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Literacy and Teaching English as a Second Language

This guide provides UC students, staff and faculty with key article databases, links to e-books/books, websites and other resources useful for English as a Second Language instruction and research.

Overview

There are eight general steps in conducting an education literature review.  Please follow the eight numbered boxes, starting below.

Please note that the general framework for this guide is derived from the work of Joyce P. Gall, M.D. Gall, and Walter R. Borg in Applying Educational Research: a Practical Guide (5th ed., 2005). Also, much of the information on framing the research question comes from Emily Grimm's "Selected Reference Sources for Graduate Students in Education and Education Related Areas" (1995).

 

1.) Frame Your Research Question(s)

Basic Questions

  • What do I want to know?  For what purpose? Consider subject terms, synonyms, related concepts and approaches.
  • What do I know already?
  • Who else might have performed similar research and why? Consider individuals, institutions, governmental agencies and other groups.
  • What summarizing or descriptive information is already available? Consider the secondary sources found below.

Time Questions

  • For which time span(s) do I need information?
  • Would recurrent or temporal events in education affect my research?  For example: school terms, budget hearings, conference proceedings, legislative sessions, policy decisions, elections, administrative procedural changes.

Limitation(s) Questions

  • Do I have other limitations?  For example:  language, age group, grade level, type of student, type of school, type of district, geography, curricular area, or style of teaching.

Aspect Questions

  • What aspects of education interest me?  For example:  financial, administrative, teaching, legislative, gender, parental, theoretical, research, developmental, practical or other.

Subjective Aspect Questions

  • What are my values, prejudices, biases, and areas of ignorance in regard to my research question(s)?
  • Will I let these prejudices limit my research?
  • Will I let these prejudices influence my note taking, choice of vocabulary and indexing terms, selection of data, evaluations of the work of other researchers, inclusion of conflicting theories, reporting of data, or my conclusions?

2.) Contact Experts to Get Answers or for Guidance to Relevant Publications

Consider consulting other educators, faculty or government officials who may specialize in your research area.

You may also want to consult the American Educational Research Association SIG (Special Interest Group) website for the names of groups and individuals who have expertise in different educational areas.  AERA provides the names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of individuals doing research in a variety of areas.

3.) Read Secondary Sources to Gain a Broad Overview of the Literature Related to Your Research Area

Use secondary sources to further define your research question and to expand your literature search.  Secondary sources include encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, and thesauri. Secondary sources are resources that review research that others have done.  They provide a general overview, will give you ideas for key search terms, and often include useful bibliographies for further reading.

Here are some key secondary sources and books on doing educational research:

4.) Select Preliminary Sources that Index Relevant Research Literature

Preliminary sources index primary research resources such as journal articles, conference proceeding papers, technical reports, government documents, dissertations and more.  The CECH Library has created several specialized e-library guides on topics such as special education, instructional design & technology, and teaching STEM related topics that list which resources are most helpful for doing research in these areas. Click here to access a list of library e-guides. Otherwise, here are key education databases:

5.) Identify Subject Terms, or Descriptors, and Use Them to Search Preliminary Sources

Choosing the most appropriate subject search terms, or descriptors, for searching indexes and catalogs can greatly influence your search results.  A good place to start is ERIC's thesaurus of descriptors:

6.) Read and Evaluate Primary Sources Discovered Through Indexes

For assistance in obtaining copies of primary sources, please consult UC Libraries' online tutorials.

As you print out copies of articles, review copies of books or reports, remember to look in the sources for bibliographies, names of individuals or groups who have done research on the topic, and for additional subject terms to help you narrow or broaden your research.

7.) Classify the Publications You Have Reviewed into Meaningful Categories

As you review the sources you find, classify them into meaningful categories.  This will help you prioritize reading them and may indicate useful ways to synthesize what you discover.  You may want to create a simple code for the different categories.

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