Reflecting on Literature Review for EER500

For the first assignment in the subject EER500: Introduction to Educational Research Methods, we were required to write a literature review on the topic of our choice. The purpose of the review was to identify gaps in the literature with a view towards developing a research question to be developed into a research proposal for the final assessment.

I was interested in looking more deeply into research topics surrounding digital literature with respect to primary schools as the other subject that I am taking this session is INF533: Literature in Digital Environments.

I was pleased with my result (92.5% for an HD – which I am sharing mainly because I find it frustrating to access assignments done by people in previous sessions and have no way to judge where they fall in the marking scheme) as my goal was to get over 90% on at least one of my assessments this session – especially as both of my subjects have a 40/60 split for the two marked assessments this session, rather than the 50/50 split in my first session subjects. I am rather embarrassed, though, as I forgot to include the textbook (Bryman, 2015) in my reference list! That is what I get for my prideful decision not to cross-check my reference list with my in-text citations before submitting my paper!

I enjoyed the fact that this literature review was more straightforward in purpose than last session’s ETL401 assignment. I am coming to realise that there is not one set purpose for a “stand-alone” literature review. However, one of the main purposes I have seen for a literature review is the main purpose behind this assignment – taking a snapshot of the literature and identifying areas for targeting future research. What was a bit tricky in this particular task was that it was also a vehicle to demonstrate understanding of the research methods content covered in the class. To be honest, I attacked that aspect by mainly writing the literature review and then retro-fitting research methods commentary and citations in areas where they seemed particularly relevant.

A difficulty that I had was that I had a very nebulous idea of what I wanted to look into at the outset. This meant that it took quite a lot of background reading and time for my ideas to coalesce enough to narrow my topic to something reasonable for the parameters of the task. It also meant that I feel as though I only scratched the surface of the overarching or even the narrowing topics that I identified. I realised on the last weekend that a key term that I was using in my paper, “screen reading”, had never been part of my literature search terms! A quick look at that term showed me that there was a vast ocean of potential literature that I did not have time to look at! Thankfully, this was not required to be an exhaustive, systematic meta-analytical review!

The progression of my topic narrowing also meant that I started writing my paper with the intention of working towards one research question area but got diverted in another direction at the last moment. I initially thought of creating a study looking into reading multimodal, non=-linear text in digital and print formats or something along those lines – based in primary schooling in an Australian context. I was inspired by the Kao, Tsai, Liu and Yang (2016) and Hou, Rashid and Lee (2016) studies in my literature review. In the last few days before submission, though, I somehow realised that digital reading comprehension testing and the online NAPLAN tests were related to my field of inquiry and got a bit of a bee in my bonnet on the backing research for those test and that diverted me into a different avenue of research opportunity.

I am not sure what implications this has for application to my future work – I would ideally start from a more focused idea or have more time for my exploration and topic narrowing. However, we cannot always order inspiration up when desired, nor control the scheduling of tasks that need to be accomplished. I was also encouraged to pursue the research question ultimately chosen in my paper by my husband, an economist highly biased towards the quantitative side of the research spectrum.


Bryman, A. (2015). Social research methods, 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hou, J., Rashid, J., & Lee, K. M. (2016) Cognitive map or medium materiality? Reading on paper and screen. Computers in Human Behavior, 67, 84-94. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.014

Kao, G.Y., Tsai, C., Liu, C., & Yang, C. (2016). The effects of high/low interactive electronic storybooks on elementary school students’ reading motivation, story comprehension and chromatics concepts. Computers & Education, 100, 56-70. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.04.013

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