Literature Review & EDR

Though I have written many literature reviews in the past through both my educational technology and history degrees, the experience of writing a literature review for an EDR study is unique. Though literature reviews for studies of all methods are used to inform the background and purpose for the research questions being asked, a deeper level of ambiguity exists when developing an EDR study due to the issue of context. Researchers conducting a literature review in the analysis portion of EDR must simultaneously consider both the context of the research setting as well as the knowledge existing in the literature.

While writing my literature review for my EDR proposal, I found it difficult to focus. Generally, when I design a proposal on a non-EDR study, I have some sort of hypothesis about how the study will turn out.  However, the problem I have chosen for this EDR proposal is complex and I am not sure how it will result. In essence, I have no answers – just lots of questions. This situation makes it difficult to craft a literature review because I don’t know what situations will inevitably arise later in the study. I have wondered if this is a common experience among researchers conducting an EDR. Is it common to return to the literature review and updated it in the midst of an EDR? I can envision this being a possibility.

Another muddy point I had while conducting my literature review was a distinct lack of research tying the various components of my study together (media literacy education, higher education history, and active learning). Though topics in the articles referenced other topics, there was no single article uniting them. It occurred to me that if my study was conducted, it could be the piece of literature connecting the three areas – a feature which I think is unique to EDR. This lack of information also made it clear why the field-based investigation is a crucial component during the analysis phase of EDR.

Overall, I found myself struggling to craft the literature review and find key studies to help piece together background information necessary. I don’t know how much of this is the lack of pedagogical studies conducted by history faculty (in comparison to other fields) or if it is a typical experience in crafting a literature review for an EDR study. Perhaps it is this lack of knowledge about a problem that makes the EDR study so unique. As we continue through the process of learning about EDR, I cannot help but continue to associate it with the idea European explorers of the 15th century (think Columbus). Those who conduct EDR are truly exploring the major issues of education as they occur at a grand scale. I see lots of potential benefits from this kind of work.

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