Module 8: Describing Your Methodology

Your methodology is an important part of your review because if verifies the exhaustive research that you used as a basis for your analysis.

You need to explain to your reader how you located your sources; what you used to decide which of your discovered should be further examined; the procedures you used to analyze your sources; and the criteria you used. 

The parts of the methodology are thoroughly discussed on the Methodology Assignment page.

The Methodology is one of the parts in your literature review where you can write in the first person.  You can say "I used ERIC and Education Abstract to search for relevant resources."

How to Write a Methodology

This 9-minute video reviews the parts of a methodology and explores 4 example methodologies.


Here is a link to the Methodology Examples reviewed in the video.

Module 7: Using APA to Write a Lit Review and How to Write the Introduction

You know what to write, now you need to explore how to write it. This module will provide some guidance on how to write a literature review. It will discuss the content and the writing techniques that you should use to create a successful review. (NOTE: This video talks about "research questions" - in our class we are discussing "research themes." We try to answer Research Questions. Research Themes are used to organize discussions about what is being researched in specific fields.
Writing Using APA Format
You may be tired of reading about writing in APA format.  You have a whole book filled with that information, don't you?  Here are 2 great videos that you should spend less than 15 minutes watching. They deal with citing references and how to write the references on the References page. Not exciting but informative. You will also fin the  Enjoy.
    Writing an Introduction
    The Introduction is the most important part of your review.  This is where you create the framework for your review by describing the area of study you will be reviewing, why it is important, and what can be done with the results. It is where you build a foundation by defining necessary terms and introducing the trend(s) that you will be discussing in your review.

    These areas need to be addressed.  They don't need to be in this order, but they all need to be presented in a manner that is logical and persuasive: 
    • State the purpose of the paper (literature review)
    • Identify the importance of the problem
    • Define the scope of the review
    • Explain why this analysis is appropriate
    • Suggest how the review could be applied
    • List and define terms that the reader should understand to make sense of your review
    • List the research themes you found (typically 2 – 4)

    • How to Create an Introduction video - Dr. Z explains how you can best write your introduction. He steps you through the parts of an introduction and provides examples to follow. (8 minutes)

    • One-Theme Literature Review Template - This is a template for your 10-page literature review. You can download it from here or from the Course Content folder in our eLearning site.  Clicking this link will ask you to make a copy of the Google Doc. 
    Writing a Paragraph
    Some people don't understand how to create a paragraph. You have a topic sentence that describes the content of the paragraph and the rest of the sentences address that topic. You all seemed to have mastered creating a paragraph, but I thought you might enjoy what I found.
    • Paragraph Writing Song by Heath - Catchy song that tells you how to write a paragraph. It's a little simplistic for our style of writing, but it provides a good foundation. English and elementary teachers -  it looks like this is a whole series of songs. (1.5 minutes).
    • To Write a Paragraph song - Is another sing-along, but not as informative. (1 minute)

    Module 7: Lit Review Organizational Overview

    Before you can write a literature review, it would be helpful to have an understanding of a literature review's components. This overview begins by providing a narrative of these components and then an outline of the important parts of each section.

    The Literature Review Overview

    The department requirement for the Master of Arts in Education may be met through completion of a scholarly review. The purpose of such a review is to identify and develop a better understanding of a problem by analyzing information from appropriate sources.

    Conditions under which a review is especially useful will include the following:

    • When research and scholarly works related to a specific problem appear to present ambiguous or conflicting results, and there is a need to select a most likely means to solve a problem.
    • When published research and scholarly works related to a problem area appear in isolated and varied disciplines, and there is a need to discover the contributions from within each discipline in order to use them in the solution of a specific problem.
    • When you have identified a problem which is best resolved by analyzing information usually found in published or related sources.
    • A review shall include the following major components. In addition to the following sections, your paper should also include: title and approval pages (samples attached), a table of contents, an abstract, and a bibliography/list of references. Other divisions and subsections may be included.

