From Clinical Trial to Education: Methodologies, Assumptions, and Directions


  • Ann Yinqi Zhang Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, Pennsylvania State University



In the field of education, emphasis on evidence-based practice, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), causal inference, and process evaluation can all find their roots back in clinical trials and medical research. This response paper surveys contemporary literature in psychometrics, process evaluation, and RCTs aiming to evaluate the feasibility and limitations of RCTs as a methodology in education and provide future directions. Based on the systematic literature review, the author argues: (1) A lack of significant positive treatment effect does not indicate that RCTs are not worth the investment. (2) A careful evaluation of the intervention itself, implementation process, and measurement instrument is recommended for RCTs. (3) There is the need to reframe some causal inference assumptions in an education setting. The paper also provides several examples of reframing assumptions and comments on the caveats. In conclusion, the author foresees a promising future for RCTs in education with the appropriate reframing of assumptions, process evaluation and replication, and recognition of the validity of parallel methodologies.


Randomized Control Trials, Education, Causal Inference


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How to Cite

A. Y. Zhang, “From Clinical Trial to Education: Methodologies, Assumptions, and Directions”, Int. J. Methodol., vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 2–10, Mar. 2022.