The field of education research is relatively new in comparison to Scholarly fields.
Most education research and scholarly journals trace their inception to the 1970s. Yet, our nation’s schools and our parenting styles have been relatively slow to respond to education research findings. Why is this happening?
A recent study published in Educational Researcher found:
“Most members of the American public obtain much of their information about education from the news media… Unlike science or medical journalists, education writers virtually never cite peer-reviewed research. Nor do they use the American Educational Research Association as resource. Academic experts are also underrepresented in news media coverage, especially when compared to government officials.”
The study goes on to list the research journals most frequently mentioned in the media and finds that Pediatrics, Developmental Psychology, and The New England Journal of Medicine together with other medical and psychological journals are the most frequently cited research sources.
The author of the study, Holly Yettick, notes that her findings suggest that peer-reviewed education research is “barely a blip on the radar of American education reporting.” Ouch!
This raises the question for me: What are educational researchers doing so wrongly that our research isn’t sought out by people who have questions about the state of education in America?
Answer: Massive publicity fail.
“Purveyors of peer-reviewed education research have been less proactive with publicity than those in the science and medical fields… This lack of publicity on the part of universities may help to explain the finding that think tanks, which do publicize their research, generate relatively more news per study than do academics… An additional reason is that think tanks generally aim to influence policy by producing research that is relevant to issues of public interest.”
“University researchers must embrace simplicity and clarity by writing lucid, concise news releases about their work.”
In other words, university researchers need to research questions parents and the general public care about, write about their findings in a way that parents and the general public can understand, and spread the word through outlets that parents and the general public might read.
Yettick makes clear what many have understood anecdotally for a long time: As it turns out, parents don’t flock to peer-reviewed educational research journals to look for answers to their most common questions about schooling in the United States.
These pages represent an effort to consolidate current research sources, to translate research for a broader audience, and offer a forum for discussing findings and what they mean for parenting and schooling our kids.