Promises, Promises: A Little Meta, a Lot of Narrative

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Reviews the book, Classroom Communication and Instructional Processes: Advances Through Meta-Analysis edited by Barbara M. Gayle, Raymond W. Preiss, Nancy Burrell, and Mike Allen (see record 2006-02550-000). As a new addition to the Lawrence Erlbaum Associates' Communication Series, the volume is seemingly intended for researchers in communication education. The content of many chapters should be of interest to the broader educational research community. The volume consists of 25 chapters, 18 written by at least one of the four editors. Although some chapters include results of an original or updated meta-analysis on a topic of interest, other chapters simply report the results of previously published meta-analyses. Nine of the chapters appear to be narrative introductions to the text as a whole or specific subsections or summaries of what we think we know. The majority of meta-analyses reported in the book use the correlational approach. It appears that most of the meta-analyses reported in the volume treated various outcomes separately, thus giving more weight to the studies with multiple outcomes. Almost all of the meta-analyses reported in this volume indicate that the calculated effect sizes are heterogeneous. There are several positive features of the volume. The various chapters provide excellent overviews of the particular constructs examined through meta-analysis. The challenges of conducting research related to these constructs are clearly delineated. Studies used in various meta-analyses are clearly indicated so that other scholars can easily access empirical studies on a topic. The referencing is extensive and provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of communication education. In summary, I believe that the four editors could have produced a wonderful 100-page monograph on meta-analytic studies in communication education. Currently, the wonderful stuff is embedded in a text that includes advocacy for popular techniques, foreshadowing of material presented, and summaries of what we have learned. So one has to wade through a lot of narrative to find a little meta.

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