Published: July 21, 2017
NCRPP online course

A new online course beginning in August aims to help district leaders, school leaders, and state education officials learn how to find, evaluate, and use research to inform the decisions they make.  

Hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in collaboration with the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice (NCRPP), the two-week course, "Using Research to Inform Decisions" runs from Aug. 7-20 and costs $149 per person. Register by midnight EST on Aug. 6 at 

Federal guidelines now ask school and district staff to use research evidence when making decisions about policies and programs. Despite these realities, finding and using solid research can be a difficult task.

This course will guide you in how to find and evaluate pertinent research, with a constant eye toward how such research can be used to inform various school- and district-level decisions. The workshop provides an overview of how practitioners use research and offers several simple tools to help you find the study you need. You will also learn strategies and structures that help foster an environment where research truly informs decision-making.
By completing the program, you will be able to:

  • Explore the nature of research use and current national patterns in research use
  • Learn how to find relevant research and read it accurately
  • Evaluate research design, and be able to judge the credibility of the research
  • Implement strategies for increasing the use of evidence within your own educational setting

The online instruction, discussions, and job-embedded practice should take five to seven hours over the duration of the program. Participants who complete all individual assessments and contribute to group discussions will receive a certificate indicating completion of five clock hours of instruction.

This online workshop is jointly led by Harvard's Heather Hill, CU Boulder's Bill Penuel, and other leaders in the field. Video lectures, readings, facilitated online discussions, and exploration exercises will help you engage with research and gain confidence in using evidence to make sound decisions. The modules will be led by NCRPP's co-principal investigators:

  • Heather Hill, Jerome T. Murphy Professor in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Bill Penuel, Professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Derek Briggs, Professor of Research and Evaluation Methodology at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Cynthia Coburn, Professor at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University

*Note: all content is self-paced, including group discussions. Facilitators will moderate discussion boards throughout the two-week program.