    Your literature review will be composed of 4 sections. The following paragraphs explain what is included in each section. An outline is also included at the end of this document.*

    Describe the problem which the review will help resolve and indicate why an analysis of existing information is appropriate for addressing this problem. The introduction should also present the importance of the problem, the scope of the review, and how the results of the review might be applied. The problem may be made specific by presenting one or more trend for which the review will provide answers.

    Explain the method of identifying and locating sources, the rationale for selecting the sources to analyze, the procedures to be used in analyzing the sources, and the criteria for evaluating the information found. 

    Analysis and Discussion
    Present evidence and ideas summarized from the sources analyzed. This review is driven by the problem presented, and by sub-topics related to that problem. Therefore, individual sources are to be reviewed, not as isolated entities, but with attention to the contribution they make to the topic under discussion. Information based on personal experience, observations, or interviews may be included as a means of clarifying questions, exemplifying research conclusions, or as a source of new information. The source and limitations of such supplementary information should be clearly stated. An evaluation of the quality or adequacy of the related sources may also be included. This evaluation may relate to individual works, or to characteristics of several investigations available on a specific topic. This review, then, is a result of a search for the information which will provide the most useful answers available for your research topic.

    Conclusions and Recommendations

    Identify and synthesize findings from the analysis as the conclusion of the review. Recommendations for future research, classroom applications, educational policies and procedures, program revision, or other warranted situations should be presented.


    1. Introduction
      1. State the purpose of this literature review
      2. Identify the importance of the problem
      3. Define the scope of the review (e.g., middle school English courses)
      4. Explain why this analysis is appropriate (needed).
      5. Suggest how the results of the review can be applied.
      6. List and define terms that the reader should understand to make sense of your review. (cite the source of each definition)
    2. Methodology 
      1. Explain the method you used for identifying and locating your source.
        1. Include the databases and search terms used. Put your search terms in italics to make them stand out.
      2. Explain your rationale for selection sources
      3. Explain the procedures used to analyze your sources.
      4. Identify your criteria for evaluating information found and how you determined if it would be used in your review. This might include evaluating the author, journal, year of publication, citations, etc.
    3. Analysis and Discussion
      1. Intro paragraph(s) set the framework for this section.
      2. Reintroduce the research question and then describe the themes that you found in your research of the literature. This will provide this section’s basic organization using each of the themes as a subheading.
      3. In each theme,
      4. Intro paragraph – describes the meaning and a couple of sentences about the findings.
      5. Review individual sources, not as isolated entities, but with attention to the contribution they make to the theme.
      6. End with a summary paragraph
    4. Conclusions and Recommendations
      1. Conclusions
        1. Organize using each of the themes you identified at the beginning of the review.
        2. Identify and synthesize findings from the analysis.
          1. Clearly show how the themes are supported or negated.
      2. Recommendations
        1. Future research – required
        2. Additional recommendations – Select the relevant ones.
        3. Classroom applications
        4. Educational policies and procedures
        5. Program revision

    Module 6: Outlining Your Content

    Now that you have begun your research, it is time to envision how it will all fit together to present your review to your readers.   

    The most efficient way to organize your thoughts is usually through an outline. (It could also be done through a graphic representation of this but you would have to base it upon the linear outline format that is being presented here.) This outline is designed to organize your formative information in a structure that will easily transfer into the UNI Instructional Technology Masters Literature Review template.

    The template is self-explanatory, but here are a few hints that you should consider before you begin outlining your review:

    1. This outline is NOT the final document on your review's structure.  It is a snapshot of how you envision it based upon your present level of research and discovery.  It will evolve as you continue to research.
    2. The title is a working title.  It will probably change as you move along.
    3. You are asked to identify 3 research themes. These themes are meant to provide direction.  Remember that you are organizing existing research in the field so it may turn out that your questions are not being studied by researchers in the field. THEREFORE you will have to change your research questions so that they can be used as organizers for the research that you DO find.
    4. You only have to write about a single theme in your 10-page lit review this semester.  You will find information about the other themes, but they will not be included in this review.
    5. The Analysis and Discussion section of your outline is DIFFERENT than the other parts of your outline. This is where you will be identifying the content of the research you have found. It will not include ALL of the research you will find for this review, but it will provide a framework for your future research.
    6. REVIEW Dr. Z's Dos and Don'ts for Writing Literature Reviews.  I strongly suggest reading it through twice before writing your Lit Review.  Some of these points will stick in the back of your mind and will be helpful sometime in the future.
    Here are a couple resources that you will find useful in completing this outline:
    • Literature Review outline template  (Simplified Version)  Here is a Google Doc template that you can copy and use.  It is significantly simplified from the original outline that was provided. It provides the structure along with some suggestions for how to complete it.
    • There is no Student Sample for the revised outline available.

