest a thought experiment.
We think bridges built built with conventional engineering theories are good but we might have missed something so we build a 100 with normal engineering analysis and 100 with some other theory. We don't tell either the builders or the users which are which and then we see which fall down.
My view is that science progresses better by making more and more detailed models of the world so you can predict how changing one parameter affects the system and then making observations if this is true. In drug development you can take a million compounds and sift them for usefulness using testing and RCT or you can model how each affects disease in the environment of the body and then observe how it works in real bodies with real diseases. The latter method is harder work but you understand more at the end of it.

Will your students learn more from being in a randomised trial or from making observations based on theory and then intervening to see if the observed system changes as the model predicts?