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Prof Carole Torgerson

Honorary Professor

Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Visiting Chair, SFI, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Honorary Professor in the School of Education  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing  


After taking degrees in English Literature and Modern English Poetry from the Universities of York and Stirling, Carole Torgerson taught English in a wide variety of schools in England and Scotland. She undertook her doctorate in design issues in experimental research at the University of Sheffield before starting her academic career. She was Reader in Evidence-based Education at the University of York, before moving to The University of Birmingham as Professor of Experimental Design and then to Durham University where she is Professor of Education.

Carole was co-chair of the Campbell Collaboration Education Co-ordinating Group between 2006-9 and principal member of the United States Institutes of Education Sciences (IES) Reading and Writing and Science and Mathematics review panels, and a consultant methodologist to the IES on research design between 2006-13. She is the founder and co-organiser of the annual international Randomised Controlled Trials in the Social Sciences Conference, now in its fourteenth year.

Carole’s main teaching interests are: masters, doctoral and post-doctoral education and training in research design, methodology and methods in education and the social sciences; experimental research (randomised controlled trials RCTs and studies of quasi-experimental designs QEDs) and literature reviews; undergraduate teaching in research methods; rigorous evaluation design and methods in education and all areas of social policy.

Affiliate of the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education

Completed Supervisions

A Group of Home Educating Mothers in Turkey: Their Reasons, Pedagogic Approaches and Use of Digital Resources.

The investigation and evaluation of the support mechanisms offered to adults with a diagnosis of dyslexia in higher education study. 

Impact assessment of STEM initiatives in improving educational outcomes.

Devising New Models for School Improvement in Developing Nations: Sierra Leone, a case study.

Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

Carole is happy to discuss supervisions with prospective doctoral students in the following areas:

The use of systematic review, meta-analytic, experimental and quasi-experimental designs in any area of education; literacy; English education; music education.

Research Interests

Carole's main methodological research interests are in experimental design and research synthesis. Much of her funded research has been in evaluations using randomised controlled trial designs and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of experimental research. She has received awards from the Education Endowment Foundation, DfE, Home Office, ESRC, HEA, CfBT, HEFCE, NIHR, MRC, Sutton Trust and a range of other organisations.

Media/Knowledge translation and impact (policy and practice)

Ben Styles and Carole Torgerson (2019) Trials, Tribulations and Centenary Celebrations, in Times Educational Supplement (TES), 23rd August, 2019

Carole Torgerson, Discussant: Gianluca Argentin and Gianpaolo Barbetto Gli effeti a breve termine delle Family Group Conferences sul benessere desli studenti at Dialoghi per il benessere a scuola: Il progetto Family StAR: un esperienza innovativa, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italia, October 17th 2018

Carole Torgerson and Dominic Wyse 'Grammar teaching in the national curriculum: has it failed the test?' TES 20th December 2017

Carole Torgerson 'Experiments in education: The key to tackling educational disadvantage?' in (Eds.) Claudia Wood and Ralph Scott 'Harnessing what works in eliminating educational disadvantage...', DEMOS, 2014

Carole Torgerson ‘Education research: Call for controls’ Letter, Science, September 2, 2011

Carole Torgerson ‘Perverse pay off’, Letter, New Scientist, April 30, 2011

Andrews, R., Torgerson, C., Low, G. And McGuinn, N. (2011) Teaching argument writing to 7-14 year olds, Better Evidence-based education: English, Winter 2011

Carole Torgerson ‘Reading on trial’, Letter, Telegraph, July 21, 2010

Brooks, G., Torgerson, C.J. and Hall, J. (2009) The use of phonics in the teaching of reading and spelling, Evidence-based policy briefs, Volume 3, June, 2009, NCS Pearson, Inc., US

See, BH, Torgerson, CJ and Andrews, R ‘Argumentation skills are underdeveloped in undergraduates, Point for Debate, THES, 1 June, 2007

Torgerson, C. Need for randomisation, BMJ, 2006 

Torgerson C.J. Initial formation of unbiased groups is most important issue in randomised controlled trials. British Medical Journal 2002;25:1155

Research Projects

  • A systematic review of the international literature on effective professional development interventions for groups of welfare professionals
  • DIY Evaluation Guide Version 3
  • EasyPeasy Evaluation
  • Evaluation of “Family Lives: Parent Child Home Programme'
  • Evaluation of ABRA
  • Evaluation of Calderdale : Improving writing quality, using SRSD and memorable experiences
  • Evaluation of EdTech Innovation Testbed
  • Evaluation of ReflectED
  • Independent evaluation of SHINE on Manchester schools
  • Independent Evaluation Of The Maths Champions Programme
  • Smoking prevention in young people: a cluster randomised controlled trial of implementation intentions
  • Teen Sleep Research Pilot
  • The research design basis for undergraduate quantitative methods (QM) teaching
  • Third Space Learning
  • Toolkit for Higher Education Access 2
  • Toolkit for Higher Education Access: A series of systematic reviews
  • Tutor Trust Project Evaluation
  • Writing Bundle: An evaluation of Grammar for Writing
  • Writing Bundle: Calderdale Excellence Partnership
  • Writing Bundle: Discover

