ERIC Identifier: ED277655
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education
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
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
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'
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
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
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
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
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.