A Framework for Learning From Null Results

Robin T. Jacob, Fred Doolittle, James Kemple, Marie Andrée Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A substantial number of randomized trials of educational interventions that have been conducted over the past two decades have produced null results, with either no impact or an unreliable estimate of impact on student achievement or other outcomes of interest. The investment of time and money spent implementing such trials warrants more useful information than simply “this didn’t work.” In this article, we propose a framework for defining null results and interpreting them and then propose a method for systematically examining a set of potential reasons for a study’s findings. The article builds on prior work on the topic and synthesizes it into a common framework designed to help the field improve both the design and interpretation of randomized trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-589
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • evaluation
  • experimental design
  • experimental research
  • planning
  • program evaluation
  • research utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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