THE LITERATURE REVIEW

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DAL02 2 The literature review
THE LITERATURE REVIEW
as background for an empirical
study
… typically in an MA dissertation or PhD thesis
What other sorts of ‘literature review’ are there?
WHEN SHOULD THE LITERATURE REVIEW BE
DONE?
• Do you agree with this statement by a PhD student?
I will set aside the first year of my PhD to complete the
Introduction and the Literature review. Then I can forget
about that and concentrate on what data I am going to
gather.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
• Not more than 1/3 of the whole text
WHAT SHOULD BE IN IT (1)?
Range of topics to cover, compared with what
should be in other chapters
• The data gathered by the researcher later is about
Japanese secondary school learners’ success in
recognising and producing the English r/l distinction
• Which of the following should be in the lit review?
• If any of these should not be there, where should
they be?
Description and discussion of previous research close to that of the researcher
e.g. other studies of Japanese learners’ performance with r/l
Description of the wider research field into which the research area fits
e.g. acquisition of L2 phonology
Description of the local context which the research is relevant to
e.g. the English teaching/learning situation in Japan at secondary level, especially
with respect to pronunciation; what goes on in state school and juku; role of
pronunciation in exams…
Discussion of theoretical background to the study, if there is one
e.g. contrastive analysis; theories of L1 transfer in L2 learning
Definitions of key terms
e.g. recognition, minimal pair
The research questions and/or hypotheses of the study
e.g. Are Japanese learners able to recognise the English r/l distinction more or
less successfully than they are able to produce it?
References to how the researcher’s own study will be carried out
e.g. learners will be asked to read aloud pairs of words differing only in r/l, such
as lack rack and the researcher will rate how well they make the distinction
WHAT SHOULD BE IN IT (2)?
Relevant parts of the subject matter, compared
with what should be omitted
• Some examiners take the ‘strong’ view that there
should be nothing covered in the lit review that is
not referred to again when you have your own
results. I.e. it must all be directly relevant.
• A more usual view is that some material should be
there which concerns the wider research context in
which the study is located, but is not directly relevant
to the precise study being done.
• But at all costs avoid the ‘drunk under the streetlight’
syndrome.
• The researcher’s actual study is about the
strategies/processes used by Arabic learners of
English in Saudi Arabia writing both in Arabic and in
English. It has a lit review (ch 2) divided into these
four main subsections.
• Does it look as if the right topics are being covered?
Or should topics be added or deleted?
2.1 Writing
2.2 Research on English L1 writing
2.3 Studies of ESL writing processes
2.4 Studies of EFL writing processes
• The study is of student attitudes to the effectiveness
of two types of written error correction, ‘full’ and
‘partial’, given by the teacher writing on their scripts.
Here are the lit review section headings:
Introduction
Early researches on error correction
More recent researches on error correction
Technology mediated error correction
• Does it seem to cover the right areas?
• Is this the best way of starting the lit review chapter?
The researcher’s study in fact is on the effect of prof
level and age on guessing and dictionary use
strategies
The current chapter aims at discussing the wide-ranging
definitions and features of language learning strategies. Next,
vocabulary learning strategies in L2 learning and some
factors affecting the learner’s choice of a strategy will be
examined. Furthermore, some studies related to the topic of
this dissertation will be highlighted.
BALANCE and COMPLETENESS
• Give space evenly to each of a set of points?
• This is often said to be desirable, …
• A thesis on writing strategies of learners of English
has a review of Studies on the sub-processes of
writing, which states near the start:
The focus of much of the cognitive process research has been
on individual sub-processes such as planning, generating,
revising, and editing. Hence, this section presents a review of
studies dealing with sub-process of writing...
<There then follow one and a half pages on planning, half a
page on generating, and two and a half on revising>
• Is there a problem with that?
• How might the imbalance have arisen?
• When is it good not to be ‘complete’ or ‘balanced’?
