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ERIC Number: EJ763431
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun
Pages: 22
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1881
Teachers' Approaches to Finding and Using Research Evidence: An Information Literacy Perspective
Williams, Dorothy; Coles, Louisa
Educational Research, v49 n2 p185-206 Jun 2007
Background: The use of research evidence produced by others is seen as central to the reflective practice of school teachers. There have been many recent UK initiatives aimed at improving access to research evidence, but there are still concerns about the lack of engagement by teachers. Previous research has looked at this issue from different perspectives, including the content and relevance of educational research, the relationships between researchers and teachers, accessibility and presentation of research and the culture of the school. The research presented here seeks to make a contribution to understanding the diffusion of research in the teaching profession by examining the issues from an information literacy perspective. Purpose: This paper examines the use of research information by UK school teachers, placing an emphasis on their information literacy--i.e. teachers' strategies and confidence in their abilities to find, evaluate and use research information, which is defined as the published output of a planned piece of research. Sample: Survey data were collected from 312 teachers and 78 head teachers from nursery, primary and secondary schools in Scotland, England and Wales. The sample included a wide range of teaching experience, ages, subject responsibilities, school locations and sizes, although there was a bias towards teachers who were motivated to use research evidence. Interviews were conducted with 28 teachers from primary, secondary, nursery and special education schools, and a further 15 teachers took part in group exercises. Interview and group exercise samples were more varied in their levels of research involvement. Design and methods: A mixed methodology was used. The questionnaire survey sought background data on more general attitudes towards research, as well as data on information access and confidence in finding and using general and research information. This was supplemented by qualitative evidence on information strategies and experiences from scenario or vignette interviews. Group exercises in which teachers discussed their responses to specific examples of research information were useful in focusing on strategies for evaluating information. Results: While survey respondents were, on balance, positively motivated towards the use of research evidence, their actual use of information from research was limited. They considered the most prominent barriers to their use of research information were associated with lack of time and lack of ready access to sources. This is likely to be a limiting factor in terms of the development of teacher confidence in finding, evaluating and using the kinds of information sources which are increasingly available to support their professional development. In fact survey evidence from the more research-motivated sample indicated that teachers were considerably less confident in finding and using research information than general information. Their confidence was slightly higher in finding research information (e.g. 67.1% and 60.9% were either confident or very confident in defining information needs and locating information respectively) compared to using research information (for example, 56.5% were either confident or very confident in organizing and synthesizing information). However, evidence from the more mixed interview and group exercise samples also revealed a range of concerns about lack of skills and knowledge needed to search and evaluate information effectively. Conclusions: The findings suggest that information literacy may be a factor in limiting the use of research information, exacerbating the perceived challenges of lack of time and lack of ready access to information sources. From an information perspective, teachers' use of research evidence is likely to be enhanced by greater development of information literacy; more attention to local information dissemination strategies; and the development of an information culture and ethos within schools. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Junior High Schools; Preschool Education; Primary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England); United Kingdom (Scotland); United Kingdom (Wales)