Education: History and Philosophy of Education Research Guide

Reference Materials
Electronic Books
Materials from Other Libraries
Writing and Style Guides


This guide introduces you to some information sources that may be useful as you research topics on the history or philosophy of education.  In most cases the online resources mentioned in this guide are accessible by University of Lethbridge students, faculty and staff from on- and off-campus.  If you have difficulty accessing electronic resources from off-campus, please check our Troubleshooting Guide.  For further assistance please consult an Information Services Desk staff member through Ask Us, or contact Yayo Umetsubo, the Education subject librarian at (403) 329-2273 or

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Reference Materials

Reference materials such as encyclopedias, dictionaries and handbooks can be helpful to define important concepts or to gather factual background information pertaining to your research topic. The following are selected encyclopedias and dictionaries covering topics in the history and/or philosophy of education located in the Library's Reference Collection (Level 10 East) or online:

Encyclopedia of education
LB 15 E47 2003 (8 volumes; also available online)

Foundations of educational thought
LB 14.7 F68 2008 (4 volumes)

International handbook of educational policy
LC 71 I58 2005 (2 volumes)

Philosophy of education
LB 17 P485 1996 (also available online)

A source book of Royal Commissions and other major governmental inquiries in Canadian education, 1787-1978
LA 411 G68

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The Library's Main Collection contains many books you may sign out that address topics in the history or philosophy of education.  You can browse a selection of these titles in the Library catalogue covering various issues relating to this topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.  Among this selection are the following recently published titles:

A call to action: an introduction to education, philosophy, and native North America
E 97 M34 2008

Early feminists and the education debates: England, France, Germany, 1760-1810
LC 197 S67 2007

Ethical visions of education: philosophies in practice
LB 41 E777 2007

History, education, and the schools
LA 212 R42 2007

Oxford handbook of philosophy of education
LB 14.7 O93 2008

Theory and practice of education
LB 14.7 T87 2007

The trouble with theory: the educational costs of postmodernism
LB 2322.2 K58 2008

Values for educational leadership
LB 2806 H38 2007

Why do we educate? : renewing the conversation
LB 5 N25 107th, pt. 1

Occasionally you may identify a potentially useful item in the Library catalogue that is not immediately available to you.  Here are some common situations in which this may occur, and what you can do to obtain the item:

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Electronic Books

Although most of the Library's circulating books are available in print format in the Main Collection, the Library also has a growing collection of more than 30,000 e-books covering a wide array of subjects in its Electronic Resource collection.  You can browse a selection of e-books on the history or philosophy of educational thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the Library catalogue.  A sampling of e-book titles on this topic that may be of interest include the following:

Education, philosophy and the ethical environment

Anarchism and education: a philosophical perspective

Fifty major thinkers on education: from Confucius to Dewey

Fifty modern thinkers on education: from Piaget to the present day

Freirean pedagogy, praxis, and possibilities

An introduction to philosophy of education

Key concepts in the philosophy of education

Lessons from history of education

Lifelong learning in action: transforming education in the 21st century

Making sense of education: an introduction to the philosophy and theory of education and teaching

Marxism and educational theory

Methods in philosophy of education

Public or private education? lessons from history

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To find journal articles on topics pertaining to the history or philosophy of education, browse the indexes and databases listed under the subject areas of Education or Philosophy.  The two major indexes covering the disciplinary areas of Education and Philosophy are ERIC and Philosopher's Index.

ERIC (via Ebsco)

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) is the largest online index covering the research and professional literature of education.  It is sponsored by the Institute of Education Societies and the U.S. Department of Education.  ERIC is accessible via a variety of search platforms including the free service from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as licensed versions from CSA Illumina, Ebsco, and WilsonWeb.

If keyword searching produces too few, too many, or mostly irrelevant results, try using ERIC's Thesaurus (tab at the top of the page; in some search platforms found under Search Tools).  The Thesaurus can help you find precise descriptors (subject terms) that best match the key concepts relating to your topic or issue of interest.