    Module 5: Researching Your Research Question

    You have begun the writing process using assigned journal articles.  Now it is time for you to find research on your own and analyze it.

    You have been researching all of your life. Some of it has been turning over the rock in the back yard and some has involved extensive time spent on your computer Googling information about new ideas and concepts. But researching involves more than typing nouns and phrases into the Google box.

    The DaVinci Code author, Dan Brown, once pointed out that 'Google' is not a synonym for 'research'.  Google is a tool that can be used for research but it needs to be accomplished in an organized and strategic manner. This module will be the first of a series of modules that will provide information about researching.

    Any craftsperson is only as good as her tools. The search tools that we will be addressing in this course will include UNI's OneSearch and Google Scholar.

    OneSearch provides access to articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers; books; government publications; and other resources such as DVDs. These resources are customized to fit those available through UNI.
    Visit this OneSearch Video Tutorial page. You should watch all 8 videos, but at least the Overview, Scholarly Article, Full Text, and eBook. (You may run into some problems running these videos in Google Chrome on a Mac.  It has something to do with the Microsoft SilverLight extension. Running them through Firefox seemed to work better but I had to reinstall Silverlight again before it ran.)

    Google Scholar is a tool that you can use to research resources. It's easily accessible and has ever-expanding capacities for finding articles and organizing them. Google Scholar should be used more deliberately than your typical Google search. It isn't difficult but there are multiple levels of complexity. Tutorials for Scholar were not available through or Atomic Learning so spend some time reviewing the tutorials that are on the Rod Library website about Google ScholarThere are multiple videos and links.  Please review them all.  The most important part that you need to get from the videos is that you need to change the settings so that Scholar knows that you have access to the Rod Library resources.  The beauty of this is that it will take you directly to all of the databases to which we subscribe.  You probably won't have to pay for any of your articles.

    Using UNI Rod Library from a Distance

    Let me begin by directing you to the Distance Learners link from the Library. I believe that this has been mentioned in previous classes, but perhaps it hasn't been explained deeply enough for your use.

    Go proceed to the Rod Library opening page. Down the left column of the page, you will find Distance Learners in the Information For: section. Click on the Distance Learners option. This will take you to the Distance Learners page adorned by Ellen Neuhaus. Click on her YouTube video to enjoy her introduction.

    KNOW YOUR REFERENCE LIBRARIAN. Ellen and her team of reference librarians are a researcher's best friend. Call them up and they will help you find or direct you towards finding the resources you need to use for your research. Remember that you are not bothering them when you call. They are employed to help you with your searches. Their phone number is 319-273-2838 or 800-207-9410.

    This week you will only be looking for good and not-so-good articles to compare, but this is the beginning of the research journey that you will experience for the rest of your cohort life and hopefully for the rest of your professional life.

    Remember to read Galvan's Chapter 5.

    Module 4: Taking Notes Using an Idea-Based Strategy

    This is a photo of old hands typing on an old typewriter.  Used to relate to the taking notes topic
    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
    How are you doing on your research?  Although identifying your topic, searching databases for relevant articles, and finally selecting your articles can be a grueling process, the toughest part can be taking notes in a way that will facilitate simplify that actual act of writing.

    Note taking is often organized by articles.  This means that all of the information from a single document is written on the same piece of paper or in the same document or in a notetaking table.  This is an Article-Based Strategy towards taking notes.

    A more effective strategy is to organize your notetaking document by content area.  Open a document, create headings that are relevant to your research, and, as you find new information in your reading, enter specific facts under the appropriate headings.  This is an Idea-Based Strategy. 

