As a scientist who has gotten interested in science education, it's amazed me to learn about the people who actively study the way that students learn science, and how poorly this meshes with the way we tend to teach science. The standard way of teaching it-- a lecture series, some lab activities-- the effectiveness of this has been intensely studied, and it's been found that the vast majority of students learn and retain very little of the material. Researchers have also looked at alternatives and found them to provide very significant gains in student learning.
These researchers have done numerous things, but one of the key elements is actually interviewing students, conducting surveys, and testing out their theories about what their results mean. It doesn't sound like rocket science, and it isn't, really. Consistently, they find that students need much more engagement with the material, and to have their assumptions challenged more vigorously than typical in order to learn well.
This points me to two sets of people it's important to listen to-- The students themselves to understand directly what goes on with them as they are being educated, and other smart people who have familiarized themselves with the reality on the ground. It's important to both be personally familiar with the situation and part of a community of smart people who know the reality on the ground!