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Research Topics & Ideas: Education

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Topic Kickstarter: Research topics in education

If you’re just starting out exploring education-related topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll help kickstart your research topic ideation process by providing a hearty list of research topics and ideas , including examples from actual dissertations and theses..

PS – This is just the start…

We know it’s exciting to run through a list of research topics, but please keep in mind that this list is just a starting point . To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , and a viable plan of action to fill that gap.

If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch. Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help, consider our 1-on-1 coaching service .

Overview: Education Research Topics

  • How to find a research topic (video)
  • List of 50+ education-related research topics/ideas
  • List of 120+ level-specific research topics 
  • Examples of actual dissertation topics in education
  • Tips to fast-track your topic ideation (video)
  • Free Webinar : Topic Ideation 101
  • Where to get extra help

Education-Related Research Topics & Ideas

Below you’ll find a list of education-related research topics and idea kickstarters. These are fairly broad and flexible to various contexts, so keep in mind that you will need to refine them a little. Nevertheless, they should inspire some ideas for your project.

  • The impact of school funding on student achievement
  • The effects of social and emotional learning on student well-being
  • The effects of parental involvement on student behaviour
  • The impact of teacher training on student learning
  • The impact of classroom design on student learning
  • The impact of poverty on education
  • The use of student data to inform instruction
  • The role of parental involvement in education
  • The effects of mindfulness practices in the classroom
  • The use of technology in the classroom
  • The role of critical thinking in education
  • The use of formative and summative assessments in the classroom
  • The use of differentiated instruction in the classroom
  • The use of gamification in education
  • The effects of teacher burnout on student learning
  • The impact of school leadership on student achievement
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student outcomes
  • The role of teacher collaboration in improving student outcomes
  • The implementation of blended and online learning
  • The effects of teacher accountability on student achievement
  • The effects of standardized testing on student learning
  • The effects of classroom management on student behaviour
  • The effects of school culture on student achievement
  • The use of student-centred learning in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student outcomes
  • The achievement gap in minority and low-income students
  • The use of culturally responsive teaching in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher professional development on student learning
  • The use of project-based learning in the classroom
  • The effects of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The use of adaptive learning technology in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher turnover on student learning
  • The effects of teacher recruitment and retention on student learning
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic success
  • The impact of parental involvement on student engagement
  • The use of positive reinforcement in education
  • The impact of school climate on student engagement
  • The role of STEM education in preparing students for the workforce
  • The effects of school choice on student achievement
  • The use of technology in the form of online tutoring

Level-Specific Research Topics

Looking for research topics for a specific level of education? We’ve got you covered. Below you can find research topic ideas for primary, secondary and tertiary-level education contexts. Click the relevant level to view the respective list.

Research Topics: Pick An Education Level

Primary education.

  • Investigating the effects of peer tutoring on academic achievement in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of mindfulness practices in primary school classrooms
  • Examining the effects of different teaching strategies on primary school students’ problem-solving skills
  • The use of storytelling as a teaching strategy in primary school literacy instruction
  • The role of cultural diversity in promoting tolerance and understanding in primary schools
  • The impact of character education programs on moral development in primary school students
  • Investigating the use of technology in enhancing primary school mathematics education
  • The impact of inclusive curriculum on promoting equity and diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of outdoor education programs on environmental awareness in primary school students
  • The influence of school climate on student motivation and engagement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of early literacy interventions on reading comprehension in primary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student achievement in primary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of inclusive education for students with special needs in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of teacher-student feedback on academic motivation in primary schools
  • The role of technology in developing digital literacy skills in primary school students
  • Effective strategies for fostering a growth mindset in primary school students
  • Investigating the role of parental support in reducing academic stress in primary school children
  • The role of arts education in fostering creativity and self-expression in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of early childhood education programs on primary school readiness
  • Examining the effects of homework on primary school students’ academic performance
  • The role of formative assessment in improving learning outcomes in primary school classrooms
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic outcomes in primary school
  • Investigating the effects of classroom environment on student behavior and learning outcomes in primary schools
  • Investigating the role of creativity and imagination in primary school curriculum
  • The impact of nutrition and healthy eating programs on academic performance in primary schools
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on primary school students’ well-being and academic performance
  • The role of parental involvement in academic achievement of primary school children
  • Examining the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior in primary school
  • The role of school leadership in creating a positive school climate Exploring the benefits of bilingual education in primary schools
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in developing critical thinking skills in primary school students
  • The role of inquiry-based learning in fostering curiosity and critical thinking in primary school students
  • The effects of class size on student engagement and achievement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of recess and physical activity breaks on attention and learning in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of outdoor play in developing gross motor skills in primary school children
  • The effects of educational field trips on knowledge retention in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of inclusive classroom practices on students’ attitudes towards diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of parental involvement in homework on primary school students’ academic achievement
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different assessment methods in primary school classrooms
  • The influence of physical activity and exercise on cognitive development in primary school children
  • Exploring the benefits of cooperative learning in promoting social skills in primary school students

