Conducting Literature Review

A very brief overview

About Me
– Dr. Merza Abbas – Assoc. Prof. – Chairman of Graduate Studies, Centre for Instructional Technology & Multimedia –,

• Best Thesis/Dissertation Awards
– USM : – META: Ibrahim Jbeili (2004) Hamidah Maidinsah (2004)

Tumpang syok sahaja

Ibrahim’s Award

Why do a master degree?
• To do a better job
– To teach better: more effectively, more efficiently, more productively, etc… – To improve the quality of learning

• To move to better jobs • Because it is exciting, challenging, etc…
– Because it’s there

Why do a master degree?
• To do a PHD, to be a researcher • To acquire “constructive” knowledge as well as “destructive” knowledge • To learn to deconstruct and/or reconstruct knowledge (how do you know what you know is correct?) • No real applications except for a PHD or in a research environment

What is a graduate program?
PHD Master Grad. Dip/ Prof. exams Bachelor Diploma Critical review of paradigms: Accept when irrefutable Critical review of theories: Accept when “proven” More skills & theories: Accept w/o question Skills & theories: Accept w/o question Skills: Accept w/o question

Structure of Academic thinking

P R E S C R I P T I V E Res.

D E S C R I P T I V E Res.




Structure of Scientific Revolution (Kuhn, 1970)
Master programs Paradigm Normal Science


New Paradigm

New Normal Science

More Anomalies Doctoral Programs

Another new Paradigm

Objectivist Paradigm
Theory Behaviourist Focus: Mastery of content/skills through conditioning and use of Mental processes extrinsic “motivational”processes are predictable: External factors through accumulation of sub-skills can change and sub-procedures internal processes through activation of mental processes such as schemas, strategies, & metacognition

Cybernetic Cognitive

Constructivist Paradigm
Theory Mental Development Humanist Social learning Focus: reasoning skills & science process skills through inquiry and solving real-life problems Mental processes are not predictable: Knowledge meaningful & through is private & is personally purposeful learning constructed through scaffolding, cooperative/collaborative learning,

What is a thesis/dissertation?
• Report of a scholarly investigation
– Proof of theory-practice mastery – Genuine & Original thought/argument

• Document to pass a sentence
– Verify/fine-tune theories, models, practice – Reject/Debunk paradigms, theories, models

What is in a thesis/dissertation?
• Chapter 1: Introduction
– Problem Statement – Research Questions – Hypotheses, etc

• • • •

Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter

2: Literature Review 3: Research Methodology 4: Results / Data Analysis 5: Discussion & Conclusions

Skills for Research & Thesis Writing Draw & apply reasonable conclusions
Organize & analyze expt. data Plan & conduct controlled expt. Generate logical predictions Recognize & state Alt. H & Theories Sense & state causal question Describe nature accurately

Dari Lawson (1995)

Literature Review
• • • • What is it? What is it for? Where do we start? How do we do it?

• How do we know we’ve done a good job? • Worked example(s)

– Quantitative research – Qualitative research

Literature Review: M.Ed. Evaluation Form
• Perkaitan Sumber yang disoroti dengan masalah kajian. • Terdapat teori/model untuk menyokong masalah kajian. • Sumber yang disoroti adalah terkini dan mencakupi skop kajian.

What is it?
• High quality overview
– Clarity, Flow, Relevance, Recency, Empirical focus, Independence

• With technically accurate citations and references
– List all articles cited in text, – Cite all articles listed in reference – Use the APA standard.

What is it for?
• Support for ideas in Chapter 1 • Elaboration of ideas in Chapter 1 • Reference for discussion and conclusions in Chapter 5
– Must be thorough, exhaustive, & up-todate

Where do we start?
– – – – –

• Choose a paradigm • Problem Statement (3-5 pages: tentative cause & effect statements)
Problems = anomalies Choose a suitable theory/model Identify Independent Variables (IV) Identify Dependent Variables (DV) Identify Moderator Variables (MV)

• Write clear Research Questions

• Derive a Title from the Research Questions • Tip: RQ = Summary of Problem Statement

– How will the IVs affect the DVs among the MVs? – Develop the Hypotheses

Information Processing Model
Learning: process of E Encoding and decoding N Stimuli/Knowledge items V into meaningful structures I Response Muscles R using various cognitive Generator O strategies
N M E N T Senses Sensory Register Executive Control Motivation

Short Term/ Working Memory

Long Term Memory

Piaget’s theory
• Learning: process of resolving cognitive conflicts

Existing Schema in equilibrium New Information causes disequilibrium



New Schema in equilibrium

How do we do it?
• Expand from the Title • Expand from the Research Questions • Expand from the Problem Statement • Take note of the
– Academic Pecking Order – Sources of Knowledge – Who else has done this, in what paradigm, with what subjects, & with what results: go to ASKERIC, Google, etc. – Expand concepts to content outline – Use cause and effect structure

Tip: Hypotheses are summaries for Lit. Review.

The Academic Pecking Order
Innovators Developers Reporters Students No name dropping, padding Please!

Sources of Knowledge
• • • • • Experience Authority Deductive Reasoning Inductive Reasoning Scientific Thinking/Research (Empirical studies)

Inductive Reasoning
Begins with specific observations Detects patterns & forms Forms tentative hypotheses to test Concludes with a new theory
Dari Sopiah Abdullah (2004)

Scientific Thinking

Deductive Reasoning
Begins with a theory that explains an event forms hypotheses to test Collects data/ observations to test H’thesis Confirms original theory

How do you know you’ve done a good job?
• Does the review support every hypothesis? • Does the review support Chapter 5? • Up-to-date, thorough, exhaustive, original? • Can be turned into a book / a monograph?

Tuckman’s (1999) criteria
• • • • • • • Context Magnitude (number of references) How empirical & up-to-date Connectedness to the problem Well-organized? Establish significance? Convincing argument?

Let’s try an example
• • • • • Paradigm Variables Research Questions Title Literature Review Outline

How to improve learning?

Thank you

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