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A Tireless Champion of Rigorous Methods in Education Research

IPR Director pays tribute to Larry Hedges, 2018 Yidan Prize Recipient


Statement from Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach:

The Yidan prize honors a researcher who has made outstanding accomplishments in education research, with an ultimate goal of creating long-lasting impacts on the entire world. I can think of no one that better reflects these values than our own Larry Hedges.  

Larry's tireless championing of rigorous quantitative methods in education research has fundamentally reshaped the entire field of education research. His methodological contributions on meta-analysis and other aspects of education research have been transformative. 

I remember reading one of his articles on the meta-analysis of class size effects in graduate school and being struck with one of those "a-ha!" moments, understanding for the first time how meta-analysis could provide a rigorous method for aggregating across different studies and allowing us to see the "forest" instead of focusing on each individual tree.

More important, in my opinion, is his lasting impact on building the profession through teaching and mentoring. He is unusually gifted in this area and is a devoted mentor to a large number of students. His impact is well exemplified by the Society for Research in Educational Effectiveness (SREE) that Larry helped found in 2005. Today, the annual SREE conference consists of multiple days of dozens of panels of rigorous empirical work aimed at improving education policy and practice. Everywhere you turn at the conference you run into former students of Larry's, who have gone on to productive research careers with a passion for bringing the best empirical methods to the most important questions. 

When I think back on my own career, I approached Larry as a brand-new assistant professor to ask if he would agree to provide some methodological assistance on a grant application—which would turn out to be the first grant I ever received. Knowing Larry, I doubt he even remembers this kind action, but it made a huge difference to me at that stage of my career. I have seen him make similar, generous investments in many other scholars.

His impact on this field, both through his direct academic work and through his teaching and mentoring, has immeasurable reach.