Identifying the Gap: Conclusion Paragraph of Level 1 Heading

What’s the Gap?

There are several jobs of the literature review of your dissertation. The first is to show that there is a need for your study, therefore it is justified. Another important job is to identify what literature has not been done on the topic or in other words, what is still not fully understood.  You need to have read A LOT of research to figure this out. You will not cite everything you read, but ALL of your reading is what helps you to be able to stand up in the end, and declare the gap.

You have a gap if the research related to the level 1 topic heading:

  • has not been studied with a certain population
  • has been studied in some content areas but not “yours”
  • has been primarily studied using a single methodology
  • there is research on two sides of an issue and more research is still needed to help further understanding
  • includes poor quality research (usually research design or implementation)
  • is built on an incorrect assumption
  • consistently uses the same conceptual framework and therefore lacks multiple views of the issues (you will propose an innovative way)

But what if you didn’t find a gap for a certain level 1 heading? That’s fine! In that case you will review the consensus on the topic and how reliable that consensus is.

While you are likely to be discussing the gap and consensus as it comes up in the body paragraphs of the level 1 writing, I am suggesting that you dedicate one full paragraph at the end of each APA level 1 heading of your literature review to stand up on a rock, fist pump in the air, and boldly identify and declare the gap!

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Last Paragraph in Each Lit Review APA Level 1 Heading

Let’s talk about the last paragraph of an APA Level 1 Heading in your literature review. This paragraph is not really a summary of what was in the section; rather, it is a well thought out synthesis of the topic and related to your proposed study. Note: This applies only to the literature review, section of chapter 2, not all sections in chapters 1-3.

The purposes of this paragraph may differ slightly depending on what you’ve found in the literature, but may include any or all of the following:

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Twitter as Teacher PD Part 2

In part 1 of my series titled “Twitter for Innovative Thinkers,” I shared a tutorial titled Educator’s Guide to Twitter: The Profile Page. In that video I provide an explanation of how Twitter is used by the movers and shakers in education, and did my best to convince you that Twitter is really a gold mine of professional development. I’m now introducing Part 2 of the series, and I’ve titled this one “Hashtags and other Twitter Terms I don’t know.”

In this tutorial, I walk you through the elements of a tweet, so that you can be an intelligent consumer of information you come across on Twitter. I also provide tips for when you’re ready to move into the contributing phase of social media and show you how to engage with tweets responsibly. By the end of this tutorial, You’ll be able to use hashtags to find new people to follow, and have a strategic plan in how to connect with some amazing people on Twitter.

I will also take this time to share my favorite people to follow.

@alicekeeler = Alice Keeler Google Certified Teacher

@gcouros = George Couros author of “The Innovator’s Mindset”

@cultofpedagogy = Jennifer Gonzalez co-author of “Hacking Education”

And my favorite Hashtags

#WUInnCurr – our EDPD 8012 course hashtag. As you find resources that align with topics of our course related to Innovative Curriculum, share them with us by using this tag.

#innovatorsmindset – George Couros’ book title and all things innovative

#TTOG – teachers throwing out grades

#21stedchat – 21st century education discussion

#edsocialmedia – using social media in the classroom

#hacklearning – great innovative ideas and I LOVE their Twitter chats

#TEDedChat – Discussion about Ted Ed topics

#globaled – globally connected educators

#edumatch – connecting educators to educators

If my tutorials have helped motivate you to spread your wings and reach out on Twitter, let me know. My Twitter handle is @djSTEMmom. I’ll see you soon!

Twitter as Professional Development

As a PhD candidate, maybe you think you’re above Twitter. Maybe you’ve only seen it used for egotistical self promotion, or worse just to share with the world what someone ate for lunch. However, I’m here to say that Twitter is actually the best way to connect quickly with teachers of like-mindedness, as well as with teachers who will boggle your mind with what they do in their classroom. Twitter is a powerful learning tool for educators.