– If your study is just about one area within a topic,
no need to cover all areas in equal detail
– ….but tell the reader why you are doing that
– You should be balanced and complete in relation
to your research focus, not in relation to ‘all that is
there in the literature’
HOW SHOULD IT BE ORGANISED (1)?
Overall structure types
• There should be a clear structure in the order in
which topics are covered
• From the above examples…. What two main ways of
organising a literature review emerge as possible?
HOW SHOULD IT BE ORGANISED (2)?
Sequencing and grouping of sections
• There should be a clear structure in the subgrouping
by which topics are covered
• Section numbering should be logical and not too
complex
• A study of Greeks learning the English article. Below
are the headings of literature review sections in Ch2
• Suggest a suitable numbering for them, showing
sensible groupings of the sections
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Introduction to the chapter
Second language acquisition
Theories of second language acquisition
Syntax in second language acquisition
Role of mother tongue syntax
Models of syntactic acquisition research
Syntactic theories of the article
The syntax of the English article
The syntax of the Greek article
Studies of article acquisition
Article acquisition by Greek EFL learners
Research questions and hypotheses
Chapter conclusion
2.1
2.2
2.2.1
2.2.2
2.2.2.1
2.2.2.2
2.3
2.3.1
2.3.2
2.4
2.4.1
2.5
2.6
Introduction to the chapter
Second language acquisition
Theories of second language acquisition
Syntax in second language acquisition
Role of mother tongue syntax
Models of syntactic acquisition research
Syntactic theories of the article
The syntax of the English article
The syntax of the Greek article
Studies of article acquisition
Article acquisition by Greek EFL learners
Research questions and hypotheses
Chapter conclusion
• This is the index to a literature review of a study of
the ways in which teachers give feedback on
grammar errors in Saudi learners’ L2 English writing
• Some of the section headings are not satisfactory.
Say why and suggest improvements
• The sequence of sections 2.2 to 2.15 does not really
cover 14 topics that are equally distinct from each
other. Some belong together in subgroups. Suggest
which sections might be put together because they
share a common overall theme.
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Teaching writing to Saudi learners
2.3 What is a L2 learner grammatical error?
2.4 Grammar problems encountered by Saudi/Arab students
2.5 Definition of feedback
2.6 The significance of feedback in the EFL context
2.7 Feedback in Saudi secondary schools
2.8 Teacher’s self-evaluation
2.9 The significance of written feedback on grammatical errors
2.10 The importance of written feedback on grammatical errors
2.11 Types of written feedback
2.12 Teachers’ grammatical feedback
2.13 Feedback and marks
2.14 The language of feedback
2.15 Teachers’ methods of providing feedback
2.16 Research questions
• The thesis is about dictionary use by university level
learners of English, and the later questionnaire asks
them about how often they use this and that type of
dictionary. Section 2.4.2.2 reviews Different types of
dictionary in terms of medium, and is subdivided as
follows:
• Are the sections suited to the topic?
• Is the numbering suitable?
• Is the last paragraph appropriate?
2.4.2.2.1 Print dictionary
2.4.2.2.2 Hand-held electronic dictionary
2.4.2.2.3 CD, Internet, PC-based dictionaries
<... last paragraph of that third subsection runs...> To sum up,
we have seen that different types of dictionary have different
features. Print dictionaries are widely used and contain a lot of
information. Handheld electronic dictionaries may not have so
much information and may not be available to all students
because of their high price. The CD, Internet and PC-based
dictionaries have enough information but access to these
dictionaries depends on availability of a computer. In our
study, we will investigate all these types of dictionaries to see
which type our students prefer, and use more frequently
SOURCES
How many?
• Almost everything in a lit review needs to be
referenced… including
–
–
–
–
theoretical ideas
terminological definitions
results other people got
methods other people used…
• How many source references needed?