Secondary Education

  • Investigating the effects of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic success in secondary education
  • The role of social media in enhancing communication and collaboration among secondary school students
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of technology integration on teaching and learning in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of interdisciplinary instruction in promoting critical thinking skills in secondary schools
  • The impact of arts education on creativity and self-expression in secondary school students
  • The effectiveness of flipped classrooms in promoting student learning in secondary education
  • The role of career guidance programs in preparing secondary school students for future employment
  • Investigating the effects of student-centered learning approaches on student autonomy and academic success in secondary schools
  • The impact of socio-economic factors on educational attainment in secondary education
  • Investigating the impact of project-based learning on student engagement and academic achievement in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of multicultural education on cultural understanding and tolerance in secondary schools
  • The influence of standardized testing on teaching practices and student learning in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior and academic engagement in secondary education
  • The influence of teacher professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of extracurricular activities in promoting holistic development and well-roundedness in secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models on student engagement and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of physical education in promoting physical health and well-being among secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of gender on academic achievement and career aspirations in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of multicultural literature in promoting cultural awareness and empathy among secondary school students
  • The impact of school counseling services on student mental health and well-being in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of vocational education and training in preparing secondary school students for the workforce
  • The role of digital literacy in preparing secondary school students for the digital age
  • The influence of parental involvement on academic success and well-being of secondary school students
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on secondary school students’ well-being and academic success
  • The role of character education in fostering ethical and responsible behavior in secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of digital citizenship education on responsible and ethical technology use among secondary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of educational technology in promoting personalized learning experiences in secondary schools
  • The impact of inclusive education on the social and academic outcomes of students with disabilities in secondary schools
  • The influence of parental support on academic motivation and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of school climate in promoting positive behavior and well-being among secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of peer mentoring programs on academic achievement and social-emotional development in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of teacher-student relationships on student motivation and achievement in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning programs in promoting civic engagement among secondary school students
  • The impact of educational policies on educational equity and access in secondary education
  • Examining the effects of homework on academic achievement and student well-being in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of different assessment methods on student performance in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of single-sex education on academic performance and gender stereotypes in secondary schools
  • The role of mentoring programs in supporting the transition from secondary to post-secondary education