While George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset, doesn’t say you HAVE to be on Twitter to be innovative, he has said, that many teachers who are innovative happen to be on Twitter. There’s just something about connecting with other educators around the world that helps us to have a more balanced and global approach to what we do in the classroom.

To encourage you to consider Twitter as a viable professional development (PD) tool, I’ve   started a tutorial series titled “Twitter for Innovative Thinkers.” Part 1 is called “Educator’s Guide to Twitter: The Profile Page.”  In this first tutorial I explain how Twitter is used by innovative people (compared to popular culture) and  I then go through the elements of a Twitter profile page to prepare YOU to set up our own account.

In Part 2 titled “Hashtags and other Twitter Terms I Don’t Know” I will share the construction of a tweet along with the importance of a hashtag.  Coming soon.

I double-dog dare you to open a Twitter account today and begin experiencing learning (as a teacher) like never before! Have Fun!

~Dr. Darci Harland

Be the Glue: Writing Sticky Sentences

Have you ever received feedback on your academic writing that sounds like this?

This paragraph lacks cohesion.
Add more synthesis, please.
This is all summary.
Where is the analysis of these studies?
Why does this matter?

If so, its likely that you need to work on being the glue!

gluesticky_noabd4me

Hopefully you know about the MEAL plan. Walden’s Writing Center has done an outstanding job of providing a model for writing strong academic-toned paragraphs. Here is what MEAL stands for.

M = Main idea = Topic Sentence
E = Evidence = Facts from research studies
A = Analysis = You Be the Glue
L = Lead Out = Your voice summarizing

I find that once students begin to understand the importance of strong topic sentences and lead out sentences, most learn to use them consistently. However learning to do the analysis well is where most students struggle. I have started calling this “the glue” and urge writers to “Be the Glue!” I find myself asking students for more sticky sentences that will pull the citations they are using into a coherent review of the literature.

WU Writing Center stated

Analysis should function as both the “you” (your unique interpretation of evidence) and the “glue” (a clear linkage among pieces of evidence and between evidence and the topic sentence) in every paragraph.

Glue + You = Analysis

Even if you agree with my argument for the importance of having analysis in every paragraph, you probably know how difficult it is to write well. You might be asking yourself, How do I transition from the evidence to analysis? I probably can’t just say “I believe this is important because….” or “This matters because…..” So how do I do it? I’m going to break my answer to this into two parts. First, I will provide tips for how you interpret the evidence and second, tips for linking evidence together. I will conclude with tips on what to avoid when writing these sticky sentences.

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How Writing a Literature Review is like Hosting a Dinner Party

Writing a literature review is like hosting a dinner party.  Don’t you just love a good analogy?

As a literature review writer, or dinner host, it is your job to invite everyone who has done research to debate on a specific topic around your dinner table. Those researchers who’ve published in the last 5 years have priority seating—but big wigs in the field should also attend.

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As the host, it is your job is to listen to your guests, ask probing questions, encourage academic debate, find holes in each other’s research, and to discuss what is still yet to be studied.

Now, let’s listen in on a dinner party much as I describe above. Close your eyes and listen to the clanking of utensils on dishes. Do you hear the various voices and tones? Do you smell the seared steak and steamed vegetables? Do you feel the warmth of the candlelight centerpiece on your face?

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Writing the Implications Section: Explaining How Your Study Contributes to Positive Social Change

Before writing the implications section of chapter 5, I suggest you go back and read your significance section from chapter 1. [Learn more about what should be in a significance section.] When you were proposing your study, what potential did you think the data may provide? Now that you have your data, has your perspective changed? You should touch on these themes in the implications section. It is also a good time to review your study alignment. Step back, remember the problem you set out to address. The problem aligned to the purpose, which led to your research questions then methodology. It is in the implication section that you finally share what your study means for society. You finally get to answer the question, “Who Cares?” in relation to your study results. This really is the fun part!

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As should be your habit by now, go to the dissertation checklist. Scroll down to chapter 5 and find the Implications heading. Now, write a topic sentence for this section that aligns with what is required. Here is an example of what that might look like.

