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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Tara Blyth Nessan
B EDUC 507
Bothell Campus

Reviewing the Literature

Explores how to locate, analyze, and synthesize professional literature on a topic and how to assemble the resources necessary to write a review of that literature. Supports critical literature review application of knowledge product for program completion dossier.

Class description

The purpose of a critical literature review is to apply and deepen knowledge from an area of study in educational research. The Critical Literature Review is also an appropriate application product in the completion dossier of students whose career goals include developing and sustaining expertise in a content area, and serving as a resource to other professionals in this topic area, as an integral part of their professional practice.

This course will help you identify an area of educational research to review, locate sources on your topic, analyze and synthesize located sources into an annotated bibliography, and construct an introduction to and outline of a critical literature review essay.

Student learning goals

Differentiate between types of sources including literature reviews, conceptual pieces, and research studies.

Identify and evaluate literature search strategies and resources.

Read and analyze research literature from an informed and critical perspective.

Synthesize information across sources to frame a coherent review of the literature.

Write summaries of research studies and other types of sources (book chapters, theoretical pieces, practitioner-focused articles) and a clear synthesis of multiple sources.

Engage in a cycle of revision, feedback, and reflection that is an integral part of the writing process.

General method of instruction

This course supports learning through study of professional publications and discussion of the concepts from these readings with colleagues. It also allows for instructor and peer feedback thought the literature review and writing process. Since every class period will involve discussion of the readings and an opportunity to share review drafts, particular attention to the reading assignments and the writing of weekly drafts is necessary.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

There are four requirements for the course: A. Contribute substantively and reflectively to discussion of assigned readings and topics.

B. Compose a literature review topic introduction. For this assignment you will a) take initial steps in exploring a research topic and b) share your topic introduction with your academic advisor. Developing your introduction involves three steps: First you will need to set the context for the issue you wish to investigate through a review of the literature, providing some background on the issue, what aspects of it are of interest to you, and what you see as the larger context for the topic you have identified for review. Second you will identify the purpose of your review of the literature. Be sure to develop your specific problem focus by posing additional or subsidiary questions that flow from the main topic you articulate. Third, you will need to identify next steps in the process toward developing a full review of the literature. Y

C. Compile and construct an annotated bibliography. For this assignment, you will need to assemble an annotated bibliography that includes at least 20 articles or sources relating to the research topic you are exploring in the process of reviewing the literature. You will use this annotated bibliography to construct your literature review paper in BEDUC 599.

D. Compose an outline of your critical literature review. Using your review introduction and your annotated bibliography, you will assemble an outline of your critical literature review that highlights the purpose and topic of your review, identifies subtopics related to the main topic, and organizes sources supporting and exploring each of these subtopics. This assignment will be your outline for writing the full version of the critical literature review in BEDUC 599.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Tara Blyth Nessan
Date: 11/07/2012