Solid research is the underpinning of innovations that have a truly positive impact on those whom they touch.

We are all aware of the need for evidence-based approaches in our efforts to positively affect education, but it can be hard to utilize education research to its full potential for many reasons:

  • Research papers can be dense, and their application to the classroom is often not immediately clear.
  • There are a TON of research papers published every year. How do teachers know which are most relevant?
  • With this combination of an overwhelming number of options and fairly low signal-to-noise ratio, what teacher has time to parse through it all to find what they’re looking for?

We recently spoke with Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise, about their Research Map–their effort to address these barriers to educators’ access to academic research. Their goal in creating this resource, she said, is to increase use of research when educators are developing, designing, and implementing new projects and practices.

The Research Map contains over 100,000 research papers published as recently as 2016, conveniently organized by color-coded topics and subtopics. Simply click on a topic or subtopic of interest, and be taken to a list of the 20 most cited or most relevant academic papers. The tool also contains data such as the most-used keywords in a topic. “Researchers tend to jump to the ‘most cited authors’ section, to see if they’re listed”, Cator jokes.

Many of the articles contained in the database are free to access, though some of the research journals hosting the articles do charge for access. In order to make some of that information more accessible, Digital Promise also createe topic pages that serve as overviews of some of the more key outcomes of recent research, and a video series on specific subtopics that have actionable implications for the classroom.

Those who make frequent use of the tool can even create an account and save individual resources in the “My Tiles” feature of the page.

What do educators think of the new resource?

“Dr. Matt Doyle, Interim Superintendent for Vista Unified School District, told us that he turned to resources from the Special Education Practices topic page to quickly share with his colleagues as they were discussing how to effectively support diverse learners in their district,” Cator said. “He’s also interested in working with the district’s teachers to use the map to support their curriculum mapping, to help them explore new topics and resources to deepen their thinking and planning.”

Dr. David Dockterman, a professor of the Harvard Technology and Innovation in Education program, she said, has also introduced the Research Map to his graduate students as a resource.

With papers such as “A Framework for Designing Scaffolds That Improve Motivation and Cognition” and “The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions” in the catalog, it’s not hard to see how this resource could be useful for teachers and researchers alike.

At a time in which many are seeking to adapt their practice to new methodologies and technologies, academic research is an important tool. Digital Promise’s Research Map is a great option for educators looking for relevant resources.

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