It enables theory development unimpeded by the practical obstacles of gaining access to people and organizations to collect ATA. It requires the development of expertise in research methods, innumeracy, attention to detail, and in the analysis and interpretation Of data. Despite these benefits, the pedagogic literature has little to say about the best means of teaching students how to research and write literature reviews.
This paper develops a three-stage framework for teaching literature reviews which gives explicit guidance for teachers and simplifies the process for students. The framework comprises a means of learning how to carry out a systematically informed search for relevant literature, demonstrated through samples; an approach to learning how to read and deconstruct a text in a critically informed way, through using a template with a questioning approach; and a way explaining how to reconstruct the material, using a simple metaphor to demonstrate how this is done.
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Keywords: literature reviews; teaching framework; academic skills; synthesis Introduction In this paper we set out to discuss the ways in which reviewing academic literature has evolved and then outline a new approach to teaching literature reviews via a three-stage framework. A literature review is a requirement in assessed pieces of written work in management studies for many courses and institutions at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Electronic search engines and greater access to internet-based academic secondary sources, coupled with the drive by national institutions and government requirements for increased academic output, has led to a huge expansion in the number of published academic journal articles. The task of reviewing the published literature in a particular field is in theory simpler, as much more is readily accessible through search engines, but it is also more complex as the ask becomes ever larger, and the review itself more difficult to organizer write and contain.
In an academic context, literature reviews should have a defined purpose and an identified audience. They must contain an in-depth analysis of past research and from it create a summary, evaluation or synthesis to build an argument and make a contribution to knowledge (see Bruce, 1 994; Hart, 1998; Baker, 2000). However, writing a literature review is fraught with problems for students because they have difficulty understanding what is expected of the outcome. In our view, literature views are inherently difficult to write and the results are often of poor quality.
Students must develop a critical standpoint in order to write a successful literature review but it may be very difficult for students to understand and engage in a critique of academic literature due to their prior educational experience or cultural expectations. Nevertheless, it is important that management students write literature reviews because it enables them to learn about rigor in research, particularly when they are unable to collect primary data. Gaining access to organizations and specific groups in the population is increasingly problematic in many discipline areas, including business and management.
Changing attitudes to data privacy, reinforced by legislation, mean, for example, that simple sampling frames used in past research, such as internal company address books and telephone lists, are no longer freely available to researchers. Writing a literature review helps students to learn how to sort and categories large amounts of disparate information drawn from many sources and re-frame it for a given purpose. None of the skills necessary for these transformations of the data is innate or an be assumed to be present in the undergraduate and postgraduate student populations.
There is little consensus about how this fundamental aspect of research may be taught. In this paper we outline a three-stage framework to better prepare students for writing their Teresa Smallness is a senior lecturer in marketing with a particular interest in consumer behavior, research methods and effective strategies for the development of teaching and learning. Sarah Question is a senior lecturer in marketing with a particular interest in the use biotechnology for marketing by Seems, research methods ND the development of critical writing skills for students.
International Journal Of Management Education 9(4), 2011 1 own literature reviews. The case for literature reviews The benefits of literature reviews in an academic context are manifold. Literature reviews can help students to identify trends that may have emerged in a subject (Hart, 1998; Saunders, Lewis, & Thrill, 2007) and gain a new perspective (Hart, 1998). They enable students to display their knowledge of a chosen field and what has gone before, to develop their search abilities and their ability to critique a subject area.
A literature review may also be used to create an analytical framework to analyses primary data (Candlewick, 2000). Literature reviews from one subject area can assist in delineating the boundaries of that subject, and researchers working across subjects can map different literature reviews to find an overlap. Writing literature reviews overcomes the increasing problems of access to organizations and falling public participation in surveys (Beets & Lund, 2010), which is already forcing academics to re-think their research strategies.
The discipline required to read for and construct a literature review hones intellectual as well as writing skills (Leek, 1 992), enabling students to demonstrate their understanding not only of the subject but also of research methods. Creating a literature review yields both practical knowledge, such as how to physically perform searches and categories search outputs; and conceptual knowledge, such as the deconstruction of past research, transformational thinking and synthesis leading to the creation of new knowledge.
