Evidence and Decision Making in Professions

Authored by: Theodore J. Kowalski

Handbook of Data-Based Decision Making in Education

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  April  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415965033
eBook ISBN: 9780203888803
Adobe ISBN: 9781135890841


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Professional practitioners are expected to rely on scientific evidence to make crucial decisions affecting their clients or patients. This seemingly innocuous benchmark, however, has generated considerable controversy, especially regarding the extent to which intuition, emotion, politics, and philosophy should influence these choices. Traditionally, science (or more precisely, scientific research) has served the purpose of protecting “practitioners from implementing useless programs” (Mayer, 2003, p. 361). Physicians, for example, have been and still are required to pass comprehensive examinations on the medical profession’s scientific knowledge base as a licensing prerequisite. Today, however, the accumulation of massive amounts of data and the development of technology that allows databases to be accessed easily and quickly have spawned an accountability movement that is sweeping across professions. The overall goal of this movement is to make evidence-based practice (EBP) normative (Levant, 2005).

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