How Do We Learn if Ed Innovations Really Work?

How do you learn whether music lessons can increase social-emotional learning; if inquiry-based learning can increase student engagement; or if an app can increase a student's STEM awareness? The entrepreneurs in our program worked diligently last year in concert with educators at our pilot sites to find out. 

Over the course of LEANLAB Education’s K12 Fellowship, fellows conducted  research at three public schools in Kansas City. This research was undertaken not only to determine the impact of the ventures but also to give students, teachers, and administrators a chance to give feedback and have their input heard early-on in the life-cycle of those products and services. This concept of designing with the community isn’t a symbolic gesture; we believe this process of feedback and iteration, ultimately, creates more sustainable products that are directly meeting the demands of the schools that entrepreneurs hope to serve.

It was important that this research process was inclusive, as well as rigorous. Our fellows and the Lead End User at the school site (usually a teacher, instructional coach, or administrator) worked closely to define the objectives of the study. Together, they worked with our Director of Research, Ebony Edwards, Ph.D, to develop a theory of action, design the test methodology, implement the test, collect and interpret data, and make recommendations for modifications.


The results of these research studies were fruitful for both the ventures and the schools involved. During the four month studies, the fellows were able to gain insights on what was working and what wasn't through a mixture of qualitative data collected and anecdotal feedback from teachers, administrators, and students that were using the products. All the fellows made modifications to their products based on their research. LEANLAB awarded $60,000 at the end of our fellowship for inquirED, Base Academy of Music, Innovare, and Doors to Explore to continue the research with their partner schools.