WestEd Research Services

Technology has the potential to transform the classroom experience by offering real-time data on students’ learning, providing individualized feedback on student problem-solving steps, and strengthening teachers’ capability to shape lesson plans or monitor student progress. The idea of these products is not to replace teachers but to support them in their efforts to facilitate learning in the classroom.

However, while tech companies are brimming with great ideas, effective and useful products that can be easily adopted in real-world classrooms are less common. Flexible application to classroom formats remains a persistent bottleneck in the success of tech tools. Teachers and students can’t use what they can’t figure out and they don’t have time to use what isn’t relevant or intuitive. Moreover, classrooms, teachers, and students vary, and products need to be responsive to this variability if they are to impact a range of real-world situations. Great ideas can be stifled by a failure to understand the classroom context.

This is where EdTech@WestEd comes in.

WestEd is supporting EdTech startup efforts by using our research and development expertise to help develop practical, high-quality products. WestEd provides startup partners with the learning science, content, and classroom practice expertise they need to transform ideas into effective, research-based education improvement tools. These are just a sample of the research studies and services that WestEd provides to EdTech companies. WestEd will work with you to customize these services to meet your needs and achieve your research goals.

Literature Review

Focus Group

User Surveys and Interviews

Subject Matter Expert Reviews

Enhanced Usability

Implementation Study

White Paper or Scholarly Article

Classroom Feasibility Study

Quasi-Experimental Design Study

Needs Assessment

Secondary Data Analysis

Randomized Controlled Trial

A Framework for Research

WestEd offers research services for EdTech products at any stage of development. Our Research Continuum shows how research studies can build to establish an evidence base, and our Logic Model Framework shows how a logic model can be used to develop a research plan.

WestEd’s approach to this research involves developing a working model of how a specific product achieves its intended outcome (Kao, Matlen, Tiu, & Li, 2018). For example, what features of a mathematical computer app support which aspects of mathematical learning? This structured description forces companies to make explicit assumptions about the problem to be solved, their targeted users, their product features, and their implementation — as well as how they all connect — leading to testable hypotheses that can then be rigorously evaluated.

Research Continuum

Formative to summative

Formative to Summative

Arrow graphic illustrating the research continuum moving from formative actionable feedback on the left to summative evidence of outcomes on the right. Usability, feasibility, pre-post, correlational, quasi-experimental, and randomized control are compartments on the arrow displayed from left to right in a blue to green gradient.

Logic Model

Logic Model and corresponding Research Studies

Logic Model

Chart graphic of the logic model with columns labeled inputs, activities, outputs, short-term outcomes, and long-term outcomes ordered from left to right. The first row is labeled logic model components and second row is labeled corresponding research studies. The input assumptions about the product's users and functionality corresponds to needs assessments, focus groups, and expert reviews. The activity user interaction with the product corresponds to usability and feasibility tests. The output immediately observable effects of using the product as attended corresponds to implementation studies. The outcomes short-term learning and behavior changes that occur after using product and long-term impact on learning and behaviors corresponds with quasi-experimental studies and randomized control trials.

Kao, Y., Matlen, B.J., Tiu, M., & Li, L. (2017). Logic models as a framework for iterative user research in educational technology: Illustrative cases. In R.D. Roscoe, S.D. Craig, & S.C. Douglas (Eds.), End-User Considerations in Educational Technology Design. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.