– At least 100 for a PhD normally
– Remember to ensure that all sources mentioned in the
text are in the list of references at the end
– … and not to inflate that list with references not cited in
the text!
SOURCES
Which are appropriate?
• Clearly the sources chosen need to be good ones
connected with the topics that need to be covered.
• They need to represent the key figures who have
contributed to the field.
• They need to be up to date (e.g. not stop three years
before the thesis is submitted).
• I am not here going to cover how to look for suitable
sources to reference.
SOURCES
Common mistakes to spot: Authority of the
source
• In a thesis on motivation, naturally the definition of
the term is covered:
Motivation is defined as ‘the activation or energization of
goal-oriented behavior’ (Wikipedia, accessed 18/1/10)
• In a thesis on the learning of idioms, the term ‘idiom’
is defined:
The Oxford dictionary defines an idiom as ‘A form of
expression, grammatical construction, phrase, etc., peculiar to
a language’
• Talking about guessing the meanings of unknown
words from context (two errors here):
According to Scholfield (lectures Spring 2011), a problem with
this strategy is that many contexts do not supply enough
information to guess from with any success.
• In a thesis about acquisition of the English article
system we read (two errors here):
According to Krashen (cited in Ellis 1997), learners need
comprehensible input in order to acquire language.
Common mistakes to spot: Who is the source?
• Any comment on the references here?
Richards (2008) argues that the contrast between training and
development has been replaced by a reconsideration of the
nature of teacher learning, which is viewed as a form of
socialisation into the professional thinking and practices of a
community of practice. Similarly, according to Lantolf (2000),
teacher education is now also influenced by perspectives drawn
from sociocultural theory and the field of teacher cognition (Borg
2006) as cited by Richards in his paper and thus he says:
‘Becoming an English language teacher means becoming part of
a world-wide community of professionals with shared goals,
values, discourse, and practices but one with a self-critical view
of its own practices and a commitment to a transformative
approach to its own role’ (2008:161).
• What is the ambiguity here, which should be
avoided?
Bialystok (1987) feels that learning strategies are means to
exploit available knowledge to improve learning. Hence it is
important to teach students such strategies.
• And what may well be missing here?
Considerable studies on the relationship between strategy use
and language test performance have provided useful
descriptions and generated taxonomies; however, most of
them are neither supported by a firm theory of cognition nor
based on powerful statistical methods of analysis (Purpura,
1997)
Common mistakes to spot: Recency
• In a dissertation on vocabulary teaching we read:
The neglect of vocabulary in language study is borne out by
Wilkins who comments that "linguists have had remarkably
little to say about vocabulary and one can find very few studies
which could be of any practical interest to language teachers"
(1972:109)
• Talking about the interactive model of reading:
This model is quite a recent one, which is proposed by Rayner
and Pollatsek (1989).
PRESENTING INFORMATION FROM SOURCES
Where the source got the information from
• It needs to be clear whether what a quoted source says is:
(a) based on theory, or
(b) giving evidence from someone’s experience/opinion, or
(c) a report of empirical research.
• These different origins give the information different weight
in an argument. Here are some reports of what various
sources say about vocabulary learning and group work.
• What status (a,b,c) would each statement below have, do
you think? Which are not clear?
• What methods of reporting what sources say seem to
indicate which status?
•
Swain (1985) proposes that when learners are required to produce language
through speech or writing, and receive feedback from peers, their language
proficiency may be increased.
•
Caulk (1994) concludes that the suggestions made by 85% of college ESL students
for writing revision are effective.
•
Johnson, Johnson and Smith (1991) maintain that students can reach their learning
goals only if others in the group reach theirs.
•
Rewarding high-achieving students in a group may result in students either working
hard or having feelings of hostility towards the winners (Johnson and Johnson
1994).
•
Studies show that positive interdependence in a group promotes learning (Gabbert
et al. 1986).
•
According to Harkins and Petty (1982), when individual accountability is not
included in group work, some individuals may contribute little effort.
