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Research Papers and Reports

McREL studies education research to find evidence-based best practices for effective teaching, learning, leading, systemic change, and school improvement. We share insights from our analyses in the free publications you’ll find on this page.

  • Our white papers present a combination of research-based insights, thought leadership, and suggestions for how to adapt and apply these new ideas to classrooms, schools, districts, and other education systems.
  • Our briefs are short explorations of a specific topic, presenting a quick summary of research along with a few ideas educators can use right away in their schools.
  • Our research and evaluation reports describe studies we’ve done for schools, districts, and education companies, shared here with our clients’ permission so that other educators can deepen their understanding of how the initiative or product impacts teaching and learning.

To explore these ideas more deeply and build your team’s professional capacities, contact us for a conversation about professional learning or consulting with the publication’s authors.

Shifting Learning Objectives Into Personalized Student Goals

Research on effective teaching and learning shows that when students set and monitor their own learning goals, achievement gaps are narrowed. Teacher-written objectives are important for instructional clarity, but when students convert objectives into personal learning goals, it creates relevance and motivation to learn. This 4-page brief from our Expert Teaching Series outlines how to help students personalize learning goals.

Shifting From Planning for Teaching to Planning for Learning

This 4-page brief from our Expert Teaching Series outlines the importance of creating unit and lesson plans that are focused on what students need to experience in order to become interested in learning, make sense of their learning, and extend and apply their learning. The brief offers suggested steps for teachers and school leaders who want to make this change in their practice.

Ed-tech Evaluation: Providing Evidence of Product Success

This brief for ed-tech product developers explains why federal ESSA requirements are causing schools to ask about a product’s evidence of success before they commit to using it. The paper outlines how to responsibly conduct an evaluation of your product and gives key considerations and best practices for ensuring insightful and actionable results.