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Evidence-based practice in teaching: an information perspective.

Williams, Dorothy; Coles, Louisa


Dorothy Williams

Louisa Coles


Purpose The purpose of this research is to explore UK teachers' use of research-based information, with a particular focus on issues relating to access to information in schools, information literacy, and the role of the school librarian and school library services. Design/methodology/approach The study adopts a mixed methodology. In-depth qualitative data gathered through vignette interviews ( n=28), group exercises (four groups of between three and five teachers) and a discussion forum were supplemented by quantitative data gathered through surveys of teachers ( n=312), head teachers ( n=78), school librarians ( n=78) and school library services ( n=26). Findings Teachers' professional use of research information reflects a preference for predigested information and informal sources. Although professional bodies and government departments promote the use of research by teachers and provide a range of customised web sites for information, lack of ready local access to information and lack of time were cited as major barriers to the use of research information. Teachers also revealed uncertainties and lack of confidence in their own ability to find and evaluate such information. The findings suggest scope for more targeted provision by school librarians of both information and skills to support the professional development of teachers. However, this raises issues of priorities and resources, and needs to be seen in the context of a wider change in ethos supported by senior management. The study also raises questions about teachers' own experiences and approaches to the use of information in professional learning, and how this might impact on the provision of support for their pupils and the potential for collaborative working between librarians and teachers. Research limitations/implications The qualitative aspects of the study provided a rich source of data from teachers with varying levels of experience and involvement with the use of research information. However, a low response to the teacher questionnaire survey (10.9 per cent, overall, 312 teachers) resulted in a bias towards more research-oriented teachers in that particular data set. While the data from research-oriented teachers do appear to triangulate, it is difficult to generalise to other teachers. Therefore teacher survey data have been treated with some caution and drawn on only to aid further understanding of the issues raised in interviews and group exercises. Originality/value In focusing attention on teachers' information behaviour and information literacy, this paper provides a new perspective on the issues affecting the lack of uptake of research evidence within the teaching profession, contributes to the literature on information behaviour and information literacy in professional contexts, and contributes to the understanding of factors which may have a bearing on the development of student information literacy in schools.


WILLIAMS, D. and COLES, L. 2007. Evidence-based practice in teaching: an information perspective. Journal of documentation [online], 63(6), pages 812-835. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 23, 2007
Online Publication Date Oct 23, 2007
Publication Date Dec 31, 2007
Deposit Date May 9, 2008
Publicly Available Date May 9, 2008
Journal Journal of documentation
Print ISSN 0022-0418
Electronic ISSN 1758-7379
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 63
Issue 6
Pages 812-835
Keywords Information literacy; Behaviour; Evidence based practice; Teachers; Schools
Public URL


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