This page has two focus questions:
  1. What do we know about what constitutes good educational research practice?
  2. What does this research say about what constitutes effective teaching practice in education in general, and special education in particular?

Good* Education Research Practice
* What is the difference between good and best and advanced practice? It could be argued that nothing is ever best, because that implies that we have achieved the ultimate state and no further improvement is required. Good practice or advanced practice indicates with are using the most appropriate and effective tools available to us at this point in time, tools that need to be continually and scientifically questioned and examined for their effectiveness. Best is our aim but in fact we should never get there.

The current edition of The Australasian Journal of Special Education has a focus on a scientific approach to special education.

Wheldall, K. (2008). A Scientific Approach to Special Education. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 1-4.
Carter, M. (2008). Why Can't a Teacher Be More Like a Scientist? Science, Pseudoscience and the Art of Teaching. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 5-21.
McArthur, G. (2008). Does What Works Clearinghouse Work? A Brief Review of Fast ForWord®. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 101-107.

Council for Exceptional Children - Division for Research (CEC-DR)
The CEC Division for Research (CEC-DR) is a division of The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) devoted to the advancement of research related to the education of individuals with disabilities and/or who are gifted. The goals of CEC-DR include the promotion of equal partnership with practitioners in designing, conducting and interpreting research in special education.

Research Practice

Abstract: This article sets the context for the developrhent of research quality indicators and guidelines for evidence of effective practices provided by different methodologies. The current conceptualization of scientific research in education and the complexity of conducting research in special education settings underlie the development of quality indicators. Programs of research in special education may be viewed as occurring in stages: moving fiom initial descriptive research, to experimental causal research, to finally research that examines the processes that might affect widescale adoption and use of a practice. At each stage, different research questions are relevant, and different research methodologies to address the research questions are needed

  • Odom, S. L., Brantlinger, E., Gersten, R., Horner, R. D., Thompson, B., & Harris, K. (2004). Quality indicators for research in special education and guidelines for evidence-based practices: Executive summary. Newsletter of the Division for Research: Council for Exceptional Children.

Except: To provide high quality education for students with disabilities, the field of special education must have a foundation of high quality research. Such research provides evidence that practices are effective. High quality research should help teachers, supervisors, parents, policymakers, and researchers “separate the wheat from the chaff,” that is, to separate teaching practices that have a strong record of effectiveness from those practices that have little or no evidence. High quality special education research should also provide an understanding of factors in school systems, classrooms, and society that influence how well “evidence-based” practices work in the real world. It should allow us to describe the contexts in which teaching and learning occur, as well as the situations in which individuals live, work, and apply the skills they have learned. In a phrase, special education research should contribute to the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

  • Brantlinger, E., Jimenez, R., Klingner, J., Pugach, M., & Richardson, V. (2005). Qualitative studies in special education. Exceptional Children, 71(2), 195(113).

Abstract: An overview of the many types of studies that fall into the qualitative design genre is provided. Strategies that qualitative researchers use to establish the authors' studies as credible and trustworthy are listed and defined. So that readers will recognize the important contribution qualitative studies have made in the field of special education, a range of well-known and lesser known examples of qualitative research are reviewed. The quality indicators that are important in conducting and evaluating qualitative research are identified. Finally, as an example of the evidence that can be produced using qualitative methods, the authors provide a summary of how 3 studies have provided important information that can be used to inform policy and practice.

Historically, the use of technology in special education has been advanced on the basis of marketplace innovations and federal policy initiatives rather than on a compelling research base. This article presents a set of quality indicators that will guide efforts to enhance that base. Thirty quality indicators, organized into eight areas (conceptualization of the research study, full disclosure, sample selection, description of participants, implementation of the intervention, outcome measures, data analysis, and publication and dissemination), are briefly described and three variations of each (unacceptable, essential, and desirable) are highlighted. Particular attention is paid to the distinct methodological design issues associated with technology research and development. Recommendations are made for the use of these quality indicators to enhance the evidence base for the field.

Effective Teaching Practice
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. The WWC aims to promote informed education decision making through a set of easily accessible databases and user-friendly reports that provide education consumers with high-quality reviews of the effectiveness of replicable educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies) that intend to improve student outcomes.

Practice Alerts
The Alerts series is a joint initiative sponsored by two divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children-the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) and the Division for Research (DR). Alerts provide timely and informed judgments regarding professional practices in the field. Based on the adequacy of the current knowledge base and practice experience, each Alert makes a recommendation of “Go For It” (practices for which there is solid research evidence of effectiveness), or “Use Caution” (practices for which the research evidence is incomplete, mixed, or negative).
Go to for current practice alerts.
To find out about the Alert series go to

Hempenstall, K. (2008). Corrective Reading: An Evidence-Based Remedial Reading Intervention. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 23-54.

Abstract: This article first examines recent theoretical and empirical research on reading development and instruction in English-speaking countries. Then, a study is described that examines the effects of a synthetic phonics-emphasis Direct Instruction remedial reading program on the phonological processes of students, with teacher-identified serious reading problems, attending several Melbourne suburban schools. The 206 students (150 males and 56 females, mean age 9.7 years) were pre-tested on a battery of phonological tests, and assigned to the treatment condition or to a wait-list comparison group. The 134 students in the intervention group received the 65 lessons (in groups of up to 10) of the Corrective Reading: Decoding program from reading teachers at their schools. When compared with a similar cohort of 72 wait-list students from the same schools, the students made statistically significant and educationally large gains in the phonologically-related processes of word attack, phonemic awareness, and spelling, and statistically significant and moderately large gains in phonological recoding in lexical access, and phonological recoding in working memory. The study contributes to an understanding of the relationship between phonological processes and reading, and to an approach to efficiently assisting students whose underdeveloped decoding places their educational progress at risk.