Awarded Grants

  • 2019: Evaluation of EdTech innovation testbed, £723K, DfE/Nesta
  • 2019: ParentChild+(£35565.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2017: A systematic review of the international literature on effective professional development interventions for groups of welfare professionals(£30000.00 from TrygFonden)
  • 2017: ABRA Trial(£18135.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2017: Evaluation of 'ReflectED Metacognition'(£20971.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2016: Tutor Trust Project Evaluation(£42325.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2015: Evaluation of Maths Champions(£6427.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Calderdale 2(£107700.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Calderdale 2(£6029.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Development of an Interactive DIY evaluation guide(£782.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Sleep and attainment(£3198.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2014: Third Space Learning (KnowMaths: On-line Maths Tutoring)(£11076.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2013: DISCOVER 2013/14 (Writing Bundle)(£5543.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2013: SHINE 2(£11956.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2013: Toolkit for Higher Education Access 2(£9765.25 from The Sutton Trust)
  • 2012: An evaluation of Grammar for Writing(£10477.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2012: An evaluation of the Calderdale Excellence Partnership Project(£10477.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2012: SHINE(£47505.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)
  • 2012: Smoking prevention in young people: A cluster randomised controlled trial of implementation intentions(£20101.69 from MRC)
  • 2012: The Research Design Basis for Undergraduate Quantitative Methods (QM) Teaching(£18427.00 from ESRC)
  • 2012: Toolkit for Higher Education Access(£34929.87 from The Sutton Trust)

Esteem Indicators

  • 0000: Awards and prizes: Janet Duffin Award 2013

    British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM) ;

    Torgerson, C.J., Wiggins, A., Torgerson, D.J., Ainsworth, H., Hewitt, C.(2013) Every Child Counts: Testing policy effectiveness using a RCT, Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 15 (2) 141-153

    The Janet Duffin Award is made annually by the Society to the author (or authors) of what is judged to be the most outstanding contribution - either research paper or essay review - published in the Society’s journal, Research in Mathematics Education [RME], during the preceding calendar year.

  • 0000: Cabinet Office: Academic Advisory Panel, 2014
  • 0000: Co-Chair and Editor, international Campbell Collaboration Education Co-ordinating Group: and member of C2 Steering Group, 2006–09
  • 0000: International: Principal member Mathematics and Science Scientific Review Panel, United States, Institutes of Education Sciences (IES), ;2007-8 and 2011-13
  • 0000: International: Principal member (only non-US) Reading and Writing Scientific Review Panel, United States, Institutes of Education Sciences (IES), 2008-11
  • 0000: International: Member (only non-US) Expert Methodology Group, United States, Institutes of Education Sciences (IES), 2010
  • 0000: International: Member Advisory Board: edited volume: Lipsey, M. and Cordray, M. (Eds.) Field Experimentation: Methods for Evaluating What Works, for Whom, Under What Circumstances, How and Why, Sage, 2009
  • 0000: International Advisory Group: Supporting Informed Healthcare Choices in Low Income Countries research project (based in Norway)

    Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring, Durham University

    Family StAR project, Università Cattolica di Milano (based in Italy)

    Campbell Collaboration UK and Ireland

  • 0000: International Peer Review Panel: Member, Trygfonden Foundation grants peer review panel, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014.
  • 0000: Invited presentations: Undertaking randomised controlled trials in education settings: Challenges and solutions Randomised controlled trials in education workshop, Universitat Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italia, 15th October, 2018

    A critique of pure teaching methods and the case for synthetic phonics Research seminar, UCL/IOE, 22/11/'17

    Systematic Reviews: Challenges in communicating the results to policy-makers VIVE/SFI Danish National Research Centre, Copenhagen, September, 2017

    RCTs: State of the Art SFI Danish National Research Centre, Copenhagen, March, 2017

    Owning the future scholarly lecture series (Hatfield College, Durham University) Evaluating Public Policy, January 25th 2017

    Scholars' Supper (John Snow College, Durham University)Challenges in researching the effectiveness of interventions to improve educaiton and wider outcomes for disadvantaged children, Nov. 27th, 2015

    The Rise of RCTs in Education: Statistical and Practical Challenges: Royal Statistical Society Social Statistics Section, November 4th, 2015

    Building Evidence into Education, Ben Goldacre report launch, DfE, London, March 14th 2013, meeting hosted by Michael Gove

    John Snow legacy conference: Opportunities and challenges of undertaking trials in education, April 11th and 12th, 2013

    Experimental evaluation in education for the Ivalua international workshop Social Experiments and Innovation: a new paradigm for public intervention? Barcelona, September 26th 2013 ;

    A brief history of randomised experiments in education (over the last 100 years) for the Century of Social Enquiry seminar series, Department of Social Policy and Innovation, University of Oxford, November 7th 2013

  • 0000: Joint organiser: Annual international conference: Randomised controlled trials in the social sciences 2006-20
  • 0000: Keynotes: Keynote presentation: The history and future of randomised controlled trials in education: 100 years of experimental trials in education conference, jointly organised by RSS and NFER, Royal Statistical Society, September 23rd, 2019

    Keynote Lecture: Janet Duffin Lecture, BSRLM conference, University of Southampton, June 14th 2014

    Keynote speaker: meeting hosted by President of the French Academy of Sciences (closed meeting), (Paris) on the theme ‘Vers une éducation fondée sur la preuve scientifique?’ (Towards an evidence-based education?), May, 2009.