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Significance of Your Study Answers “Who Cares?”

With Walden’s positive social change mission, your dissertation research study must be more than simply a study of an interesting topic. It must make a difference. While it doesn’t have to change the world, you will need to carefully and accurately describe how your study will make an impact. Essentially you’re answering the question, “Who Cares?’

You will write an APA level 1 heading titled “Significance” in the prospectus and in Chapter 1 of your dissertation. If you follow the Walden dissertation checklist while writing the prospectus, once it is approved you’ll be able to copy and paste it into the dissertation template and confidently say, you’ve begun your dissertation!

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According to the Walden Dissertation checklist, under Chapter 1, you must address three areas related to significance.

  • Identify potential contributions of the study that advance knowledge in the discipline. This is an elaboration of what the problem addresses.
  • Identify potential contributions of the study that advance practice and/or policy (as applicable).
  • Describe potential implications for positive social change that are consistent with and bounded by the scope of the study.

Here is an exemplar of significance statement from a published article.

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Align Align Align

At the Walden residencies one of the themes you hear over and over again is Align, Align, Align. But what does that really mean? Alignment refers to the elements of a research study building on one another in a logical manner.

At residency 3 you work on the historic alignment tool, or the HAT. This tool helps you accomplish the alignment of the main elements of a research study. One element leads to the next, which leads to the next. If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, the study is not aligned.

  • Does the background research show evidence of a problem?
  • Is there a gap in understanding of the problem?
  • Does the problem align to the purpose?
  • Does the purpose align to the research question?
  • Does the theoretical or conceptual framework logically help answer the research questions?
  • Does the research question drive the methodology?

These are the exact questions your mentor, methodologist, and the URR will be asking when reviewing your premise, prospectus, proposal, and final dissertation. So, how do you keep alignment in the forefront of your mind when entertaining potential ideas for a research study? An important step is to realize that the central research question will determine the wording of both the purpose statement and the dissertation title.

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The purpose statement, the central research question, and the dissertation title should all be parallel, and quite possibly word for word the same.

Purpose = Central Research Question = Dissertation Title

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Using Scholarly Argument in your Literature Review

Literature Review is More Than a Summary of the Research Studies on Your Topic

Think of the literature review as a persuasive argument for why your study needs to be done. However, scholarly arguments are not like the persuasive essays you may have written in the past. Instead, you use facts, found in empirical research to show your reader what is going on in your field and within your topic. Your argument will be stronger based on the quality of the resources, how you organize the facts, and the logic you use to connect facts to your study.

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However, there are a number of qualities that scholarly arguments should not include. The first is vocabulary that evokes emotion. While you should be passionate about your study, you are writing an academic, scholarly argument. The facts, not emotion should make the argument. Next, scholarly arguments should not be degree-indicating. Do not use words such as, very, fantastic, amazing etc.. Continue reading

Tagging Part 2

Tagging Part 2: Digitizing Tags for a Reliable Cross-Referencing System

In my Tagging Part 1 post, I define what a tag is, describe why you should consider using tags, and then give examples of how to assign tags to research article you read for your dissertation. In this post, Tagging, Part 2, I will address the number of tags you might assign each article, and then how to use the tags as part of a larger, digital cross-referencing organizational structure.

Tags Part 2

How many tags should I assign to each article?

It depends. For example, you might have found this article…

Fram, S.M. (2013). The constant comparative analysis method outside of grounded theory. The Qualitative Report, 18(1), 1-25. Retrieved http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR18/fram1.pdf

…and decided to tag it with the big picture tags

mych1; mych3

But you might also want to further determine where in those chapters the article may help. Therefore, you could ALSO add APA Heading tags. I might choose

myNoS; myDataAnal

To further narrow the usefulness of the article, you might choose to use the Library Sub-Question Letters as an additional tag.

LibSubQE

FYI: LibSubQ-E is “Why is the methodology I’m proposing the best choice to address the problem I’ve identified?” You can learn more about LibSubQ’s in my NoteTaking post.

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