Tertiary Education

  • The role of student support services in promoting academic success and well-being in higher education
  • The impact of internationalization initiatives on students’ intercultural competence and global perspectives in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of active learning classrooms and learning spaces on student engagement and learning outcomes in tertiary education
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning experiences in fostering civic engagement and social responsibility in higher education
  • The influence of learning communities and collaborative learning environments on student academic and social integration in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of undergraduate research experiences in fostering critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills
  • Investigating the effects of academic advising and mentoring on student retention and degree completion in higher education
  • The role of student engagement and involvement in co-curricular activities on holistic student development in higher education
  • The impact of multicultural education on fostering cultural competence and diversity appreciation in higher education
  • The role of internships and work-integrated learning experiences in enhancing students’ employability and career outcomes
  • Examining the effects of assessment and feedback practices on student learning and academic achievement in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty-student relationships on student success and well-being in tertiary education
  • The impact of college transition programs on students’ academic and social adjustment to higher education
  • The impact of online learning platforms on student learning outcomes in higher education
  • The impact of financial aid and scholarships on access and persistence in higher education
  • The influence of student leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities on personal development and campus engagement
  • Exploring the benefits of competency-based education in developing job-specific skills in tertiary students
  • Examining the effects of flipped classroom models on student learning and retention in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of online collaboration and virtual team projects in developing teamwork skills in tertiary students
  • Investigating the effects of diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus climate and student experiences in tertiary education
  • The influence of study abroad programs on intercultural competence and global perspectives of college students
  • Investigating the effects of peer mentoring and tutoring programs on student retention and academic performance in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effectiveness of active learning strategies in promoting student engagement and achievement in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models and hybrid courses on student learning and satisfaction in higher education
  • The role of digital literacy and information literacy skills in supporting student success in the digital age
  • Investigating the effects of experiential learning opportunities on career readiness and employability of college students
  • The impact of e-portfolios on student reflection, self-assessment, and showcasing of learning in higher education
  • The role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning experiences in tertiary classrooms
  • The impact of research opportunities on undergraduate student engagement and pursuit of advanced degrees
  • Examining the effects of competency-based assessment on measuring student learning and achievement in tertiary education
  • Examining the effects of interdisciplinary programs and courses on critical thinking and problem-solving skills in college students
  • The role of inclusive education and accessibility in promoting equitable learning experiences for diverse student populations
  • The role of career counseling and guidance in supporting students’ career decision-making in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty diversity and representation on student success and inclusive learning environments in higher education

Research topic idea mega list

Education-Related Dissertations & Theses

While the ideas we’ve presented above are a decent starting point for finding a research topic in education, they are fairly generic and non-specific. So, it helps to look at actual dissertations and theses in the education space to see how this all comes together in practice.

Below, we’ve included a selection of education-related research projects to help refine your thinking. These are actual dissertations and theses, written as part of Master’s and PhD-level programs, so they can provide some useful insight as to what a research topic looks like in practice.

  • From Rural to Urban: Education Conditions of Migrant Children in China (Wang, 2019)
  • Energy Renovation While Learning English: A Guidebook for Elementary ESL Teachers (Yang, 2019)
  • A Reanalyses of Intercorrelational Matrices of Visual and Verbal Learners’ Abilities, Cognitive Styles, and Learning Preferences (Fox, 2020)
  • A study of the elementary math program utilized by a mid-Missouri school district (Barabas, 2020)
  • Instructor formative assessment practices in virtual learning environments : a posthumanist sociomaterial perspective (Burcks, 2019)
  • Higher education students services: a qualitative study of two mid-size universities’ direct exchange programs (Kinde, 2020)
  • Exploring editorial leadership : a qualitative study of scholastic journalism advisers teaching leadership in Missouri secondary schools (Lewis, 2020)
  • Selling the virtual university: a multimodal discourse analysis of marketing for online learning (Ludwig, 2020)
  • Advocacy and accountability in school counselling: assessing the use of data as related to professional self-efficacy (Matthews, 2020)
  • The use of an application screening assessment as a predictor of teaching retention at a midwestern, K-12, public school district (Scarbrough, 2020)
  • Core values driving sustained elite performance cultures (Beiner, 2020)
  • Educative features of upper elementary Eureka math curriculum (Dwiggins, 2020)
  • How female principals nurture adult learning opportunities in successful high schools with challenging student demographics (Woodward, 2020)
  • The disproportionality of Black Males in Special Education: A Case Study Analysis of Educator Perceptions in a Southeastern Urban High School (McCrae, 2021)

As you can see, these research topics are a lot more focused than the generic topic ideas we presented earlier. So, in order for you to develop a high-quality research topic, you’ll need to get specific and laser-focused on a specific context with specific variables of interest.  In the video below, we explore some other important things you’ll need to consider when crafting your research topic.

