ERIC Identifier: ED277655
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education Washington DC.
The Importance of the Educational Resources Information Center for Teacher Candidates. ERIC Digest #10.
The ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) system can be a vital resource for teacher education, since it offers not only research findings but also practical ideas and information that teacher candidates can use throughout their professional careers. This digest highlights ERIC's features and shows how to use the system most effectively. It offers suggestions on ways in which teacher education faculty can present and use the ERIC system in their classrooms.
WHAT IS ERIC?
It's the world's largest educational database--used by researchers, education professionals, and policy makers around the world. ERIC can expand teacher candidates' knowledge of the profession, broaden their career horizons, and give them a lifelong resource for improving professional competence.
WHY DO TEACHER CANDIDATES NEED TO USE ERIC?
ERIC is the most comprehensive education information service for teachers and teacher candidates.
Accessibility. ERIC contains more than 500,000 documents and journal articles from all areas of education. Many documents, from research reports to curriculum guides, pamphlets to conference papers, are included. The system is accessible either by computer or through print indexes, using the information published in its two monthly indexes, RESOURCES IN EDUCATION (RIE) and CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION (CIJE), found in university libraries nationwide. The indexes provide full bibliographic citations and abstracts for each entry, along with subject and author indexes. The full text of RIE documents is available on microfiche in the library collections. Computer searches of the database are available in more locations than are microfiche collections.
Lifelong Resource. Learning the ERIC system gives teacher candidates access to materials for term papers, bibliographies, and other research assignments. But more importantly, ERIC offers a lifelong entry to the education profession's comprehensive resources. In addition to research findings, ERIC documents and journal articles contain many practical "ideas that work"--suggestions on classroom management, curriculum enhancement, handling of discipline problems, and information on current educational and professional issues such as teenage pregnancy, merit pay, career ladders, and teacher evaluation.
Multiple Viewpoints. ERIC allows comprehensive information gathering in all disciplines connected with education because, unlike a single publication or a piece written from a single author's perspective, the system contains many viewpoints. For example, a single search of CIJE and RIE on the subject "classroom discipline" will yield views of teachers, principals, education faculty, and researchers.
Career Development. Database literature also helps teacher candidates obtain comprehensive information on career development. Information on subjects from certification requirements in the states and international education opportunities, to staff development programs and innovative products and techniques, can be found in ERIC.
WHY SHOULD FACULTY TEACH ERIC IN THE CLASSROOM?
Faculty have special areas of expertise to draw from when teaching the ERIC system. A faculty member can help the student find various theories, practices, specific researchers, and organizations which will provide knowledge about the subject. Thus, guidance from a faculty member helps the student define the information question and determine how to locate relevant information.
Classroom assignments that follow a library orientation will assure a more thorough understanding of how to find information in ERIC. Learning how to use the system without practice is like learning to drive a car without starting the engine. Students need someone knowledgeable in the subject area to pose specific teaching situations they may encounter for which the ERIC system would be helpful. In this way, the use of ERIC can become an integral part of teachers' professional lives.
WHAT SHOULD TEACHER CANDIDATES KNOW TO USE ERIC EFFECTIVELY?
To use the ERIC system effectively, teacher education candidates should know three things: how to define the question, how to conduct a search of the print indexes or ask for a computer search, and how to locate the full text of the documents and journal articles.
Defining the Question. Both manual and computer searches begin with defining the search question. The more precisely the question is posed, the more "on target" the resources from the system will be. ERIC indexes each document and article using a controlled vocabulary found in the THESAURUS OF ERIC DESCRIPTORS. For example, a question like, "What do good elementary school teachers do?" is far too broad. But, "What are some effective teaching strategies for fifth grade?" yields a list of documents that are indexed by the descriptors "Teaching Methods" and "Grade 5." Exercises are available which will give students practice using the THESAURUS (Houston 1981).
Conducting the Search. It is advantageous to use the ERIC print indexes in a library because this can be done easily and independently and, unlike a computer search which usually involves a fee, the manual search is free. Using print indexes is also the easiest way to locate resources if only a few documents are needed on a specific topic (ERIC Clearinghouse on Social Studies 1981). Other advantages of print indexes are the "serendipitous find" and the ability to change direction without expensive computer manipulations.
To conduct a manual search, the students must be thoroughly familiar with the THESAURUS and the RIE and CIJE journals containing the indexes, abstracts, and ordering information needed to locate a complete document or journal article. Specifically, they need to know how to use the author and subject indexes; how to interpret the information contained in the abstract; and where to obtain the materials after they find the identification numbers (an ED number for an ERIC Document, and an EJ number for an ERIC journal).
A computer search is useful for doing an in-depth literature review when the information question is complex. Computer searches are available in many college and university libraries, school district resource centers, and state department of education offices. Students should consult the Directory OF ERIC Information Service Providers to identify the location of the nearest ERIC microfiche collection or the nearest institution which is able to search the ERIC database. In addition, the ERIC database can be searched by using home computers (Klausmeier 1984).
Locating the Text. After locating the identification numbers of documents and journal articles, the students must learn to locate the documents in the microfiche collection and the journals in the serials collection. If a journal is unavailable in a library, a reprint of the article can be ordered from University Microfilms International, Article Reprint Service, 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Photocopies of most microfiche documents can be ordered from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service, 3900 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria, VA 22304.
SOME SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES FOR CLASSROOM FOLLOW-UP
1. Compile a bibliography of recent documents and journal articles in the ERIC system on a specific topic, such as testing.
2. Locate recent curriculum guides to social studies to update resources in the school curriculum lab.
3. Debate a controversial issue, such as teacher testing, and have the students use materials in ERIC to increase their awareness about the system's diversity.
4. Prepare lesson plans using ideas retrieved from the ERIC system in a subject area applicable to the class.
5. Prepare a policy paper on a controversial subject, such as merit pay for teachers.
6. Give an oral presentation about the impact of educational reform efforts, such as teacher career ladders.
7. Locate statistics about teacher shortages in a particular state.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
ERIC Clearinghouse on Social Studies/Social Science Education. FINDING WHAT YOU NEED IN ERIC. 1981. ED 253 459.
Houston, W.R. USING INFORMATION FROM ERIC TO SOLVE EDUCATION PROBLEMS: A RESOURCE MODULE FOR TEACHER EDUCATION. 1981. ED 209 230.
Klausmeier, J.A. ACCESSING ERIC WITH YOUR MICROCOMPUTER. 1984. ED 254 209.
Laubacher, M.R. HOW TO PREPARE FOR A COMPUTER SEARCH OF ERIC: A NONTECHNICAL APPROACH. Revised and updated. 1983. ED 237 100.
Simmons, R.M. A LIBRARY USERS GUIDE TO ERIC. 1980. ED 192 781.
Tauber, R.T. "ERIC: Its Introduction and Usefulness." JOURNAL OF EDUCATION
FOR TEACHING 11(3) (1985):213-227.
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