Professor Larry Hedges

Chairman of the Department of Statistics, Northwestern University


Education statistics and evaluation; International comparative education; Education policy and system; Equality in education



Promoting evidence-based decision-making through rigorous research design

With so many education studies around (often coming to contradictory conclusions), it can be difficult for policymakers to act on the evidence in front of them. Professor Larry Hedges’ methods give them the tools to sort through these studies and understand what works.


More generally, Larry’s goal is to help transform the loose-knit study of education into a more rigorous science—one that accumulates, interprets, and applies knowledge through testing. Using that approach, he’s known for shedding new light on subjects like class size and school funding.


Larry sees three ways to strengthen educational research: creating rigorous methods for research; training researchers; and improving how findings are shared. He compares this to the movement for evidence-based medicine—when double-blind, randomized control trials and systematic reviews were established.


Larry supports Donald Campbell’s vision of an ‘experimenting society’. Rather than rolling out the thing that’s going to change the world at once, test programs in a few places, see if they work and under what conditions, make improvements, and learn how to do these things we’ve never done before. It’s a philosophy and an influential body of work that recently won him the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education.


Much of Larry’s work is focused on building networks between all kinds of education experts, including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. As such, he joined fellow luminary Carol S. Dweck’s workshops for the OECD, focusing on growth mindset.

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