Information-Seeking Behaviors of Education Literature User Populations
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Teachers College Record 112 (10): 2537-2564 (2010)

Background / Context: A thorough understanding of the information-seeking behaviors of specific disciplines, as well as distinct user groups within a discipline, is fundamental to the process of development of disciplinary informatics. Significant research has been conducted, largely by library and information science scholars across a range of disciplines, but none that has focused primarily on education. Existing studies of information-seeking behavior have not been communicated to education scholars and professionals. The lack of consensus on the nature, execution, and application of educational research and the fundamental disconnect between scholars and practitioners further complicate the question. Users of education literature are diverse, including a spectrum of scholars, professionals, practitioners, parents, and the general public. Patterns of information seeking and application must be better understood to successfully develop a structure for education informatics. Purpose: The purpose of this article is to bring to the education community a higher level of awareness of the overarching dynamics of information structure, organization, and retrieval, as well as recognition of the relationship of those dynamics to the evolving nature, definition, and execution of education research, to the development of education informatics. Research Design: This article consists of a literature review and synthesis of research, analysis of distinct user populations, and an issues analysis with recommendations. Conclusions: Exacerbated by failed communication opportunities across all segments of the producer/user community, and in spite of legislative mandates for data-driven and scientifically based research, there remains a void in the collective ability to converse across subsets of the user community and to translate research into practice. Practitioners need to learn basic research design, concepts, methodologies, and assessment measures; means to interpret results, validity, and bias; and ways to understanding limitations of the study. Practitioners also must be able to incorporate findings into their practice. They must do teacher research that is collaborative, replicable, shared, and reviewable and become both effective producers and critical consumers of research. Academic researchers need to focus on the complex issues that teachers face on a daily basis; explain why questions are being asked and conducted in a particular way; present findings in a manner more accessible to practitioners; and demonstrate how findings can be made generalizable. Education informatics has the potential to be the dynamic that helps translate research into practice to facilitate the application of research findings within the context of individualized environments, to provide the common ground for collaborative work, and to create the necessary synergy between theory and practice.
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