    I have created a 6-minute video to teach you about using the Idea-Based Strategy.  

    Caveat: I realize that I am talking about emphasizing writing Literature Reviews and am using a subject-based research topic.  I plan to redo that part of the video using a more literature review-ish topic.  I am interested in your opinion of how I created this video.

    I hope that this is useful in your harvesting important ideas and research from your selected articles.


    Module 4: Selecting Your Topic

    Now it's time to select a topic for your paper and then identify the questions you want to answer.

    True, the paper for this class is only 10 pages so you might not think that it is very important. BUT, if you take time and select a topic that truly interests you, you might save yourself a great deal of time later in the program because you can continue with this topic into your final masters paper (if you decide to do a literature review.)

    Selecting your topic is not necessarily easy.  You need to find something that is broad enough to have meaning but not so narrow that there is no research on the topic.

    Too Broad: Using Technology in Education
    Too Narrow: The Effects of Using QR Codes with 3rd Grade Girls with Red Hair.
    Just Right: Effective Methods for Making Learning More Student-Centric Using QR Codes in Elementary Grades.

    Read Chapter 2 in Pan's book. She provides 11 steps in Selecting a Topic for Review.

    Here is a short clip on selecting a topic:

    What Do You Know?
    Once you have an overall topic (and these change frequently), it is time for you to WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU KNOW.   This is opposite to what we usually do, but this is similar to the writing tool teachers and students use.  It is called the KWL Chart.

    K-W-L Chart

    This is where you begin by writing about what you know and then listing what you want to know.
    I don't know that the third column is relevant to you right now, but maybe in the future.

    I look forward to meeting with you on Zoom in the near future so that we can discuss your decisions.

    Module 3: Intro to a Literature Review

    What is a literature review?  I don't think that It's like nothing you have ever written before. 

    Unlike the research papers you have written so far, a literature review requires you to identify research questions that you want to explore and then find ACTUAL RESEARCH (not written opinions) that may lead you to the answers to your questions. PLEASE NOTICE that I didn't use the verb, support. Research questions are unbiased. Research questions should read "What are the effects of using social media in high school social studies courses?" NOT "What are the benefits of using social media in high school social studies courses?"
    The reviewer is using these questions to explore the literature to see what has been researched to lead towards answering these questions.

    You have identified a question and will search the literature for answers. Once you have reviewed the literature, you will tell your reader about what you have found. You are guiding them through the stories(research) that you have discovered on your exploration. 

    Writing the Literature Review: Knowing what and why you write a literature review is important. Here is an overview by David Taylor at the University of Maryland. He is actually presenting it in the context of using the lit review as part of a larger document, but it is good description.

    What IS a Literature Review
    You have heard David Taylor's Description of a Literature Review.  Here is another WONDERFUL 9-minute video entitled Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students.  It is directly written for you . . . the graduate student. 

    This video reveals the multiple places where a Literature Review can be found.  It can be found in the introduction of a report on research.  This literature discussion creates a foundation for the research by describing what has already been accomplished.  Some literature reviews are meant to stand alone so that a reader can acquire an overall understanding of the field.

    You Are the Storyteller
    The best metaphor that I have found for explaining how to write literature reviews is that of someone telling you the story of a town by telling the stories of the people who live there. A great example of such a story is Our Town. I am sure that many of you either performed-in or saw your friends/children present Our Town in high school. This is a story where the narrator takes the viewer on a tour of their town by telling stories about the people in the town. 

    Watch this 1940 video of Our Town. It is a 2-hour story that you might enjoy as evening entertainment (and homework too.)  If 2-hours is too long for your busy schedule, then watch at least the first 30 minutes to get the sense of what I am saying about telling a story.

    This is not just for your entertainment.  It includes telling the story of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. You might say that it is a Grover's Corners Review. As you watch this video, keep track of the "main topics" that are covered.  Look for indicators of the validity of the items discussed.  Consider how the "main topics" intertwine.   

    Now Read chapter 1 of Pan's book, Preparing Literature Reviews to get an overall understanding of what a Literature Review is and how it must be written. 

