Adult & Higher Education Research Guide: Overview

This is a guide designed to assist students in the Adult & Higher Education graduate program in finding information sources.



A few things to keep in mind as an AHE student

  • Whether you do research on or off-campus, we can usually get you the research materials you will need.
  • Librarians are happy to help, it is what we do! Contact us using the information on the right.
  • We provide citation assistance in addition to finding article and books.

Orientation to library resources

Video includes audio

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How to find peer-reviewed education articles video

Access the video through this link. The video is 15 minutes long and I recommend viewing it in full screen mode.

How to find articles by citation

Often you will come accross citations for articles that might be of interest to you. These might be found in another article or book you are reading and you want to find more sources on the same topic as that article or book. As an example here we will use one from the bibliography for A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice, by Jennifer Moon. The citation is

Ertmer, P. and Newby, T. (1996) 'The expert learner: strategic, self-regulated and reflective', Instructional Science, 24, 1-24.

The easiest way to find citation is usually through Google Scholar. In the education field this is because Google Scholar is able to pull in the data from the free government education database ERIC. If you are doing your research from off-campus be sure to set up Google Scholar to connect to WWU subscriptions first. You can do so in a few quick steps

To look up the article copy and past the article title into the search (not the journal title). If the title is somewhat generic, consider adding one of the last names of the authors to the search. In the example from above I would simply put in "The expert learner: strategic, self-regulated and reflective". The article I am looking for is right at the top of the list.

If you actually want to get the full text of the article, be sure to use the PDF or Findit@WWU links (note: Findit@WWU will show up when on campus automatically, but you need to follow the steps linked to above to get it working on computers off-campus).

There are other tools that are useful in Google Scholar as well, such as the "Cited by" and "Cite" features. Keep in mind, though, that the information in those features is auto-generated, so use them with caution. "Cited by" gives you a good idea of how many other articles and books have cited the source, which sometimes indicates how important the article have been in the field. The "Cite" feature will generate a formatted reference list citation.

When using Findit you will be directed to a login page. Always use the student login link.

You will then be directed to a page where you can get subscription access.

Subject Guide

Librarian for Woodring

Sylvia Tag's picture
Sylvia Tag
The Western Libraries

Office: Wilson Library 272

Phone: 360.650.7992


Research links

Other useful resources

Find an answer or ask a question here

Core databases

More databases

Education Article Search

Education Databases

Searching: Academic Search Complete, Educational Administration
Abstracts, ERIC, Teacher Reference Center

Google Scholar

Search Google Scholar for scholarly articles and books. You can see what item are in Western Libraries be setting Scholar Preference Library Links to Western Washington University.

Subject Guide

Policy research

Quick links to policy sources

Subject Guide

Research methods

Core Databases

Find an answer to a question


This page has been put together for the Winter 2014 CCE/AHE 501 Introduction to Research Methods in Education course. If you have a question that the videos below do not address please let me know!

ERIC for research methods searching (ProQuest)

Video tutorial on searching ERIC

Taking advantage of limiters: PsycINFO

Mentoring & Advising

A Two-Pronged Approach

Doing literature research on mentoring and advising can have two different approaches. One which is more exploratory and the other which is more defined and constructed. This guide will show these two strategies in the videos to the right and how they might be employed in the subscription version of ERIC WWU gets through Ebsco.

  • First, we will look at a controlled search for theories and concepts that explain student needs or characteristics (e.g., Tinto’s theory of student integration into an organizational culture)
  • Next, we will look at a exploratory search for examples of effective procedures or practices related to mentoring/advising (e.g., a report on student outcomes in an innovative mentoring program)

Core Databases

Controlled searching

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Exploratory searching

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Defining a peer reviewed journal article

AHE E-Learning: Goto 2015

Introduction to the videos for AHE E-learning

The following videos, all under 5 minutes each, describe how to find peer-reviewed articles and other resources based on theory, human subjects research, and for applied instructional purposes. Most of the videos focus on the ERIC database that Western subscribes to through Ebsco. However, it is worth keeping in mind that ERIC through ProQuest also provides the same access to articles and the free version of the ERIC has the same resource index, though it will not have the same access to the full text of resources. I have chosen to demonstrate these searches in Ebsco because many students are familiar with the layout, but the same concepts apply to the other version of ERIC and even other educational databases.

One of the videos describes the characteristics of a peer-reviewed article, but some of you may be interested in how those articles differ from other types of sources. There is a table describing this in our online question and answer service here.

Finding peer-reviewed articles by theory in ERIC required assignment

This is a short video on how use the ERIC database to explore educational theory sources related to e-learning and limit sources to peer-reviewed journals. It also includes brief guidance on how to access the subscription version of ERIC through Ebsco.

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Finding peer-reviewed articles by assigned topic required assignment

This is a short video on how to locate peer-reviewed articles on a topic in the Ebsco version of ERIC.

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Finding peer-reviewed articles by assigned topic, applied in instruction, required assignment

This short video describes how to locate peer-reviewed articles by topic for applied instructional purposes.

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Finding media and web sources optional assignments

This is a short video examining approaches to finding media recordings or web-based resources related to a particular population or topic.

The Creative Commons resource search can be accessed here.

Coursera can be accessed here.

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Research Databases

Core Databases


Librarian for Education

Sylvia Tag's picture
Sylvia Tag
The Western Libraries

Office: Wilson Library 272

Phone: 360.650.7992


Related Guides

Citations and research management


APA workshops are offered at the off-site locations, on the Bellingham campus, and online.  If you would like to suggest a time for a workshop please contact Gabe using the contact information to the right.

APA presentation recording, handouts, and a template

Click on the image below to launch the presentation. You may want to also open the APA Practice Sheet for the workshop, linked below, if you are going to practice formatting citations. The recorded presentation is 22.5 minutes.


Click this image to launch the presentation recording

Zotero for research management

Manage your research and citations with Zotero. More information on using Zotero at WWU here.

Subject Guide

Questions and answers

Submit a question

Search the Western Libraries answers knowledgebase

Subject Guide

Research & Writing Studio

Foundations: Article in a tradition


This page includes a video addressing the step 2 portion of the "Expanding the Canon" assignment for Stan Goto's fall, 2014, Foundations of Adult Education and Diversity course. The assignment asks students to:

STEP 2: Find a contemporary peer-reviewed journal article from an author who fits in the philosophical tradition (but who is NOT cited in our textbooks). This will require you to do a database search via the WWU library website. (Instructions to follow.)  You are encouraged to discuss and share articles with your group members, but I would like each member to choose a different article.  Your article should:

  • Be explicitly aligned with the assigned philosophy. (In other words, the author says in so many words that she/he supports this philosophy)
  • Advocate for some principles/practices that are consistent with this philosophical tradition as described in Elias and Merriam
  • Advocate for other principles/practices that are distinctly different than those described by Elias and Merriam
  • Be less than 10 years old

Tutorial on finding an article in a tradition