What people learn about how people learn: An analysis of citation behavior and the multidisciplinary flow of knowledge

We explore the contention that the seminal US National Academies consensus report,How People Learn(HPL),played a major role in bridging the flow of knowledge from Cognitive Science to Education. Our paper yielded four important results: First, HPL is, on a number of bibliometric measures, an unusually interdisciplinary work.Focusing on the fields of particular interest here, our citation analysis shows the Education, Cognitive Science,and Borderfield (e.g., Educational Psychology, Learning Sciences, and Learning Technology and Human-Computer Interaction) literatures all to have been major influences on it. Second, we found HPL to be unusually highly cited–and by publications from an unusually diverse set of disciplines. Beyond Education, Cognitive Science, and Border field publications, HPL was also relatively highly cited by publications in Medical/Health-related, Engineering, and other Discipline-Based Education Research fields. Third, undermining the claim that HPL served as a gateway to the Cognitive Science literature, we found Education articles citing HPL not to be more likely to have Cognitive Science as a major influence than are Education articles more generally, as in-dicated by their cited references. Finally, the Education publications that cited HPL were far more likely to refer to concepts in HPL that were already prevalent in the Education literature rather than to concepts from Cognitive Science. Conversely, the Cognitive Science publications that cited HPL were more apt to refer to concepts already in the Cognitive Science literature. Taken together, these results are a caution that, even for a highly regarded multidisciplinary work cited widely by publications from multiple disciplines, its direct influence could be largely disciplinary. Implications for the policy goals of fostering interdisciplinary research and the role of National Academies consensus reports are discussed.


Author(s): Gregg E. A. Solomon, Jan Youtie, Stephen Carley, Alan L. Porter  
Organization(s): National Science Foundation, Georgia Institute of Technology                                                                                                        
Source: Research Policy                                                                                       
Year: 2019

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