Get 1-On-1 Help

If you’re still unsure about how to find a quality research topic within education, check out our Research Topic Kickstarter service, which is the perfect starting point for developing a unique, well-justified research topic.

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

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53 Comments

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Special education

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Research title related to students

Ngirumuvugizi Jaccques

Good idea I’m going to teach my colleagues

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You can find our list of nursing-related research topic ideas here: https://gradcoach.com/research-topics-nursing/

FOSU DORIS

Write on action research topic, using guidance and counseling to address unwanted teenage pregnancy in school

Samson ochuodho

Thanks a lot

Johaima

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Rhod Tuyan

Thank you for the information.. I would like to request a topic based on school major in social studies

Mercedes Bunsie

parental involvement and students academic performance

Abshir Mustafe Cali

Science education topics?

Karen Joy Andrade

How about School management and supervision pls.?

JOHANNES SERAME MONYATSI

Hi i am an Deputy Principal in a primary school. My wish is to srudy foe Master’s degree in Education.Please advice me on which topic can be relevant for me. Thanks.

NKWAIN Chia Charles

Every topic proposed above on primary education is a starting point for me. I appreciate immensely the team that has sat down to make a detail of these selected topics just for beginners like us. Be blessed.

Nkwain Chia Charles

Kindly help me with the research questions on the topic” Effects of workplace conflict on the employees’ job performance”. The effects can be applicable in every institution,enterprise or organisation.

Kelvin Kells Grant

Greetings, I am a student majoring in Sociology and minoring in Public Administration. I’m considering any recommended research topic in the field of Sociology.

Sulemana Alhassan

I’m a student pursuing Mphil in Basic education and I’m considering any recommended research proposal topic in my field of study

Kupoluyi Regina

Kindly help me with a research topic in educational psychology. Ph.D level. Thank you.

Project-based learning is a teaching/learning type,if well applied in a classroom setting will yield serious positive impact. What can a teacher do to implement this in a disadvantaged zone like “North West Region of Cameroon ( hinterland) where war has brought about prolonged and untold sufferings on the indegins?

Damaris Nzoka

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration PhD level

Sadaf

I am also looking for such type of title

Afriyie Saviour

I am a student of undergraduate, doing research on how to use guidance and counseling to address unwanted teenage pregnancy in school

wysax

the topics are very good regarding research & education .

William AU Mill

Can i request your suggestion topic for my Thesis about Teachers as an OFW. thanx you

ChRISTINE

Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education,PhD level

Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education

George

Hi 👋 I request that you help me with a written research proposal about education the format

Sarah Moyambo

l would like to request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

Ernest Gyabaah

I would to inquire on research topics on Educational psychology, Masters degree

Aron kirui

I am PhD student, I am searching my Research topic, It should be innovative,my area of interest is online education,use of technology in education

revathy a/p letchumanan

request suggestion on topic in masters in medical education .

D.Newlands PhD.

Look at British Library as they keep a copy of all PhDs in the UK Core.ac.uk to access Open University and 6 other university e-archives, pdf downloads mostly available, all free.

Monica

May I also ask for a topic based on mathematics education for college teaching, please?

Aman

Please I am a masters student of the department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education Please I am in need of proposed project topics to help with my final year thesis

Ellyjoy

Am a PhD student in Educational Foundations would like a sociological topic. Thank

muhammad sani

please i need a proposed thesis project regardging computer science

also916

Greetings and Regards I am a doctoral student in the field of philosophy of education. I am looking for a new topic for my thesis. Because of my work in the elementary school, I am looking for a topic that is from the field of elementary education and is related to the philosophy of education.

shantel orox

Masters student in the field of curriculum, any ideas of a research topic on low achiever students

