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Unformatted text preview: Essay Grappling with the Literature of Education Research and Practice Erin L. Dolan Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 Submitted September 4, 2007; Accepted September 20, 2007 Monitoring Editor: William B. Wood The absence of a central database and use of specialized language hinder nonexperts in becoming familiar with the science teaching and learning literature and using it to inform their work. The challenge of locating articles related to a specific question or problem, coupled with the difficulty of comprehending findings based on a variety of different perspectives and practices, can be prohibitively difficult. As I have transitioned from bench to classroom-based research, I have become familiar with how to locate, decipher, and evaluate the education research literature. In this essay, I point out analogies to the literature of science research and practice, and I reference some of the literature that I have found useful in becoming an education researcher. I also introduce a new regular feature, Current Insights: Recent Research in Science Teaching and Learning, which is designed to point CBELife Sciences Education ( CBE-LSE ) readers to current articles of interest in life sciences education, as well as more general and noteworthy publications in education research. INTRODUCTION Ideally, the breadth of education research informs teaching and learning research in the life sciences. However, the body of theoretical and practical research in education is sprawl- ing, making up . 20,000 articles published each year in . 1100 journals (Mosteller et al ., 2004). The absence of any unified, systematic mechanism for cataloging or accessing this information makes it nearly impossible for scientists to keep abreast of the literature on science teaching and learn- ing, much less use it to inform their own work. When the challenge of locating articles of interest is coupled with the difficulty of comprehending the findings of an entirely dif- ferent discipline, with epistemologies, cultures, and prac- tices distinct from those of the science community (Feuer et al ., 2002; Shavelson and Towne, 2002), many scientists throw up their hands in frustration. As I have transitioned from bench to classroom-based research, I have had both the necessity and the luxury, and sometimes the aggravation, of developing a working knowledge of theoretical and practi- cal research in education. As I have shared references with my scientist colleagues, I have witnessed several beneficial outcomes. Learning about others teaching and outreach efforts from practitioner journals has helped us develop a more comprehensive idea of the needs, interests, and priorities of our colleagues in education and avoid reinventing the wheel in education programming (Dolan et al ., 2004). Reviewing the research literature has honed our thinking about how to document the effects of educational interventions on teaching and learning. I have expanded my vocabulary such that I canlearning....
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