José Vasconcelos World Award of Education 2023
Field of Work: Meta-analysis
Date: 3 November 2023
Place of Ceremony: Great Hall
Host Institution: University of Helsinki
Host Country: Finland
Professor Larry V. Hedges has been selected as the winner of the World Cultural Council “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education 2023.
The prize is awarded in recognition of Prof. Hedges´s groundbreaking and systematic application of research and his development of methods for meta-analysis over the past four decades which have contributed to more accurate assessment of evidence across disciplines.
The jury recognizes Prof. Hedges´s dedication to improving the quality of education by rigorously applying scientific evidence to formulate effective policies and innovative training methods. The jury also enthusiastically highlights that his impact extends far beyond academic boundaries—it has led to local, national, and international institutions advancing education practices, products, and programs.
Prof. Hedges´s vision of education as a vehicle to promote societal equity mirrors the commitment of José Vasconcelos, whose life work was dedicated to bringing education to all people regardless of their differences in cognitive abilities, gender, ethnicity or social class.
For more than four decades, Larry Hedges has devoted his energy to four areas: statistical methods for research synthesis and meta-analysis; statistical models for memory and cognition; educational policy analysis; and group differences in cognitive abilities. His work on the synthesis of research from replicated research studies (meta-analysis) is widely viewed to have transformed the practice of systematic reviewing of research in education and psychology.
Prof. Hedges’s visionary leadership has substantially contributed to place education research in a pivotal role in education policy. For example, in the 1980s, many studies led economists to firmly conclude that school resources did not affect educational outcomes like learning and achievement. This line of thinking implied that policies involving expanded resources to schools would make little difference to outcomes and therefore should not be considered. Hedges conducted a series of meta-analyses that engaged more rigorous methods. He showed that the very same studies that economists had used to suggest that there was no relation between resources and important educational outcomes actually showed that there was a positive relation between the two, Studies like this helped cement Hedges’s application of meta-analysis as a crucial tool in contemporary applied statistics.
Meta-analysis, along with the rigorous systematic reviewing of it, has transformed the understanding of research evidence in education and related fields like psychology and numerous others, such as medicine, public health, and experimental ecology. Hedges’s books: Statistical Methods for Meta-Analysis, the Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis, and his textbook Introduction to Meta-Analysis are enormously influential and highly cited. The software that he co-wrote, Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, is the most popular commercial software on the topic.
In addition to training his own students, Prof. Hedges has trained hundreds of established education research professionals. He has been elected to be Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Statistical Association, and the American Psychological Association.
Augmenting his remarkable academic accomplishments, Prof. Hedges has served on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health for Diversity Programs. He also served on the first International Technical Advisory Group for PISA, and on the US National Academy of Science’s Board on International Comparative Studies in Education, which advised the U.S. Department of Education on policy for such studies.
In 2018 Prof. Hedges received the Yidan Prize for Education Research, and was named “one of the most influential applied statisticians in the world.” He was lauded for his work in education policy which “allows policymakers, educators and the general public to see the evidence for ‘what works’ in the field of education, and makes it possible to take a scientific approach to improving education for future generations.”