The Applied Research Methods and Statistics Lab at PSI

emily tanner smith

Dr. Tanner-Smith’s Applied Research Methods and Statistics Lab uses meta-analysis to synthesize research findings on the effectiveness of programs aimed at promoting youth’s academic, behavioral, and mental health outcomes. This includes research focused on the development of research synthesis methods and the application of those methods toward informing evidence-based policy and practice decisions.

One of her current projects, in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research, supports the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), an evidence repository that uses research synthesis to identify “what works” in education. The WWC offers an online repository (https://whatworks.ed.gov) where teachers, administrators, and policymakers can easily locate information about education program effects, which can then be used to inform evidence-based decisions.

As part of this project, Dr. Tanner-Smith and PSI postdoctoral scholar Dr. Danny Swan regularly deliver trainings on behalf of the
WWC to teach the public about the WWC’s design standards for reviewing research evidence.

Two days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Drs. Tanner-Smith and Swan were on their way to deliver an in-person WWC training in Washington, DC. In less than 24 hours, they pivoted to a synchronous, web-based, remote training. That remote training was a success, and in fact, many trainees preferred the remote delivery method.

Since then, Drs. Tanner-Smith and Swan taught another remote WWC training in June and will be offering a third remote training in December. Quick adaptation paired with technology has helped Dr. Tanner-Smith’s team continue their important work supporting the WWC during the COVID-19 pandemic.