What’s been most popular in Best Evidence in Brief?

Posted on 29 March 2018

Jonathan Haslam, Director, IEE

Over Christmas we published our favourite Best Evidence in Brief studies from 2017. But what have our subscribers found most interesting?

The Best Evidence in Brief now receives nearly three times as many visitors each month as it did at the start of the year. The most popular stories on the site in 2017 were:

  1. Single-sex schools make little difference in Korea

To be honest, I think people visiting this story were probably looking for something slightly different. What they found was a research study showing that there was very little impact of single-sex schools on the achievement of students.

  1. Children with reading difficulties may have undiagnosed hearing problems

A small-scale study which highlighted the fact that many children with reading difficulties also have hearing problems, and these problems often go undiagnosed.

  1. Ignoring the evidence on ability grouping

Why do policy makers, parents, and schools ignore the evidence on ability grouping? This study offered some ideas, and suggested ways of counteracting them.

  1. What does the evidence say about technology use?

According to this study, it is positive about computer-assisted learning (if it’s personalised) particularly in maths, and behavioural intervention software. For other uses, the evidence is equivocal or limited.

  1. Implication of subject choice on university entry

If you want to go to university is it better to choose some (particularly EBacc) subjects rather than others? Not really, this report found. Better to do well in the subjects you choose.

  1. Evaluation of Challenge the Gap

An evaluation of the Challenge the Gap programme for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) found no evidence that the programme increased average achievement for either primary or secondary pupils overall.

  1. What difference does it make?

This study looked at the impact of different primary years on four different learning outcomes.

  1. Screen time or story time?

Young children who were read electronic books paid more attention and produced more content-related comments during reading than those who were read printed books.

  1. Unpacking the evidence on cognitive load theory

Considers the implication of cognitive load theory for teaching practice and describes some recommendations that are directly transferable to the classroom.

  1. Do teacher observations make any difference to pupil performance?

An EEF evaluation which found that introducing more frequent and structured lesson observations made no difference to pupils’ GCSE maths and English results.


All the studies published in Best Evidence in Brief are also tagged with keywords, so that you can quickly find recent studies on a particular topic. So what were the most popular topics last year?

  1. Ability grouping
  2. Teaching strategies
  3. Maths
  4. The What Works Clearinghouse
  5. The achievement gap


Best Evidence in Brief is a fortnightly e-newsletter produced by the IEE and the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. You can sign up to receive the Best Evidence in Brief email direct to your inbox every fortnight here.

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