Preparing so that Results will Drive Change
An RCT is only going to drive change if decision-makers are willing to understand and apply the findings. However, when evidence, such as that generated from an RCT, does not align with what people expect or hope for, they sometimes reject that evidence. Part of implementing a high quality RCT is laying the groundwork to minimize the likelihood of the results being rejected by key decision makers.
People sometimes reject research findings because they think the research has not adequately captured the desired outcomes. Perhaps an RCT was designed to measure the impact of an intervention on student test scores, yet supporters of the intervention placed more value on student confidence. In this case, even though the RCT findings showed that the intervention did not significantly improve test scores, people may still support the intervention.
Even when all the desired outcomes are taken into account, if the research results still don’t reflect the decision makers’ desires, the measurement methods may not be perceived as valid. For example, a survey that showed no change in student attitudes may be questioned as to whether it accurately captured those attitudes.
Establishing and maintaining good stakeholder communication helps support the credibility of the research findings. This includes working with stakeholders to find out what they view as important benefits of new interventions and addressing questions and concerns about the validity of measurement methods. In this way, people will be more likely to believe in, accept, and act on the information provided by an RCT.
For more information about supporting evidence-based decision making and about other aspects of implementing a high quality RCT, visit the Evaluating What Works website.