•
By exchanging knowledge in group work, individual’s learning is promoted (Johnson
and Johnson 1994).
•
Webb (2007) states that when help-givers give detailed explanations in a
collaborative learning group, they benefit from clarifying their own ideas.
•
It was found that a cooperative group with teacher and student processing performs
the best (Johnson et al. 1990).
•
Beck et al. (1987) suggest that a minimum of 12 exposures is required for learners to
be able use a word accurately.
•
Craik and Lockhart’s (1972) depth of processing hypothesis assumes that the more
attention learners give to new words, the greater the chance they will remember
them.
•
Two grade 8 learners of French worked together on a writing task and it emerged
that learners’ language proficiency may be enhanced through discussion of word
forms (Pica et al. 1989).
•
According to Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, cognitive functions are developed in
the social environment though interaction (Vygotsky 1978).
•
Gal’perin (1967) argues that after an interaction is internalised, it becomes mental
activity.
•
Research indicates that if students do not respond within one second, teachers may
repeat or rephrase the question (Rowe 1974).
•
Every student has his/her own favoured ways of obtaining and processing
information (Reid 1995).
•
As Donato and Lantolf (1990) pointed out, learner’s knowledge building can be
observed directly when speakers do problem solving tasks.
•
Vocabulary learning is heavily influenced by personality differences and a host of
other variables (Kojic-Sabo and Lightbown 1999).
•
Stice (1987) indicates that students can retain 90% of what they say as they do
something.
PRESENTING INFORMATION FROM SOURCES
THAT REPORT EMPIRICAL STUDIES
What to mention about each study?
• Except in purely theoretical research, much of a
literature review describes and discusses relevant
previous empirical (i.e. data gathering) studies.
• This inevitably involves giving mini summaries of each
study. But what should be in those summaries?
• A student is reviewing studies of planning and
reviewing for her study of Saudi university level
females writing in English. Primarily she wants to
report what they found about planning and reviewing.
Here are some studies she includes and how she
describes them:
• Graves and Murray (1980) found that planning includes making notes....
• Flower and Hayes (1981b) found that planning activities occurred when
writers paused...
• Sommers (1980) randomly chose forty writers, twenty experienced and
twenty freshmen or upper-level writers. Four revision operations have
been identified… <These are then described>
• Stallard (1974) compared the writing strategies of fifteen good senior
high school student writers with those of fifteen average writers.... and
categorised revisions... <Revision types are then described>
• The basic information given about each study varies.
What information minimally needs to be given about
each study, in addition to what the study found?
TALKING ABOUT SOURCES
The problem of ‘undercooking’
• You need to not just list what a lot of sources say
about the same topic, but at the very least point out
where they agree, where they differ, what the
consensus is….
• In a dissertation about anxiety experienced by
learners of languages, there is the following review
of what causes it:
• Any comment?
2.5 The sources of language anxiety
Kitano (2001) categorises the sources of foreign language anxiety as: … <6
are listed>
However, Ganschow and Sparks (1996) narrow the sources of foreign
language anxiety to components of oral performance anxiety… <3 given>
In addition Greer (1996) presents seven types of foreign language anxiety
sources that prevent FL learners from performing orally in front of their peers…….
What causes language anxiety?.... It appears that it can be provoked by both
academic and social contexts.
There are several sources that can cause language anxiety; for instance…. <4
listed>
Writing on the topic, Horwitz et al. (1986 p127) draw attention to three
sources of foreign language anxiety….
At last, it seems that communication apprehension, test anxiety, self
perception of language ability and fear of negative evaluation are the most
common sources of language anxiety. Thus these sources will be discussed in
depth.
<2.5.1…2.5.4 then cover those four in more detail>
• The above example avoided just listing what different
sources said because…
• It provided a synthesis, stating the consensus.
• But… what more could it do to be really ‘critical’?