Rey

In the field of curriculum any ideas of a research topic on deconalization in contextualization of digital teaching and learning through in higher education

Omada Victoria Enyojo

Amazing guidelines

JAMES MALUKI MUTIA

I am a graduate with two masters. 1) Master of arts in religious studies and 2) Master in education in foundations of education. I intend to do a Ph.D. on my second master’s, however, I need to bring both masters together through my Ph.D. research. can I do something like, ” The contribution of Philosophy of education for a quality religion education in Kenya”? kindly, assist and be free to suggest a similar topic that will bring together the two masters. thanks in advance

betiel

Hi, I am an Early childhood trainer as well as a researcher, I need more support on this topic: The impact of early childhood education on later academic success.

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In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Literature Reviews

Introduction, what is a literature review.

  • Literature Reviews for Thesis or Dissertation
  • Stand-alone and Systemic Reviews
  • Purposes of a Literature Review
  • Texts on Conducting a Literature Review
  • Identifying the Research Topic
  • The Persuasive Argument
  • Searching the Literature
  • Creating a Synthesis
  • Critiquing the Literature
  • Building the Case for the Literature Review Document
  • Presenting the Literature Review

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  • Higher Education Research
  • Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
  • Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Politics of Education
  • Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques

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Literature Reviews by Lawrence A. Machi , Brenda T. McEvoy LAST REVIEWED: 21 April 2021 LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016 DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0169

Literature reviews play a foundational role in the development and execution of a research project. They provide access to the academic conversation surrounding the topic of the proposed study. By engaging in this scholarly exercise, the researcher is able to learn and to share knowledge about the topic. The literature review acts as the springboard for new research, in that it lays out a logically argued case, founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about the topic. The case produced provides the justification for the research question or problem of a proposed study, and the methodological scheme best suited to conduct the research. It can also be a research project in itself, arguing policy or practice implementation, based on a comprehensive analysis of the research in a field. The term literature review can refer to the output or the product of a review. It can also refer to the process of Conducting a Literature Review . Novice researchers, when attempting their first research projects, tend to ask two questions: What is a Literature Review? How do you do one? While this annotated bibliography is neither definitive nor exhaustive in its treatment of the subject, it is designed to provide a beginning researcher, who is pursuing an academic degree, an entry point for answering the two previous questions. The article is divided into two parts. The first four sections of the article provide a general overview of the topic. They address definitions, types, purposes, and processes for doing a literature review. The second part presents the process and procedures for doing a literature review. Arranged in a sequential fashion, the remaining eight sections provide references addressing each step of the literature review process. References included in this article were selected based on their ability to assist the beginning researcher. Additionally, the authors attempted to include texts from various disciplines in social science to present various points of view on the subject.

Novice researchers often have a misguided perception of how to do a literature review and what the document should contain. Literature reviews are not narrative annotated bibliographies nor book reports (see Bruce 1994 ). Their form, function, and outcomes vary, due to how they depend on the research question, the standards and criteria of the academic discipline, and the orthodoxies of the research community charged with the research. The term literature review can refer to the process of doing a review as well as the product resulting from conducting a review. The product resulting from reviewing the literature is the concern of this section. Literature reviews for research studies at the master’s and doctoral levels have various definitions. Machi and McEvoy 2016 presents a general definition of a literature review. Lambert 2012 defines a literature review as a critical analysis of what is known about the study topic, the themes related to it, and the various perspectives expressed regarding the topic. Fink 2010 defines a literature review as a systematic review of existing body of data that identifies, evaluates, and synthesizes for explicit presentation. Jesson, et al. 2011 defines the literature review as a critical description and appraisal of a topic. Hart 1998 sees the literature review as producing two products: the presentation of information, ideas, data, and evidence to express viewpoints on the nature of the topic, as well as how it is to be investigated. When considering literature reviews beyond the novice level, Ridley 2012 defines and differentiates the systematic review from literature reviews associated with primary research conducted in academic degree programs of study, including stand-alone literature reviews. Cooper 1998 states the product of literature review is dependent on the research study’s goal and focus, and defines synthesis reviews as literature reviews that seek to summarize and draw conclusions from past empirical research to determine what issues have yet to be resolved. Theoretical reviews compare and contrast the predictive ability of theories that explain the phenomenon, arguing which theory holds the most validity in describing the nature of that phenomenon. Grant and Booth 2009 identified fourteen types of reviews used in both degree granting and advanced research projects, describing their attributes and methodologies.

