What are impact and efficacy studies?

Impact and efficacy research builds evidence of outcomes for educational interventions. They’re thought of as summative studies, aimed at evaluating effectiveness. This research differs from more formative feedback, like usability and feasibility studies, that investigate user perceptions and attitudes and how well interventions work in learning environments. Impact and efficacy research can range from pre- and post-test studies investigating whether an intervention has a positive impact to larger, more rigorous randomized control trials that can build strong evidence of efficacy.

While it can be tempting to want to jump to the end of the research scale, it’s best to build evidence over time. This way, initial shorter and cheaper studies can inform design and build to longer, costlier studies that have a higher chance of showing positive results.

The research continuum

Formative to summativeFor more information about the types of research, see this article by NewSchools, informed by WestEd research.

Interested in impact or efficacy studies?