TALKING ABOUT SOURCES
Coherence and logic
• One point should follow on from another, there
should not be contradictions, unacknowledged
repetition etc.
• For each of these examples, say what the coherence
problem is
• How might it have arisen?
• How can one solve it?
• In a thesis on dictionary use:
Hand held electronic (HHE) dictionaries are more portable than
a dictionary-sized book and can supply many items and a large
quantity of information. Furthermore they can provide
antonyms, idioms, synonyms, as well as store dictionaries for
several languages (Kent, 2001).
<13 lines later in the same paragraph...>
Zaher, Gupta and Olohan (1994) criticised HHE dictionaries
because they do not exploit fully the computer’s ability to
process and display lexical information .... They cannot be
modified and offer only limited facilities, usually translations.
Another shortcoming is that their small size makes operation
difficult,....
• In a dissertation on the strategies used by university
level learners of English writing both in L1 and in
English we read:
In a study of six EFL Chinese-speaking graduate students,
Arndt (1987) observed that the writing processes of the
subjects in L1, Chinese, were similar to those used in L2,
English. Each subject wrote one essay in Chinese and one
essay in English for the study. .... Arndt's study is very relevant
to ours as it compares L1 writing and EFL writing. ..... Arndt
found differences between L1 and L2 writing processes for
each subject, particularly in the area of vocabulary. She found
that the subjects "revised for word choice more in the L2 task
than in the L1 task...." (p265).
• In a lit review about dictionaries:
Barlow (1996) claims that dictionaries do not have enough
context to be of any value to language learners.
<nine pages later> Wichmann (1995) used corpora to teach
German. She did this because, in her opinion, dictionaries do
not give enough contextual meaning.
<43 pages later> Dictionaries may lack a sufficient amount of
context to be of any real use to L2 learners. Barlow (1996)
claims that dictionaries do not have a context that is rich
enough.
Coherence with common sense expectation
• Sometimes a reader who is not a specialist, but
brings only general knowledge to the dissertation,
finds strange things said
• Do the following make sense?
• Can they be reworded to make better sense?
Hand held electronic dictionaries are helpful in occasions
requiring speed like a test situation.
...the L1's role in L2 writing was viewed as a primary source of
content and vocabulary...
The students are tested on reading comprehension, recitation
of poems, dictation, writing skills, grammar and translation.
There is no testing of speaking and listening skills.
TALKING ABOUT SOURCES:
Cohesion using overt markers
• There are connecters in each of these that seem to
convey a meaning that does not make sense. Explain
each one.
• What would be a better connecter?
• The thesis on dictionary use:
Most of ESL students prefer to use electronic dictionaries
because it is fast, portable and easy to use. It saves time and
effort. ........ On the other hand, translation students mainly
use HHE dictionaries because it is fast, easy to use, portable,
and saves time.....
• And again:
The study <Tono 1984> found that these users tend to choose
the first definition of an entry. Only if the information in the
dictionary indicated the inappropriacy of the first definition
did they move to the next one. When the second one was also
inadequate, they moved to the third one and so forth. ....
Furthermore, the subjects seem not to read whole entries but
would rather stop searching for the required meaning as soon
as possible.
• Thesis on learners writing in English, talking about
the role of L1 in the writing process:
As this section will show, the studies that deal with the writing
strategies of EFL students as they write in the native language and
English are very few. Hence, researchers have found evidence of the
transfer of first language writing skills and strategies to the second
language.
• Why does the second sentence not quite follow the
first?
Many studies have shown that readers vary in their awareness of
the structural properties of texts (e.g. narrative, expository) and that
this affects their comprehension of texts. Another variable that
affects readers’ strategic processing of narrative and expository
texts is the assigned goals or purposes for reading the texts.
