How to Read & Stay Informed about Educational Research

There is much that we can learn by staying abreast of current and emerging research in the field of education. I know that some educators do not enjoy it, but the rewards make up for the challenge, and the more one reads, the easier it gets to make sense of that reading. What would happen if more educators took a few hours a month to review the current and emerging literature, discuss a bit of it with colleagues, and use that learning to benefit their work? I suspect that we could see some notable benefits. Toward that end, here are a few resources to get interested us started in that direction.

How to Read Academic Research (video) – This light-hearted 12-minute video provides useful and practical tips on how to read academic articles. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvnUojPCftk

How to Read Education Data Without Jumping to Conclusions – This Atlantic article provides a number of practical tips on what to do and not do when reading educational research. – http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/how-to-read-education-data-without-jumping-to-conclusions/374045/

What is Scientifically Based Research? A Guide for Teachers – This easy-to-read article explains the importance of reading research as a teacher. It also provides tips on how to do it. – http://www.readingrockets.org/article/31080

Using Research and Reason in Education: How Teachers Can use Scientifically Based Research to Make Curricular and Instructional Designs – This is an extremely valuable article. It provides a strong rationale for reading research as an educator. However, it also gives a through introduction to the types of research out there, the role of different types of research, as well as how this research can help inform decisions as an educational professional. – https://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/Pages/using_research_stanovich.aspx

Open Access Eduaction Journals – There are a growing number of excellent education journals that are freely available online in full-text. This long list is a great source for beginning a review of the research. Consider setting the goal of identifying and reading one article a day for a week on a topic of interest. It doesn’t take much time and makes for a rich and rewarding learning experience. – http://www.ergobservatory.info/ejdirectory.html 

Educational Technology Journals – This page from Northern Illinois University provides a long list of different educational technology journals. Consider taking time to visit the sites of a number of these journals. Look for topics and articles of interest. Consider reading a few of them. If some are not available, try using your local library to get copies of them. Some of the most current research is often not immediately available online in full-text. – http://www.niu.edu/facdev/programs/handouts/edtechjournals.shtml

What Works Clearinghouse – This US government site provides an extensive collection of research-based practices for education. Note that there is a dedicated section for educational technology, including access to some research reports.  – http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/default.aspx

How Do Teachers Read Research? – This is an older study about how different teachers read research articles. As you read it, consider how you read research. Do you read educational research? When? Why? How? Use this as a chance to reflect on the role that reading research plays in your own life as a professional educator. – http://education.msu.edu/ncrtl/pdfs/ncrtl/researchreports/rr926.pdf

Creating an APA Format Annotated Bibliography – This 9-minute video walks you through the process of creating an annotated bibliography. This is simply a list of research around a common theme, with short annotations after each item. This is how I got started in my review of research in the field. I picked an education topic of personal interest and gave myself the assignment of developing 10-20 source annotated bibliographies around that topic. These became wonderful tools for making more informed decisions in my work. In only a few months, I was amazed at how much I could learn. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPhWhRlEWtI

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About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, host of the MoonshotEdu Show, professor of education, AVP of Academics, and Chief Innovation officer. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), and Adventures in Self-Directed Learning. He is passionate about futures in education, educational innovation, alternative education, and nurturing agency and curiosity.