For example, if your topic is "ethics in education theory and practice," in ERIC (via Ebsco):

  1. Go to the Thesaurus, type "ethics" into the Browsing ERIC -- Thesaurus textbox, select Relevancy Ranked, and click Browse
  2. You should see Ethics listed as the first result; click the checkbox beside this descriptor and click Add (at the top of your page DE "Ethics" should appear in the search box)
  3. In the Thesaurus textbox type "education theory" and click Browse
  4. You should now see "Educational Theories" as the first result, along with other potentially related descriptors; click the checkbox beside this descriptor and click Add (your search box at the top of the page should now contain (DE "Ethics") and (DE "Educational Theories"))
  5. Click Search (beside your search box) to execute the search and display your results.
  6. If you wish, limit your results to scholarly journals, or to a particular range of publication years.
  7. To search for the other half of your topic, "education practice and ethics," repeat steps 1 to 6, substituting "education practice" for "education theory".

Philosopher's Index

Philosopher's Index is the key resource for conducting research on topics involving philosophical concepts and issues.  It is produced by the Philosopher's Information Center and is available to University of Lethbridge students and staff via the CSA llumina search platform. 

If keyword searching produces too few, too many, or mostly irrelevant results, try using the Descriptors Index which contains subject headings representing the main content of indexed items.  The Descriptors Index is not a thesaurus, but does allow you to search alphabetically for concepts within your topic statement to see if there are any close matches.

For example, if your topic is "the nature of scientific knowledge in education theory," in Philosopher's Index:

  1. Go to Search Tools, and select the Indexes tab
  2. From the - Select an Index - dropdown menu choose Descriptors Index; type "scientific knowledge" in the Search the Index search box and click Go
  3. Browse the list of descriptors and click the checkbox beside any that seem relevant (e.g., select scientific knowledge, scientific method, scientific philosophy and scientific reasoning)
  4. Click Search (accepting the default "or" connector is fine, because the selected descriptors express interconnected ideas; you should now see the results of searching these four descriptors)
  5. Go back to the Descriptors Index to search for "education theory"
  6. You have now executed 2 separate searches using descriptors.  To see the results of both, click the History/Combine Searches tab; to find out whether any results in set #1 are also in set #2, click the checkboxes beside both sets, then choose AND and click Combine.

Obtaining articles:  In most of the Library's subscribed online indexes if  your search results do not contain links to the full-text of articles and documents, you will contain a Find Full Text button or text link that executes a search across all of the Library's print and online resources to see if the item you selected is owned or licensed by the Library. 

When Find Full Text does not locate the item you need, you can select Interlibrary Loan Request if you want the Library to try to obtain a copy from another library.  You will then see a request form you need to fill out.  You will be contacted by email when your requested item has arrived, or if the Library is not able to fill your request. 

When you wish to obtain items listed in indexes that do not offer the Find Full Text button/link, you can determine whether the Library owns those items by searching:

If you do not find items you need in the Library Catalogue, you may submit interlibrary loan requests by completing the appropriate request forms.

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Materials from Other Libraries

The Articles section, above, describes how you may request materials you need after discovering them in index databases.  In fact you may discover relevant materials not owned by the Library through a variety of resources or individuals who may recommend particular titles.  You may also wish to search the catalogues of other libraries to identify relevant materials held by other libraries. 

If you identify needed materials at the Lethbridge Public Library or Lethbridge College, we ask that you go to those libraries and use your TAL (The Alberta Library) card, which you can obtain/update at the Library's General Services Desk (main service desk next to the Library entrance) to borrow them.

The Library will attempt to obtain or acquire copies of research materials not available in the Library or at other libraries in Lethbridge that are needed by University of Lethbridge students, faculty and staff.  This service, called Interlibrary Loans, requires you to have valid, current Library privileges, and works best if you submit requests at least 7 to 10 days in advance of the date by which you need the materials.

Check the Interlibrary Loans: Borrowing Guidelines page for information on what may be borrowed, by whom, how many requests may be submitted, how long you may have to wait to receive requested materials, and how to obtain requested materials when they become available.

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Your research project or assignment may involve selecting and evaluating particular types of information.   You may find the following guides useful:

Here are some ways to determine whether a journal is peer-reviewed or not:

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Writing and Style Guides

For tips on annotating, critiquing or summarizing research you have read, see the Library's guide on Annotations, Abstracts, Critiques and Executive Summaries.

For guidance on citing your sources in research papers, see the Library's guide on Citing Sources.

You may wish to use EndNote to manage your information sources and prepare your reference list or bibliography in APA format.  Information is available on how to download the EndNote program and use it.

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Please do not hesitate to ask for help if you have difficulty finding or using information sources you require.  You can do so:

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 Maintained by
 Content Revised: October 2, 2014
 Content Created: January 21, 2010

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