    Review the Literature Review 1 in the back of the book as well (p. 135 - 136).   The labels may vary but how does it fit the overall structure?

    Return to the Assignment page to see what happens next.

    Module 2: Intro to Class and Portfolios

    Welcome to your Writing a Graduate Paper/ePortfolio course.       


    Now that you know something about the course, it is time to learn something about the ePortfolios that you will be creating to display your achievements during the time you will have spent 
    earning your UNI Instructional Technology Masters degree.

    What is a Portfolio Anyway?
    A portfolio is a system for sharing who you are and showing what you can do in a professional sense. We are asking you to complete a portfolio as a culminating experience for our UNI Instructional Technology Masters degree for two reasons.  Primarily, we want to provide you with a professional package that will collect and represent your accomplishments in our program. This package can provide you with a sense of accomplishment and something to share with others when they ask you "So what have YOU been doing for the past 2 years?"

    Your portfolio will also provide a product that we can use to evaluate our Instructional Technology program. While we evaluate each of these products in your individual courses, we hope that in our program "The whole is more than a sum of the parts."  We should be able to review your portfolios and determine if we are creating the exceptional professionals that we intend to produce.

    So What is In a Portfolio?
    • Artifacts - These are examples of what you do in your profession.  You have a chance to BRAG about yourself through your selection of your artifacts.
    • Reflections - Your portfolio is nothing but a scrapbook full of pictures without reflections. You need to include explanations about each of the artifacts you have chosen so that it will give meaning to your reader. 
    • Standards - Your artifacts may look good, but if there isn't criteria for them to be evaluated, they have no meaning. The value of your artifacts will depend upon the relevance of the standards upon which they are rated.
    • Framework - This is a wonderful collection, but it will mean nothing if it isn't presented in a fashion that makes sense and is easily understood.  Navigation is also a part of the Framework. You must provide an intuitive method for exploring the portfolio.
    Examples of a Portfolio
    We have been asking for portfolios in our program for the past decade. They have gone through many stages. Visit this page of examples. Review these and make notes about what you like and how you might improve upon it.  What is the image that you want to provide for your public?

    ePortfolio Requirements
    The requirements for the UNI Instructional Technology ePortfolio are well described.  You can find them at our IT website in the ePortfolio Guide.  We have specifically identified which artifacts to include, how to connect them with the standards, how to write reflections and how to put things together in your eportfolio.  You can use whatever medium you wish to present your portfolio as along as you include the required contents.

    The Times . . . They Are a'Changin'
    I must admit that our UNI Instructional Technology ePortfolio requirements are in a transitional period.  In November, we began reorganizing the format for our ePortfolio that would make it more relevant and personalized.  Here are some of the changes we made:
    • ISTE Standards - We are aligning it with the ISTE Standards for Teachers or the ISTE Standards for Coaches.  Our IT program is transitioning into aligning with the ISTE Standards for Teachers but the Coaches Standards may be more relevant to your professional lives when you are creating your portfolios.
    • Personalized - The artifacts in the ePortfolio have always been limited to the work you have completed in our IT program.  This is why you have been completing the Reflection questions at the end of many of your final projects.  We have decided to suggest that you personalize your portfolio by adding other personal achievements that have you have accomplished during your UNI matriculation.  These might include awards or certifications that you have earned.  They might include workshops, webinars or other courses of study that you have completed outside of UNI. You might share curricula you have created or instructional videos that you have filmed.  The options are endless.  The key would be that you could align these with the ISTE Standards to augment your defined collection of skills.
    • Simplified - We reduced the number of reflections that you will need to make throughout the ePortfolio because we want them to be meaningful, not just numerous.
    • Career Directed - We have asked you to include professional documentation as well that include your resume and other materials that you might find useful.
    So What Do You Want from Us?
    Your ePortfolios won't be due until Summer 2019.  The instructions for the portfolio requirements are available on our Instructional Technology Website under the 

    Portfolio Assignment for the first Module:
    You won't be required to create your whole portfolio this semester so we will just have you get a taste for doing this.