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Module A - Diploma part I
Module A3 - Literature and Literature Review

Some starting literature on teaching and learning

Below are some starting places for thinking about teaching and learning - and reflecting on your own practice. You use these to start and think of areas about which you want to develop your own practice before starting to read more specially and frame your research areas (Modules A4 and A5)

Before you start, read this short piece from Marilyn Cochran Smith (2003) on the Unforgiving Complexity of Teaching

  • Evangelou, M et al (2009) Early Years Learning and Development: A Literature Review. London. Department for Education, Schools and Families - download
  • Coe, R et al (2014) What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. Durham. CEM - download
  • Deans for Impact (2015) The Science of - download
  • Husbands, C and Pearce, J (2012) What makes great pedagogy: Nine claims from research. Nottingham. NCSL - download

Consider the various claims of these researchers about the key aspects of teaching and learning.

You might also like to have a look at these pages which give you a brief overview of some thinkers in education:

Research Focus?

At the start of any study, there is the literature that has already been written. Yuu may not be sure yet what area of study you want to look at - though you should start to be thinking about this. Some questions to help you frame this are:

(1) What areas of education are you interested in?
(2) What things are key for you to develop your own practice? Are these subject related or pedagogy related?
(3) What things are important for your class, department, key stage, subject lead, school?

Finding Literature

Access to the research databases on the University of Hull Library

Two of the key databases you will have access to are:


Accessing Note: When accessing online databases/journals you might be asked to log in. Always look for the option which says "Shibboleth login" and then search for the University of Hull (this might be in a subsection under "UK Higher Education"). You should then be able to access using the 6 digit number and then your normal login. Hopefully, if you are already logged in this will not be a problem - but who wants an easy life!!

Wider Literature Sources

  • On this page - [username: hullpgce / password: pedagogy] you will find a larger range of possible sources for looking for literature. Some of these will be open access and some will not (!). 
  • Google Scholar can be an OK place to start but be aware of its limitations.
  • Use books and chapters from the reading list or other materials you have access to. Ask if the school or colleagues have any academic books you could borrow.A

Often the starting place is one good academic chapter or journal article then use the references from this as your "kick-off" point. Contact me if there are specific questions or things you need to discuss.

Using BOOLEAN search terms:

See the guide from Google: (Links to an external site.)

These are fairly common usages. You should also look at the support pages for:

Writing a Literature Review

A literature review is a critical analysis of published sources, or literature, on a particular topic. It is an assessment of the literature and provides a summary, classification, comparison and evaluation. At postgraduate level, literature reviews can be incorporated into an article, a research report or thesis.

The literature review is generally made up of three components: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. It is not a list like an annotated bibliography in which a summary of each source is listed one by one.

Why do we write literature reviews?

A literature review demonstrates your understanding of the literature on a particular topic. You show your understanding by analysing and then synthesising the information to:

  • Determine what has already been written on a topic
  • Provide an overview of key concepts
  • Identify major relationships or patterns
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify any gaps in the research
  • Identify any conflicting evidence
  • Provide a solid background to a research paper’s investigation

The stages of writing the Literature Review are:

Determine your purpose: What do you want to address? What are the key topic areas? What are you searching the literature to find out?

What kind of literature? Use as wide a range of sources as possible (see above) but focus on academic quality so peer-reviewed journal articles and books; conference papers and reports are also good secondary sources, be careful of more journalistic sources, government reports and think-tanks which tend to be more partisan.

How many sources? There are no "golden rules" but 1 source per 150 words is not a bad starting place so if you have 2,000 words you should be looking to about 15 sources for the review.A

As you read: Keep a journal of the core elements of the citation and the key elements of the study. Also, make a note of any particularly useful quotes. You might use a referencing tool such as Endnote or Zotero.

Critical Reading: You are reading critically so the Bassey Questions are good ones to keep in mind.

See also these documents:

  • Study Advice Service (Hull) The Literature Review - download
  • The University of Leicester Doing a Literature Review - download

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