• Defining ‘culture’:
Robert Lado (1957), a famous linguist, defines cultures as
“structured systems of patterned behaviour”. Similarly ,
Spradley (1980:10), a well known ethnographer, states that
culture involves three fundamental aspects of human
experience: cultural behaviour (what people do), cultural
knowledge (what people know), and cultural artifacts (what
things people make and use). Therefore, culture is “the
knowledge that people have learnt as members of a group.”
Byram (1989) sees culture as the way of life of the foreign
country, including its arts, philosophy and ‘high culture’ in
general.
TALKING ABOUT SOURCES
Showing reasons
• A very important kind of connector in a thesis is the
sort that connects the reason for something to what
is explained.
• In the examples below, what reason is given for
what?
• Are the reasons good reasons?
Foreign language anxiety can be defined as “a distinct
complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors …
arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process”
(Horwitz et al. 1986 p128). Therefore it seems that anxiety
influences language learning.
Second language learners can use corpora through a
concordancing program because corpora provide authentic
data.
RELEVANCE:
Showing connection with your own study
• Definition of a literature review on the WWW
A literature review is a description of the literature relevant to a
particular field or topic. It gives an overview of what has been said,
who the key writers are, what are the prevailing theories and
hypotheses, what questions are being asked, and what methods and
methodologies are appropriate and useful. As such, it is not in itself
primary research, but rather it reports on other findings.
• Do you agree?
• One may deal with sources properly in all the ways
we mentioned above but still fail to write a good lit
review because relevance is left too much to the
reader to guess at
RELEVANCE
Make it explicit: Use ‘signposts’
• A study evaluating a primary school English program
• What needs to be said next at the end of this?
There are two different categories of purposes of evaluation. The first is specific
purposes, which are various because they are topic-related purposes. The second
category is general purposes (Rea-Dickins and Germaine 1992), which will be
discussed in this section. Kiely and Rea-Dickins (2005) identify two different general
purposes, evaluation for ‘program accountability’ and evaluation for ‘program
development’. In addition Rea-Dickins and Germaine (1992) suggest three general
purposes, namely evaluation for ‘accountability’, evaluation for ‘teacher
development’ and evaluation for ‘curriculum development’.
• Signpost your purpose, otherwise the reader
wonders why you are saying all this
• A study of teacher feedback on writing
• What needs to be said next at the end of this short
subsection?
2.15.3 Comprehensive vs selective error feedback
A prominent challenge to writing teachers is whether they provide
comprehensive or selective marking. To avoid fossilisation, some teachers
prefer to give comprehensive marking to their students (e.g. Lee 2004;
Lalande 1982), while others would rather use the selective method, which
they believe is easier for students to handle (Ferris 1995b; Hendricson 1978).
Huang (2006) argued that selective marking has some advantages, such as
helping students to focus on specific patterns of mistakes and make codes
much simpler for students to understand.
• Signpost your research question
• The study is evaluating a primary school English
program (age 10 or so) in Saudi Arabia. There is a
review of evaluation studies regarded as relevant.
• Which should be signposted as most relevant? Why?
Could some be omitted?
• What would be the best order to follow in dealing
with them?
Many evaluation studies of programs have been carried out
round the world. The researcher will now present some studies
conducted in countries where English is taught as a foreign
language….
Obeidat (1985) evaluated the EFL program used at community
colleges in Jordan (accessing 105 students with an average age of
22)….
Magableh (1991) attempted to find out student perspectives of
an EFL program taught at the High College for Teachers’
Qualifications in Irbid….
Wang and Hui (1996) evaluated the English program at FongShin Senior High School in Taiwan…
Al-Jarrah (1987) conducted a study to evaluate the course book
used by fifth and sixth grade students in public schools in Jordan…
Al Nafisah (2001) conducted a study to evaluate the
methodology and curriculum of English in the secondary and
intermediate stages of public schools in Saudi Arabia…
Al-Shammari (2005) conducted a study evaluating textbooks of
the first and second intermediate grades in Hail city in KSA….