The whole process involves moving to higher order critical thinking: from knowledge and comprehension to analysis and evaluation (Bloom, 1956). As a result, it helps students to develop the ability to synthesis information from a variety of sources, a skill vital for management students once in business life, while also developing their writing skills. Literature reviews in management research form a central role in developing ideas and argument, and enable management students to develop their thinking and critical abilities.
The quality of the reasoning must be based on good background knowledge relevant to the context, a sound knowledge of concepts in the discipline, and of the method of argumentation in inquiry (Bailing, Case, Combs, & Daniels, 1999). This implies that the students’ approach should be concerned with uncovering complexity, richness and controversy, so that their conclusions are contextually sound and based on multiple perspectives. There are clear pedagogic benefits in applying a more systematic approach.
Following a rigorous and replicable searching process through a library or resource centre, and using key search strings while searching online, can help students structure their thinking. As research supervisors in management research now frequently question the validity and reliability Of reviews, a well-documented, verifiable and logical process ay reduce accusations of plagiarism and enhance the credibility of their work. It is thus an essential skill for any business and management student to be able to perform a structured search of academic literature, evaluate texts to critique the material, then construct an argument.
A management graduate should be able to evaluate the quality and rigor, and determine the value of information, when reaching a management decision. An ability to write a report, underpinned by an understanding and appropriate use of relevant supporting information, is a prerequisite for a successful management career and one that is recognized by educators and employers. Thus the Quality Assurance Agency (QUA 2007) requirements for general business and management honors degrees include demonstration of the following skills: Cognitive skills of critical thinking, analysis and synthesis.
This includes the capability to identify assumptions, evaluate statements in terms of evidence, to detect false logic or reasoning, to identify implicit values, to define terms adequately and generalist appropriately. (p. 3). Similarly, employers value problem solving very highly as a skill for a business graduate (Institute of Directors, 2007). In research carried out for the Institute of Directors, 294 of the 500 company directors who responded (59%) stated that problem solving (involving thinking and analyzing information) was very important.
The evolution of literature reviews In recent years, the methodological approach to researching and writing literature reviews has come under increasing scrutiny. In the social sciences, including management, there has been much discussion about applying a more systematic approach to gathering material for literature reviews, specifically about adopting the procedures developed in medical sciences for hysteretic literature reviews.
Recent authors have covered topics such as how to construct searches on electronic databases and issues such as which search strings to use; advice on the use of search filters (Derringer Valiant, Guilt, Oliver, Fevers, & Burgers, 2007); how to develop inclusion and exclusion criteria in the health and medical science subject areas (McNally & Labors, 2004); and a description of the searching strategies employed by teachers (Hag & Dozier, 2003). In terms of the approach, as far back as 1989, Cooper suggested, in the preface to the first edition of his 2 International
Journal of Management Education 9(4), 2011 book, that there was a systematic, objective alternative to what he described as the standard intuitive, narrative and subjective approach to reviewing existing literature, and that this new approach was gaining rapid acceptance in the social science field. The methodology of systematic literature reviews was subsequently developed in medical science. It aims to synthesis past research in a transparent and reproducible way, as a means to inform decision-making about the effectiveness of healthcare interventions (Cook,
Mallow, & Haynes, 1997; Pope, 2003; Jackets, Rosenberg, Mir, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson, 1996). A systematic literature review is rule-driven and evidence-based, and relies on electronic searches conducted in an exhaustive manner, using explicit criteria for locating studies and deciding whether to include them. Transparency is key: reviews make clear how the researchers have searched for and evaluated the available literature so that readers can form a judgment as to the basis on which they drew their conclusions (Oakley, 2006).