Bruce, Christine Susan. 1994. Research students’ early experiences of the dissertation literature review. Studies in Higher Education 19.2: 217–229.

DOI: 10.1080/03075079412331382057

A phenomenological analysis was conducted with forty-one neophyte research scholars. The responses to the questions, “What do you mean when you use the words literature review?” and “What is the meaning of a literature review for your research?” identified six concepts. The results conclude that doing a literature review is a problem area for students.

Cooper, Harris. 1998. Synthesizing research . Vol. 2. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

The introductory chapter of this text provides a cogent explanation of Cooper’s understanding of literature reviews. Chapter 4 presents a comprehensive discussion of the synthesis review. Chapter 5 discusses meta-analysis and depth.

Fink, Arlene. 2010. Conducting research literature reviews: From the Internet to paper . 3d ed. Los Angeles: SAGE.

The first chapter of this text (pp. 1–16) provides a short but clear discussion of what a literature review is in reference to its application to a broad range of social sciences disciplines and their related professions.

Grant, Maria J., and Andrew Booth. 2009. A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal 26.2: 91–108. Print.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

This article reports a scoping review that was conducted using the “Search, Appraisal, Synthesis, and Analysis” (SALSA) framework. Fourteen literature review types and associated methodology make up the resulting typology. Each type is described by its key characteristics and analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses.

Hart, Chris. 1998. Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination . London: SAGE.

Chapter 1 of this text explains Hart’s definition of a literature review. Additionally, it describes the roles of the literature review, the skills of a literature reviewer, and the research context for a literature review. Of note is Hart’s discussion of the literature review requirements for master’s degree and doctoral degree work.

Jesson, Jill, Lydia Matheson, and Fiona M. Lacey. 2011. Doing your literature review: Traditional and systematic techniques . Los Angeles: SAGE.

Chapter 1: “Preliminaries” provides definitions of traditional and systematic reviews. It discusses the differences between them. Chapter 5 is dedicated to explaining the traditional review, while Chapter 7 explains the systematic review. Chapter 8 provides a detailed description of meta-analysis.

Lambert, Mike. 2012. A beginner’s guide to doing your education research project . Los Angeles: SAGE.

Chapter 6 (pp. 79–100) presents a thumbnail sketch for doing a literature review.

Machi, Lawrence A., and Brenda T. McEvoy. 2016. The literature review: Six steps to success . 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

The introduction of this text differentiates between a simple and an advanced review and concisely defines a literature review.

Ridley, Diana. 2012. The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students . 2d ed. Sage Study Skills. London: SAGE.

In the introductory chapter, Ridley reviews many definitions of the literature review, literature reviews at the master’s and doctoral level, and placement of literature reviews within the thesis or dissertation document. She also defines and differentiates literature reviews produced for degree-affiliated research from the more advanced systematic review projects.

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Literature Review Education Topics Worthy of In-Depth Research

Get education literature review topics to make yourself stand out.

You already know the scope of your study if you’re writing your literature review in the education field as a separate project or as part of your dissertation or thesis. Unfortunately, literature reviews in the education area take a long time to write. Worst of all, it’s not just reading. You also have to write down what you’ve learned. If you want to be certain that your education literature review will provide excellent outcomes, you should consider writing. It’s extremely relevant if you’re writing your literature review.

The more structured you are while writing a text on literature review education topics, the more likely you’re to succeed. If you have a well-thought-out approach to your education research, it is way easier. As you can see, meticulously planning every aspect of your education topic is essential.

