As budgets get increasingly tighter, educators are seeking reassurance that the educational products and services they choose to invest in will deliver maximum impact on teaching and learning. Rather than “Show me the money”, educators are increasingly asking “Show me the evidence!”. Over the last few years, we have seen a real increase in the demand for evidence about the impact of our educational products and services from across the world.
At Oxford University Press (OUP), we wanted to understand just how important this evidence of impact is when making purchasing decisions. With this in mind, we undertook some market research via OUP’s UK and International Research Forum to better understand what our customers think. Here are our top three key takeaways…
Evidence of impact is even more important than we thought
In our poll, almost 90% of the 177 participants said that having evidence of impact was either important or very important when making a purchasing decision.
“Evidence is extremely important as it can be a ‘make or break’ decision. If a product has no evidence, then I am unlikely to spend much time looking at it.”
Some participants said that they undertake their own evaluations or reviews on products they have purchased. In our survey, which attracted 378 respondents, this was the case for 39% of UK teachers and 51% of international teachers. Some of the methods included monitoring and evaluating student progress and listening to the opinions of students and staff about their experience of using the product.
Credibility and trust are also important
When polled, almost 50% of the 165 participants said that they find word of mouth to be the most useful form of evidence in helping them to decide which educational resources to purchase. This is unsurprising given that we now live in a culture that is used to asking for recommendations, verbally and virtually and is indicative of how receiving a recommendation from someone you trust, in a similar setting, really adds value when making a purchasing decision.
“Cost is always going to be the most important factor, especially at the moment. However, evidence that shows the positive impact on pupils and outcome is taken into consideration when weighing up the costs. Evidence not just from publishers but from other schools – ones in our area too – is necessary”
For that reason, demos and trials also featured highly in the polls, most likely due to the fact that they can provide a way of testing if a product will work in your own setting.
Our survey showed that efficacy or impact studies are considered to be the most credible form of evidence by both UK (52%) and International (57%) teachers. Of course, this is dependent on teachers’ overall perceptions about the rigour and quality of the research and the extent to which the research environment is similar to their own setting.
Evidence is needed at all levels
Currently it seems that most teachers (UK 77%/International 78%) are seeking evidence of impact for themselves. In addition, 35% of UK teachers and 51% of International teachers reported that their Senior Management are asking for evidence, which reflects just how integral evidence of impact has become within school’s approval processes.
“[…] at a time when budgets are tight, we have to convince SLT of the need to purchase. Without evidence, it’s impossible to do successfully.”
As budgets continue to get tighter, the need for evidence of impact will become even more prevalent. As one customer puts it:
“The impact of evidence is very paramount in decision making in order to justify the reasons for purchases and this helps to make sure the products will have a meaningful impact in the learning process of the students.”
Oxford Impact is OUP’s approach to evaluating the impact of our educational products and services. At the heart of Oxford Impact is the Oxford Impact Framework: a rigorous process for evaluating impact developed with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), and supported by the Department of Education, University of Oxford.
To find out more visit www.oup.com/oxfordimpact