Authors such as Papaws (2001), Boas, Shabby, and Young 2002) and Dixon-Woods et al. (2006) suggest that the methodology of systematic review can be combined with a more qualitative approach and adopted for the social sciences. There have been strong arguments both in favor and against applying it to the social sciences (see, for example, Hammerless, 2001; College, 2005; Oakley, cough, Oliver, & Thomas, 2005). 80th education and management research pose particular problems for applying the methodology of systematic literature reviews.
Gawk and Males (1 991 ) described the field of education as having an abundance of “multinomial literatures” (p. 65), and proposed the use of exploratory case study method as a means to engender greater rigor when writing reviews. Davies (2000) found that much educational research was not robust, with a wide range of research methodologies, a fragmented research community and few systematic reviews on which to base policy. A similar critique has been applied to management research (Transited, Tender, & Smart, 2003) where there is also a “dislocation of research from practice” (Tender & Transited, 2006, p. 13). At Cornfield University, where David Transited is based, systematic review is nevertheless now regarded as a key tool for management researchers, and students on the PhD programmer spend much of their first year writing a systematic literature review. Systematic searches of academic literature, and the classification and extraction of relevant data for synthesizing into a review, require both analytic and interpretive skills, and a high level of innumeracy and attention to detail, as well as expertise in a range of research methods (Oakley et al. 2005). The problem is that students do not necessarily have the knowledge base; the challenge for teachers is to make it explicit and accessible. Many authors have drawn attention to the lack of explicit teaching of students about how to tackle the writing of a literature review. Jackson aired the issue in 1980, Cooper in 1989, and Bruce in 1994. It was raised again by Fosse, Gaunt and Henry in 1998; Bootee and Belle in 2005; and Zorn and Campbell in 2006.
Recent authors who have begun addressing the pedagogic issues include Grapnels (2001), who used Bloom’s taxonomy as a way of helping students to move up the hierarchy of thinking: from the lower levels of knowledge, comprehension and application, to higher order analysis, synthesis and finally evaluation. Harris (2006) developed a teaching del to improve graduate students’ writing. Both Carillon (2003) and Lieu and You (2008) considered the impact of prior educational experience and national culture on the way university students write literature reviews.
Overall, however, given its importance in academic practice and assessment, remarkably little has been written in the academic pedagogic literature about how to teach students to write good literature reviews. The challenge of teaching how to write a literature review In our experience, there are general challenges that are presented by literature reviews. When literature reviews are discussed in a classroom, it IS often done in an abstract way and as a stand-alone topic, which makes it more difficult to understand. Writing literature reviews is not necessarily part of most students’ skills set.
It does not directly relate to their everyday experiences, which adds to their perception Of literature reviews as difficult. Relating the concept to current assignments could have more impact and make the subject more concrete. In order to create a literature review, students need to spend time exploring subject alleys that may turn out to be dead ends, but this is a necessary part of learning what will not go into a iterate review. Thus literature reviews take time to create, posing another challenge for the increasingly time-pressured students. Students may not have been taught to question what they read during their secondary education.
This may be particularly true of students from other educational cultures where reproduction of information is strongly encouraged (Lieu & You, 2008). Helping develop these students and change their approach can be a challenge. Most students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level find it difficult to believe that they have their own author’s voice, and that their voice is valuable. At some stage in the literature review the author will need to express a well-informed opinion. Yet students frequently doubt that they can provide any original insight into the literature.
This doubt can lead to hesitancy in putting pen to paper. It is a further challenge International Journal of Management Education 9(4), 201 1 3 that must be overcome when teaching students to write literature reviews. Teachers face other challenges: teaching how to create a literature review is particularly difficult to do if you have never written one yourself. The experience of trying to weave published literature together to form a reorient critical discussion takes practice, and if the teacher has not recently tried to do it the teaching can become detached and unrealistic.
Thus teachers might have to face their own weaknesses in their understanding of what is required. This may be more likely in certain practitioner-focused subjects including management, which does not have a long-established tradition of scholarly writing (Hawkins, 1984; Verandah, 2003). Having become aware of the challenges through their teaching, the authors set out to provide simple tools that would help both students and teachers overcome his problem. Method The authors have taught both undergraduates and postgraduates research methods in a university business school for many years.
