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ISM: Literature search, critical writing & reading
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ISM: Literature search, critical writing & reading


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  • Up until now you have been presented with the reading to do for the courseWhat has happened before – the historical context
  • There is no evidence as yet for these theories, they are in fact assumptionsThe context creates parameters – limiting the extent of the research and also, when writing up limiting the transferability of the findings and conclusions
  • Where on the scale was your writing for your rationale?Can you justify it?What do you think you need to change for this assignment?
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Literature ReviewCritical reading & writing Independent Study Module 2012-13
    • 2. Purpose of a literature review• You as a researcher engaging with the field• Contextualises where your research fits: contextual framework• Demonstrates you are familiar with the field• Demonstrates your scholarship ability to reflect, evaluate and write critically and analytically (Sharp 2012. p.27-28)
    • 3. Theory & theoretical frameworks• ‘a set of interrelated abstract propositions about human affairs and the social world that explain their regularities and relationships’ (Brewer 2000, p.192)• ‘theory at the lowest level can be an ad hoc classification system, consisting of categories which organise and summarise empirical observations’ (Bowling 2002, p.139).• ‘It can be a taxonomy which is a descriptive categorical system constructed to fit the empirical observations in order to describe the relationships between categories’ (Bowling 2002, p. 140).• Simply ‘refer(s) to the current state of knowledge in a subject derived from the published literature – what Wolcott (1992, p. 3– 52) described as ‘theory first’ rather than ‘theory after’. ‘ (Bell 2010, p.105) Paraphrased from Bell 2010. p.105
    • 4. Theoretical/ contextual FrameworkExample:• In design and technology why are pupils in key stage 2 more creative than those in key stage 3?What are the theories behind this question?• Creativity is important in D&T• Creativity is more evident in key stage 2 (KS2) than key stage 3 (KS3)• Potentially in a drop in achievement in D&T between KS2 & KS3What is the context?• Design and Technology lessons• Year 6 in key stage 2 and year 7 in key stage 3Concepts/ definitions:• Creativity• Creativity in D&T – what does it look like• Role of the teacher in developing pupils’ creativity (Hardy 2004)
    • 5. Theoretical/ contextual FrameworkExample:• How are gifted and talented pupils engaged in design and technology?What are the theories behind this question?• It is important for G&T pupils to be engaged in D&T• G&T pupils need to be engaged in ways which are different to other pupils• G&T pupils are not currently been engaged in D&TWhat is the context?• Design and Technology lessons• Key stage 3 or key stage 4 – TBDConcepts/ definitions• Gifted and talented• Engagement: in learning? In lessons? In careers? In options?
    • 6. No clear concepts?• When acceptable conceptual definitions are not available, concept synthesis of concept analysis needs to be performed in order to develop the definitione.g. literacy in D&T dyslexia in D&TPossible concept:• Literacy in lessons where practical work is carried out – how is this taught and developed?
    • 7. Critical review of the literatureUse references to:• Justify and support your arguments• Allow you to make comparisons with other research;• Express matters better than you could have done;• Demonstrate your familiarity with your field of research. (Blaxter 1996 in Bell 1999. p.92)
    • 8. Theory in binsTheory building relies on a few general constructs thatsubsume a mountain of particulars. Terms such as ‘stress’ or‘role conflict’ are typically labels we put on bins containing alot of discrete events and behaviours. When we assign a labelto a bin, we may or may not know how all the contents of thebin fit together, or how this bin relates to another. But anyresearcher, no matter how inductive in approach, knowswhich bins to start with and what their general contents arelikely to be. Bins come from theory and experience and(often) from the general objectives of the study envisioned.Laying out those bins, giving each a descriptive or inferentialname, and getting some clarity about their interrelationshipsis what a conceptual framework is all about. Miles and Huberman 1994 in Bell 2010, p. 106 )
    • 9. Critical reading• Don’t just take notes• How reliable a source is this?• Does this fit with what you already know?• Does it contradict other evidence?
    • 10. Practical task: Subjectivity & ObjectivityUsing the STEM paper from last week:• Try and identify words that make it emotive/ and or opinionated I the literature review section, perhaps underlining these words Adapted from Judge, Jones and McCreery 2009This task helps you identify words which show theauthor/s opinion and therefore how they have usedtheir reading to support their views.
    • 11. What critical thinking/ analysis/writing reveals about you• willing to question your views;• open to the ideas and views of others;• just because something is in print does not mean it is true;• able to give your (positive and negative) judgements;• able to explore the implications of the evidence/literature;• self-confident enough to explore the evidence presented;• honest in facing your own biases/prejudices;• flexible in considering alternatives and opinions;• willing to reconsider and revise views where honest reflection suggests that change is warranted. Judge, Jones and McCreery 2009. p.44
    • 12. Reviewing your writingPersonal writing Academic writingEmotional LogicalCan be intuitive Uses reasoningActive voice: ‘I find that…’ Passive voice: ‘It was found that…’Anecdotal Uses evidenceSubjective ObjectiveTangents may be important Keeps to logical sequence Wisker, 2009
    • 13. Critical review of a peer reviewed journal article• A short critical review should have a brief introduction, simply providing the subject of the research and the author, and outlining the structure you will be using.• The simplest way to structure a critical review is to write a paragraph or two about each section of the study in turn. Within your discussion of each section, you should first sum up the main points such as the key findings, or methodology used, to show your understanding.• After this, you could present the strengths and weaknesses, as you see them, of the section, with an explanation of your thinking, and evidence.
    • 14. Critical review of a peer reviewed journal article• You should point out the strengths of the study to show you are aware of their importance, as in: – ‘These results are consistent with the aims of the research...’ – ‘The findings are clearly presented using diagrams and a graph...’ – ‘The discussion consistently relates the key findings to research discussed earlier...’• When you identify weaknesses, you should use a cautious, objective style. You can use such phrases as: – ‘This sample seems fairly small in view of...’ – ‘It might have been helpful to provide more details of...’ – ‘There is no explanation for the absence of any literature after 2003. It would have been useful to know why this was the case.’ Adapted from Queen Margaret University 2012
    • 15. ReferencesBELL, J., 1999. Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education and socialscience. 3rd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.BELL, J., 2010. Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education, health andsocial science. 5th ed. Maidenhead, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill Open University Press.HARDY, A., 2004. Questioning styles: observations of differences in practice at key stage 2 and key stage3. In: Design and Technology Conference Sheffield, 2004. DATA.JUDGE, B., MCCREERY, E. and JONES, P., 2009. Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students. [online].SAGE Publications. Available from: (Accessed 13 January 2013)QUEEN MARGARET UNIVERSITY, 2012. Planning a Critical Review. Available from: (Accessed 13 January 2013)SHARP, J., 2012. Success with your education research project [online]. Learning Matters. Availablefrom: 13 January 2013)WISKER, G. 2009. The undergraduate research handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.