Evidence-Based Decisions and Education Policymakers
Nozomi Nakajima

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Harvard University

Primary Discipline

Decisions made by education policymakers determine how schools and teachers are organized, and how students learn. In today’s era of evidence-based policymaking, education policymakers face pressure to use research to inform their decisions. This project explores the mental models that policymakers use when integrating research evidence in their policy decisions, with a focus on education policymakers working in state and local education agencies in the United States. First, I examine policymakers’ preferences for research evidence. Using a discrete choice experiment, I present policymakers with a series of research studies that vary along attributes of internal and external validity. Policymakers are asked about their preference between pairs of research studies as they make a hypothetical policy decision, requiring them to make trade-offs between different study attributes. Second, I explore what policymakers believe, what information they seek out, and how they update their beliefs about the effectiveness of education policies. To do so, I elicit policymakers’ predictions for the effect of an education policy in a particular setting. Then, I conduct an information experiment to study how policymakers update their beliefs in response to information from researchers and from peers. I test whether the updating process is consistent with a model of rational learning. Together, the results of this study will help us better understand how education policymakers make evidence-based decisions.
About Nozomi Nakajima
Nozomi Nakajima is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy and Program Evaluation at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how families, schools, and policymakers make educational decisions, as well as the consequences of these decisions on economic and social inequality. In her research, Nozomi combines existing administrative data with new surveys collected in partnership with government and non-profit organizations. By cultivating research-practice partnerships, Nozomi aims to improve the use of research evidence in education.Prior to her doctoral studies, Nozomi worked on research and operational projects at the World Bank. Nozomi holds a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University, M.A. in Education from Stanford University, and A.M. in Statistics from Harvard University. Nozomi was born and raised in Kobe, Japan.

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