• A student is reviewing research studies in preparation
for her own study of vocabulary strategies of
university level learners of English in Taiwan.
• Which of these are most relevant? Which are least
relevant?
• How could these statements be improved to show
their relevance in this respect better?
Studies show that matching teaching and learning style can enhance
achievement at the college level (Brown 1978)….
Gu and Johnson (1996) found that the strategy of visual repetition was
the strongest negative predictor of learning outcome. ….
Stice (1987) indicates that students can retain 90% of what they say as
they do something….
Cohen and Aphek (1980) find that students of Hebrew who used paired
associations have better performance than those who don’t….
Schmitt’s (1997) survey of first and fourth year Japanese learners of
English showed differences in use of learning strategies….
New words used in productive exercises lead to better retention than
those used in receptive ones (Ellis and He 1999)….
The keyword method has been shown to be effective: for example, the
Russian word for battleship is ‘linkor’, and American learners can use the
key word ‘Lincoln’ to help remember it (Schmitt and McCarthy 1997)….
• So….
• Signpost which studies have results that might
provide expectations for your study (aka
hypotheses), which not
• Lack of signposts is one problem, but signposts may
be included and still be unsatisfactory
• Here a writer is trying to connect with his own study,
but is the reasoning clear in each case?
Research by Shepard (1992) and Goring-Kepner (1990) found that
there is not any constructive result from teacher error correction.
However, students who received content feedback demonstrated
notably correct grammar. It is worth mentioning that the feedback
on form has several types such as grammar, spelling and
punctuation. Therefore, the study will be focused on grammatical
feedback.
The above model does not suit our purpose so we will merge it with
the next one.
RELEVANCE
Review methods as well as findings
• It is often a good idea to review methods other
people used, as well as what results they obtained
• ….but of course again links need to be made to your
own study
• Has the writer effectively signposted what method he
will be using and why?
2.8 Ways to measure foreign language anxiety
Casado and Dereshiwsky (2001:540) hypothesise that foreign
language anxiety can be measured in three ways. The first is
from observation of participants’ behaviour. Second is by self
reports by L2 learners about their feelings. The third measure
is clinical tests whereby heartbeat, pulse and blood pressure
are taken. These researchers claim that observation and self
reports might not be as effective as clinical tests. Nevertheless,
they are more accurate in measuring foreign language anxiety
than the clinical tests which measure physical symptoms
related indirectly to such a concept.
• What more does the researcher need to say?
The evaluation process may be carried out by internal
evaluators such as teachers, or external evaluators such as a
group of professional evaluators, or both (Bazergan et al
1995). Allison (1999) argues that both types of evaluator have
their advantages and drawbacks. He adds that a combination
of both will lead to a deeper investigation that will help in
making judgments and decisions. In this study, only the
researcher will evaluate the program, which means it will be
evaluated by an internal evaluation.
• Is a good reason given for the researcher’s choice for
her own study?
Perceptual (sensory) learning styles
This learning styles model is named differently by researchers,
for example, Tamblin and Ward (2006) call it VAKT (Visual,
Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Tactile) and Dornyei (2005) calls them
'Sensory Preferences'. However, this study will consider
kinaesthetic and tactile learners linked, because the
instrument used to measure the participants' sensory
preference does not distinguish between the two.
RELEVANCE
Be selective
• When talking about other people's studies, it is
important NOT necessarily to summarise everything
in every study, but to pick out the bits that are
relevant to your own project and say how they are
relevant. It is a matter of who is in charge of what is
talked about in your review...
• You, and the interests of your research
• OR
• The authors of the studies you are talking about, and
the interests of their research?
• A student reviewing a study wrote:
The other tasks in the study are irrelevant to us. They consist
of... <10 lines of description of these tasks follow>
• A student reviewing causes of learner anxiety writes
this. Is it all relevant, or does the paragraph ‘wander
off’?
