Module 3: Intro to a Literature Review

What is a literature review?  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. Consider yourself a storyteller.

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.

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 Literature Review on WaterPipe Smoking in the back of the book as well.   The labels may vary but how does it fit the overall structure?

Discussion: Now get back into connection with your classmates by going to the Intro to Literature Reviews discussion group to discuss your ideas about what a literature review is and how the metaphor of storyteller (as in Our Town) changes your perspective of such a writing project.

Module 1: Intro to Class and Portfolios
Welcome to your Writing a Graduate Paper/ePortfolio course. 

This week you need to review the syllabus, agenda and general information. Then you will be able to display your incredible ability to remember important details (or look them up quickly since it is an "Open Computer" test when you take the . . .  


Now that you know all 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 an ePortfolio 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 it there isn't a 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 eportfolios in our program for the past decade. They have gone through many stages. Visit this page of examples. Make note of what you like and how you might improve upon it.

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 curriculum 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 Spring 2016.  It doesn't make any sense for us to impose the old standards on you since they will be updated by one year from now . . . BUT we haven't changed the existing ePortfolio descriptions on our Instructional Technology website because we haven't finished them nor field tested them.

. . . how would you like to help us make this happen?

We have rewritten the requirements based upon the reorganization explained earlier. At this point we are calling it the Instructional Technology ePortfolio Narrative.  Take a look. We want your input. 

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

Based upon our new set of UNI Instructional Technology ePortfolio requirements, you will write the Introductory page and 2 artifacts pages.