They supervise undergraduate, masters and doctoral dissertations and theses. In 2007 and 2008 they attended a series of workshops run by the Advanced Institute of Management (AIM) on systematic reviews and writing literature reviews. This paper reflects the learning and experience gained during those workshops, and the structured reflection on this subject that both preceded them and has continued subsequently. As teachers of research methods and assertions supervisors, we have considered how to facilitate students’ understanding and improve their ability to write literature reviews at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The proposed three-stage approach to teaching literature reviews (a structured search, the deconstruction and formal evaluation of a text, and the reconstruction and creation of an original contribution) offers a summation of this expertise. It is based on learning from the workshops, a literature search of the limited published pedagogic material on the subject, and collective experience of grappling with how to each “doing a literature review’ to a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The three stages of a literature review We see writing literature reviews as falling into three distinct stages.
The first is the identification and collection of literature as part of a more rigorous, systematized approach to literature reviews (see Transited et al. , 2003). We accept the critique, discussed earlier, developed by Cooper (1989), Transited et al. (2003) and others, of the traditional narrative approach to literature reviews, and agree that there is a need to develop a more systematic and transparent approach. The second involves the De-construction of academic literature. It is achieved largely by asking questions of the literature (November, 2002; Question & Smallness, 2006; Wallace & Wary, 2006; Smallness, Hartley, & Question, 2007).
The third is the formation of argument and discussion, and its reconstruction and transformation into a body of new work that benefits the subject area. This paper’s contribution to knowledge lies in suggesting a framework that gives explicit guidance to the three stages involved. A structured search A systematically informed literature review involves the painstaking search for relevant literature. However, this is only a preliminary to the filtration of that literature into a smaller subset that is based on reliable and relevant research. Oakley et al. 2005) described the lessons learned while constructing a methodology to support systematic reviews in the social sciences. These include the need to search large amounts Of literature to find small subsets Of studies that are deemed reliable. Systematic searches invariably uncover many more studies in a particular area than might have been suspected, but may also omit key pieces of data. As a result, a literature search may involve a mapping exercise to establish the extent of the literature; an exercise that is both transparent in its method and is reproducible.
The next step focuses on reducing the number of studies to a subset that answers a particular research question. A search and mapping exercise is described below; used to demonstrate to students both how to conduct and how to document an initial search. The design of the example was based on a systematically informed approach to reviewing literature, as suggested by Transited et al. (2003). A systematically informed approach, as shown in this example, helps identify and clarify the election of the literature and minimize bias in the process of selecting the literature (Cook et al. , 1997).
In the example we use, two large electronic databases were searched, one broad based (OBESE) and one a specialized education based database (ERIC, Educational Resources Information Center). Keywords and search strings were generated using a thesaurus and other keywords used by pedagogic researchers in their published works (Table 1). The researchers were interested to find any links in the literature between the specific motivations of gifted students and their performance at university in order to write a paper that would offer guidance to academics on how to get the most from this type of student.
The aim was to identify literature that would answer the research question ‘What motivates gifted students to higher performance at university? ” 4 International Journal of Management Education 9(4), 201 1 The initial key word search used “gifted students” and gave a large but mostly irrelevant set of CSS results (279 hits) on the us-based ERIC database. A class discussion can be built around a live demonstration of this search and could highlight what needs to be considered in the first mapping stage. Topics for this discussion might include decisions about the relevance of search results.
For example, the search found potentially relevant papers such as Phillips and Lindsay (2006), which investigates motivation and achievement in gifted students, but the students in that study and in many others were at school rather than at university (Alexander, Murphy, & Guan, 1 998; Never, Fantastical, & urban, 2001 ; Rugby, 2005; Philips & Lindsay, 2006) and thus were not of interest to the research question. The next step is to develop a set of criteria by which to judge the identified literature, and a class concussion can be focused around what the relevant criteria might be.