Sato (2003) summarizes some causes of anxiety. The first is the
nature or type of teaching. That is to say the huge number of
students in the classroom limits their ability to participate and
makes them passive learners. Thus classrooms become
teacher centred. Furthermore, classes with over 40 students
will produce noise and chaos for both the teacher and
students.
• The study is of what sort of English tourism workers
in Mexico need to read in their jobs. Has she said
enough?
Jasso-Aguilar (1999) found out that maids at a Hotel in
Waikiki “identified their daily room assignment as reading and
writing needs for the job”. (Jasso-Aguilar, 1999: 44). This is
related to the present research since the subjects also belong
to the field of tourism and are likely to deal with tourists and
to perform activities related to tourism matters although their
range of activities may be different, also because one of the
expressed needs of these subjects is that of reading
comprehension in the field of tourism which is one of the
variables in the present study.
• The study is of students and teachers in a Saudi
university: availability to them of computers, their
use of and attitudes to computers for learning
English.
The meta-analysis study of Chua, Chen, & Wong (1999)
stressed that computer anxiety is strongly related to computer
experience. Their study suggested that the more computer
experience the students have, the less computer anxiety they
show and vice versa. Igbaria & Chakrabarti (1990) assessed
187 graduate students to examine the effect of computer
experience on computer anxiety. They concluded that
computer training decreased students’ computer anxiety and
indirectly played a role in students’ attitude toward
computers. ………
•
....... Similar findings by Al Shammari’s study (2007) which
investigated the effects of computer knowledge and
experience on the attitude of EFL learners at IPA in Saudi
Arabia .Computer knowledge of IPA learners was defined by
combination of four dimensions: computer ownership, years
of computer experience, hours of daily use, and selfevaluation of computer experience. The results revealed that
computer knowledge was a key feature in the formation of the
learners' attitudes toward CALL. Particularly, hours of daily
computer use and self evaluation of computer experience
were the highly significant components of the computer
knowledge variable which means the more daily exposure to
computers the learners have and the higher they consider
their computer level, the more the positive attitudes toward
CALL they hold.
RELEVANCE
Avoid ‘garden path’ statements
• A good lit review will highlight gaps in the research
area which the researcher’s study will fill… BUT
• ‘Garden path’ statements are statements that lead
the reader to expect that your own study later may
be about something which it is not actually about.
• In each of these, what is the false expectation
created? What could the writer say to make the path
of what is said lead to his/her own thesis topic?
• The thesis is about the vocabulary learning strategies
that learners use.
Studies have shown differing results about the effectiveness of
strategy instruction, pointing to the need for further studies in
this area.
• A thesis about reading comprehension strategies
used by Saudi university students.
In most English departments in Saudi Arabian universities,
critical reading skills are integral for fulfilling course
requirements and assessment criteria
• The thesis is about the nature and effectiveness of
teacher training in Pakistan
The poor proficiency in English of students in Pakistan can be
attributed to a number of factors, primarily the difficult
literary texts in the required syllabus, the length of the
syllabus, large classes, an examination system which
encourages rote learning, and so forth.
• A student who later does a study of low proficiency
learners using a corpus of English writes this:
Context becomes an issue when learners’ proficiency is too
low to guess the meaning of words from context. In this case
using a parallel corpus could be a solution (St John 2001).
RELEVANCE
Observe the logical order of events in your
thesis/dissertation
• Relevant…. but why is this a No No in the lit review?!
Raimes reports that low proficiency writers do less planning,
but our study does not confirm this finding.
FINALLY
• Avoid statements which sound good but are basically
vacuous
The ability to read and write is always at the heart of
many countries’ efforts towards literacy development.
This research endeavors to answer the questions raised
by the research topic and to shed light on factors associated
with the research.
• .... And try to avoid purely language problems
such as
– Typo malapropisms
– Needless repetition of words
– Unsophisticated / nonacademic wording
– Poor collocations
– Poor lexico-dependent grammar
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