    Keynote presentation: ESRC Research Methods Programme 2007 Conference: ‘Challenges for the 21st Century’: ‘The feasibility of conducting randomised trials in education research’, Nov. 2007.

    Keynote lecture: 2006 Cathie Marsh Memorial Lecture, organised jointly by the Social Research Association (SRA) and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), 'The suitability of randomised controlled trials in social research', Nov 9, 2006.


  • 0000: Member of Editorial Boards: Effective Education, Routledge Journals (Taylor Francis), 2007- present; Educational Research and Evaluation, 2012-; Campbell Collaboration Education Co-ordinating Group, 2012-; Journal of Research in Reading, 2013-

    Editor, Review of Education, 2017-

    Guest Editor, Special Issue, Educational Research Journal (2018) Randomised controlled trials in educational research: Methodological debates, questions, challenges, Vol 60(3) ;2018


  • 0000: National: Member of Academic Group, Dept. of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to support the Government's review of adult literacy and numeracy provision, 2011-12

    Consultant methodologist and methods trainer, BIS, 2013-14

  • 0000: Peer review: Journals ;

    American Educational Research Journal; Annals of Medicine; Biological Psychiatry; British Educational Research Journal; British Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology; British Journal of Educational Psychology; British Journal of Educational Studies; British Journal of Psychology; Child and Adolescent Mental Health; Controlled Clinical Trials; Developmental Science; Educational Research and Evaluation; Educational Review; Effective Education; European Journal of Psychology of Education; Evidence and Policy; International Journal of Educational Research; International Journal of Research and Method in Education; Journal of Early Childhood Research; Journal of Mathematics Education; Journal of Public Policy Research; Journal of Research in Reading; Learning and Instruction; Learning, Media and Technology; Oxford Review of Education; Pediatrics; Psychological Methods; Research Synthesis Methods; Review of Education; Scientific Studies of Reading; Systematic Reviews

    Other peer review

    ;(UK) ESRC grants board; (US) Institutes for Educational Sciences: reports (reading and writing); (US) Institutes for Educational Sciences: ;grants board (science and maths; reading and writing); (UK) MRC grants board; SAGE; Education Endowment Foundation peer review


  • 0000: UKLA/Wiley-Blackwell Research in Literacy Education Award: Member of 2014, 2015, 2016 ;and 2017 panels


Authored book

  • Torgerson, D. & Torgerson, C. (2008). Designing and running randomised trials in health, education and the social sciences. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Torgerson, C.J. (2003). Systematic Reviews. London: Continuum.

Chapter in book

  • Torgerson, C. & Torgerson, D. (2017). True experimental designs. In The BERA/SAGE Handbook of Educational Research. Wyse, D., Selwyn, N., Smith, E. & Suter, L.E SAGE publications Ltd., London.
  • Torgerson, C.J., Torgerson, D.J. & Brown, C.A. (2015). Randomized controlled trials. In Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation (fourth edition). Newcomer, K., Hatry, H. & Wholey, J. Jossey-Bass Wiley.
  • Torgerson, C., Hall, J. & Light, K. (2012). Systematic reviews. In Research Methods and Methodologies in Education. Arthur, J., Waring, M., Coe, R. & Hedges, L.V. Sage. 217-230.
  • Torgerson, C.J., Torgerson, D.J. & Brown, C.A. (2010). Randomized controlled trials and non-randomized designs. In Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation. Wholey, J. Wiley.
  • Andrews, R., Torgerson, C.J. & See, B.H. (2009). Discipline-specific skills in argumentation. In Argumentation in Higher Education: Improving Practice through Research. Andrews, R. Routledge/Falmer: New York.
  • Torgerson, C.J. & Torgerson, D.J. (2009). Randomized controlled trials in education research. In Education Science: A Critical Reader. St. Clair, R. Open University Press: Milton Keynes.
  • Torgerson, C.J. & Freeman, A. (2005). The evidence base for effective ICT practice in literacy learning - what systematic reviews reveal. In Learning to Teach using ICT in the Secondary School. Pachler, N. & Leask, M. Routledge/Falmer, London.
  • Andrews, R., Robinson, A. & Torgerson, C.J. (2004). Introduction. In The Impact of ICT on Literacy Education, 5-16. Andrews, R. Routledge/Falmer, London.
  • Andrews, R., burn, A., Leach, J., Locke, T., Low, G. & Torgerson, C.J. (2004). The impact of networked ICT on literacy learning. In The Impact of ICT on Literacy Education, 5-16. Andrews, R. Routledge/Falmer, London.
  • Torgerson, C.J. & Zhu, D. (2004). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of ICT on literacy learning in English. In The Impact of ICT on Literacy Education, 5-16. Andrews, R. Routledge/Falmer, London.

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)