Eating your veggies – and reading your handbooks

Written by: Josh Rosenberg

Primary Source: Joshua Rosenberg

Luke Rapa described in a 2012 ideaplay post some of the things research handbooks “do”:

  • Articulate the history(ies) of our discipline, demonstrating the evolution of significant ideas and scholarship over time
  • Highlight various, and often conflicting perspectives about issues that are central to our field, while encouraging us to wrestle with any tension that remains
  • Introduce us to new scholars, helping us learn both who the leading voices are and what those voices have to say
  • Initiate us into the world of academic inquiry, or at least part of it, offering exemplary work that we can review, scrutinize, and strive to emulate
  • Guide current investigation, pointing us and our fellow researchers toward unanswered questions and unresolved issues

These are great points. I thought about this the other day in terms of eating your veggies — it is not something we always like to do (reading a handbook chapter is often the last thing I think to do) but it’s a good practice.

There is a new edition coming soon, but I have been slowly combing through the Handbook of Educational Psychology (2nd ed.) and have been continually amazed by how little I know about our field — and how much I am learning. The other handbook I have been combing through is on the educational technology side of my program, the Handbook of Educational Communications and Technology (3rd ed.). Both of these handbooks provided general, comprehensive overviews of educational psychology and educational technology, respectively. Both of these are also prohibitively expensive (with the exception of the earlier editions, which can be useful but also not up-to-date in terms of history and important issues), and so I borrowed them from the library.

There are also more specific handbooks, such as (there is also a new edition coming soon) the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators, the International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change (2nd ed.), and the International Handbook of Collaborative LearningThese are less general and comprehensive, and more targeted toward specific topics (such as TPACK) or problems/issues (such as how students change their understandings). These can sometimes be unavailable at the library, but are available through interlibrary loan.

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Joshua M. Rosenberg is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University. In his research, Joshua focuses on how social and cultural factors affect teaching and learning with technologies, in order to better understand and design learning environments that support learning for all students. Joshua currently serves as the associate chair for the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Special Interest Group in the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. Joshua was previously a high school science teacher, and holds degrees in education (M.A.) and biology (B.S.).