Education researchers typically want their work to be read widely. To make a broader and more meaningful impact on the public and on educational practice they often desire media attention. But do the media report on education research, especially high quality research that has been subject to strenuous peer review?
In new research, Holly Yettick of the Education Week Research Center describes how often news media cite evidence from education research that has undergone scientific peer review. She examined all news items that appeared during the first 6 months of 2010 in daily newspapers, online-only outlets, and Education Week. She also interviewed 33 writers who report on education for various news outlets.
What she found will disappoint most education researchers. In contrast to science or medical journalists, education journalists virtually never refer to peer-reviewed education research; nor do they utilize media-related resources provided by organizations like the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She concludes that “peer-reviewed academic education research and the AERA organization are barely a blip on the radar of American education reporting.”
Why is this true? Yettick argues that education researchers, especially those in universities, do far less than scholars in other disciplines to pro-actively seek out media coverage. She also notes that education research is relatively less well funded; tends to produce more complex results that defy concise explanation; is often perceived as largely subjective; and is scattered in more journals than in fields like medicine. She concludes with recommendations about how to improve this sad situation.
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