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Module 9: Developing Your Analysis and Discussion


Analysis and Discussion

This is the section where you actually present research-based concepts in an organized fashion and use specific studies to support these ideas. Remember that this section has NOTHING to do with your personal ideas. You need to save your personal ideas for the Conclusions and Recommendations section.

The Analysis and Discussion section begins by identifying the research theme (or themes in your masters paper) that you will be exploring.  You will use the opening paragraph to provide the framework for the rest of this section. Having identified your research theme, you will then define the subheadings. This shouldn't be done in a boring bulleted list. This organization can be defined through the prose of your review.
 Here is an example of how this opening paragraph for a Full Masters Literature Review might be written:
Teachers’ beliefs regarding technology integration into the 21st century classroom play a role in learning. Technology can only be embraced as an effective learning tool when teachers believe that what they are being asked to do will work, and that it is the best solution to an identifiable educational problem (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999). There are three specific areas that will be reviewed within the role of teacher belief systems in technology integration. These areas are common teacher beliefs regarding technology integration, teacher goals and knowledge concerning technology integration and supporting teachers as they integrate technology into the 21st century classroom. 
Tour a Sample Lit Review: It is difficult to describe how to write the Methodology or Analysis and Discussion sections without examples, so here is a narration of a single literature review as well as some other examples you will want to read to "get the idea" of how to write these beasts.

Other examples will be included after this narration:

A fine example of this organization is the article, The Effect of Instructor-created Video Programs to Teach Students with Disabilities: A Literature Review by Linda Mechling (2005) Journal of Special Education Technologies 20(2) 25 - 36.  Open the article in another window and review it while you read this narration.

This is a comprehensive review about using video programs. Notice how this begins with an opening paragraph that sets the stage. It talks about the research and development since the early 1980s. It then supports the importance of the topic by showing research-based advantages to the method. This is followed in the 5th paragraph where Mechling explains the purpose and scope of the review. It also explains how the review will be structured.

The Introduction is followed by the Method (Methodology) where it explains the method for finding the studies and the criteria that were used to filter the research. You will noticed that the explanation of databases is not as extensive as we expect for this project, the critera are quite specific.

The results section is similar to our Analysis and Discussion. It begins by specifically explaining the grouping of the studies. It does a wonderful job of creating the framework of the upcoming contents for the reader. Your section doesn't need to be quite so statistically-oriented, but please note how it prepares the reader for the research that will be presented.

Each of the sections described in the Analysis and Discussion are subheaded and discussed as independent entities. The Video Feedback section is concept-driven. This begins with the video feedback concept and supports that with Dowrick's work. it then explains a variety of studies where the value of video feedback was explored in various fashions. Notice how the studies are not the emphasis of the section the effects of video feedback are central to what is being shared. The final paragraph combines and summarizes what was found in the studies. Please NOTE: the final two sentences are transitional sentences that lead to the next section, Video Modeling.

This process of exploring each of the sections described in the opening paragraphs continues throughout the review. The Discussion section (p. 32) is close to the section that we would call the Conclusions and Recommendation section. The author reviews each of the sections and provides commentary on the effectiveness of the approach. This is also the place where the author can compare and contrast the various outcomes (i.e., Paragraph 3 on p. 33.)

The Recommendations for future research do a decent job of relating this technology to the future potential of Virtual Reality. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a very good job of discussing how these results might change policy and pedagogy for teaching disabled learners in the future. There are, however, a few sentences addressing these areas in the final sentences of the review.

The Summary at the end is not necessary if you have written your conclusions well. This section is well-written and much of it could be used as organizational material for the conclusions section in one of our papers.

This review is a fine example of the simple format of a literature review. It doesn't involve teaching readers the fundamentals of a topic as much as providing an organized review of the research in the field. 


Other Examples:

Module 8: Describing Your Methodology

You have prepared your readers for your review in the Introduction by telling them what you are reviewing, why it is important and how you have constrained your research to limit it to a manageable size. You have identified your research questions to tantalize your readers.

NOW it is time to get down to writing the bulk of your paper which includes the Methodology and Analysis and Discussion. The Methodology tells you how you found the research and the following section actually presents the review. Writing your Analysis and Discussion will be discussed in the next module.

Methodology
While the Methodology that you will write for this review is not always included in the typical published journal reviews that you have been reading in your research, it is something that you will use to validate your research. The importance of the methodology is that it allows you to demonstrate your search's thoroughness to your readers so that they can personally decide how comprehensive your searches might be. If your readers feel that you have approached your research properly, then they will continue to read your Analysis and Discussion of the literature collection. You might say that your Methodology section provides the credibility which is the foundation of your whole review.

You will need to explain the search methods you used to find your resources. That isn't too difficult, but then you need to describe how you decided what to include. Once your search yielded a huge list of possible resources, you need to specify the orderly process you used to make the best selection of your bountiful harvest.

You will also have to explain how you ultimately selected your resources. Your criteria for selection might include indicators like date (5 years or less if possible), reputable journal, frequently-cited author, quality of research, large enough sample size, methodology, quality of the research, etc.


So what are the topics that need to be covered in the Methodology? It's simply a matter of explaining the process:
  1. You begin by explaining how you gathered your resources. Which specific search engines did you use and what terms/phrases did you use for your search?
  2. You were presented with hundreds or thousands of resources. You didn't have time to review all of the abstracts and resources. You had to decide which abstracts to review. You needed to make decisions about which sources to analyze. Explain your strategy for deciding which sources "made the first cut."
  3. Once you decided which sources to trust, what procedures did you use to analyze the sources to identify if they are reliable enough to consider them for your review.
  4. When you have winnowed your collection of reliable resources, explain the criteria that you used to decide which resources will be relevant to your review.

Examples of Methodologies

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 3 in Galvan's book. He provides 14 steps in Selecting a Topic and Identifying Literature for Review.

Here is a short clip on selecting a topic:



What's in the Literature?
Once you have an overall topic (and these change frequently), it is time for you to review the literature in that topic and discover what has been researched.  What questions have researchers asked about this topic and what have they found through their research?  What else needs to be researched?

As Galvan noted in chapter 3, you have to review the sources you have found and look for common themes in the research.    Here is a short video that talks about research themes.  It actually addresses how your will organize your resources when you prepare to write, but it provides a useful structure for your research.


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 chapters 1 and 2 of Galvan's book, Writing Literature Reviews to get an overall understanding of what a Literature Review is and how it must be written. 

Review the the Literature Reviews A & B in the back of the book as well.   The labels may vary but how does it fit the overall structure?

Return to the Assignment page to see what happens next.