The criteria eventually adopted were that papers must: be peer reviewed; have focused specifically on university students; concentrate on motivation for studying and achievement at university; be dated from 1998 onwards in the ERIC database; not be duplicates held in other databases; be written in English. International studies were permitted owing to the lack of Subleased material. From these early stage discussions, the students build up an understanding of how to search, select and perform an initial evaluation of reach results, and the need to document the process.
Key search strings used Gifted students Gifted students and university Gifted students and higher education Motivated students and university Successful students and university Engaged students and university High performing students and university Keen students and university Higher achieving students Higher achieving students and higher education Higher achieving students and university Receptive students and university Frights students and university Total usable Database – ERIC 279 search too broad 19 Duplicate results as above search term 6 7 3 00 13 300 0 Number meeting criteria 08 Duplicate results as above search term 1 2000 33000 17 Database OBESE 60 16 10 60 129 136 147 12 199 98 538 12 Number meeting criteria 11 O 230 3003 10023 Table 1 : Summary of exemplar search strings and number of articles found Subsequent discussions can be centered on the potential limitations of a systematically informed approach to a literature review.
For example, finding articles is always dependent on the quality of indexing and cataloguing of articles in electronic databases and is often reliant on the software. As English engage usage is not standardized, the key words used to describe what is being searched for change, making searching more complicated and reducing the chance of finding all the potential literature. A non-systematic route, such as following colleagues’ recommendations and tracing references used in articles, may yield highly relevant supplementary material. In the current example, these suggestions led to the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, a source of much relevant research and many earlier papers.
The key point to be made here is the need for students to keep meticulous cords so that the whole process is transparent and reproducible. Deconstruction Having identified the relevant literature, students need to digest the content, to decide how much data to International Journal of Management Education 9(4), 201 1 5 extract and then to assess its worth. As a first step, many students need to improve their use of reading, which involves an understanding of how argument works in text and the comprehension of the material in hand (Du Foully, 1999; Browne & Freeman, 2000). They need to be taught how to develop the skills of appraisal and critique (Chamberlain & Borough, 1 985; Du Foully, 1999).
In our view, students need to learn to regard academic journal articles and books not as repositories of facts, but as a series of arguments that can be analyses and dissected. An ability to deconstruct argument is important, but only part of what is required for learning. New knowledge is formed on the basis of previous understanding, but there has to be some reflection as well (Lindquist, 1999). In the course of teaching undergraduates and postgraduates we have developed with them a template. This is shown, with a brief example of how it can be used, in Table 2, It notation a series of questions to encourage students to read critically and to record their views. We introduce it as part of a classroom exercise when students read a journal article they have been given in advance of the class, using the template.
It has been developed from a wide range of pedagogic sources and with students themselves (see, for example, Greenshank, 2001 ; November, 2002; Metcalf, 2006; Question & Smallness, 2006; Wallace & Wary, 2006). The questions in the template are designed to prompt students to think more deeply about the content, message and structure of the articles hey read and, crucially, the author’s perspective, approach and ontology. Their answers should provide them with a means of entry into the author’s thinking, as well as a useful source of comments for the later stages of writing up the literature review. Many of the questions are designed to encourage students to be reflective and self-reflective: the intention is to encourage them to think rather than report.
At the same time, they are also prompted to think about the clarity of the authors style and use of argument, and the effectiveness of the use of tables, diagrams and charts. This is to help them evolve an understanding of what makes for good academic writing and to give pointers on how to develop their own style. The core questions in the analysis section of the template are to aid students in the deconstruction of the authors material and argument. They deal with issues such as the robustness of the research methods used, the extent to which the results can be generalized to other cases and other situations, and the nature of the evidence that supports such assumptions.
The issue of author bias, especially cultural bias, is also raised here. This is an interesting area for student concussion and reflection. Initial questions What is my purpose in reading this material? When was the research reported on actually done? What type of literature is this? How extensive are the range of sources? Response To identify what motivates gifted students to higher performance at university Between 2003-2006 An academic, peer reviewed journal article in the learning and teaching subject area. A fairly wide range of mostly academic journal articles including leading authors in the subject, could have included more practitioner based subject material.