The following will help you select education literature review topics for yourself:

  • Make sure you’re clear about the specific things you’ll be researching.
  • Consider all the benefits and drawbacks of diverse points of view.
  • Make a list of the categories of scholarly papers you want to find.
  • You must be sure that there will be plenty of great material.

During this preliminary step of making your literature review, remove any extraneous education sources and examine your future work critically to verify that everything is relevant.

Choose Literature Review Topics in Education in a Well-Structured Way

Because your research on literature review topics in education could take up to two months, selecting an educational subject matter is typically the most challenging task. Consequently, you must spend some time thinking about some good ideas for a literature review in the education field.

Simply jot down the following crucial points:

  • Whether you’ve examined the topic’s scope in great detail.
  • How interested in the subject of your literature review you are.
  • What aspects of your issue will make a significant difference in the field.
  • If your chosen education topic is appropriate for your academic setting.

Make sure the chosen ideas for your literature review education topics are relevant to the subject area. Here are several clues for you to solve this literature review issue this without much hassle:

  • Choose a wide topic area that interests you.
  • Look through the most recent journals on the topic.
  • Make a list of the articles that interest you the most.
  • Keep track of what gets the most attention.
  • Write down the best education topics.

The topic for your educational literature review will be chosen based on how well it meets all three criteria. Knowing where to look for education topics on the internet will help you get started. There’s a good chance you’re familiar with at least some of the themes for your literary reviews.

The following are literature review education topics for you to consider:

  • Early childhood education: learning through play.
  • Growing classes: do learning outcomes suffer from it?
  • What should a proper sex education program look like?
  • Reforming the school schedule: the most efficient solution.
  • How can career counseling support high school students?
  • From homeschooling to successful careers: an overview.
  • How to recognize which learning style a student needs?
  • The benefits of the flipped classroom approach.
  • Boarding schools: advantages & disadvantages.
  • Single-sex education vs. mixed-sex education.

Whatever ideas you choose for your literature review, you’ll need to stay current on advances in your field and choose a topic that’s relevant right now in the field.

literature review topics in education

Entrust Us With the Topic Selection for Your Literature Review

We are experts in providing literature review topics education field relates to. Our extensive literature review knowledge allows us to gain insight into what is currently popular in a variety of sectors, and our specialist authors are well-versed in the process. Our team excels in searching for a wide range of topics.

Our services are based on years of research experience in a variety of research topics on education, as well as topic updates that reflect current trends. You may rest knowing that you’re dealing with experts who are familiar with the subtleties of selecting topics for a literature study.

The ideal topics for literature review in education are possible to find if you use the proper technique. The strategy you take to identify a solid literature review topic differs depending on whether you’re writing your literature review as a separate assignment or performing the entire research.

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to do it excellently:

  • In the first scenario, carefully study the instructions and request clarification.
  • Examine academic educational publications for current research trends.
  • Keep an eye out on professional blogs for trending education topics.
  • Attend conferences to keep up with the most recent findings.
  • Communicate with experienced students and academics.

Competent people for who you reveal your genuine interest in the topic could assist you in explaining your problem and why it’s important for your literature review. The most significant thing is to pick ideas for your literature review that you enjoy because you’ll be working on it for a long time!

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Learning objectives.

At the conclusion of this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose of the literature review in  the research process
  • Distinguish between different types of literature reviews

1.1 What is a Literature Review?

Pick up nearly any book on research methods and you will find a description of a literature review.  At a basic level, the term implies a survey of factual or nonfiction books, articles, and other documents published on a particular subject.  Definitions may be similar across the disciplines, with new types and definitions continuing to emerge.  Generally speaking, a literature review is a:

  • “comprehensive background of the literature within the interested topic area…” ( O’Gorman & MacIntosh, 2015, p. 31 ).
  • “critical component of the research process that provides an in-depth analysis of recently published research findings in specifically identified areas of interest.” ( House, 2018, p. 109 ).
  • “written document that presents a logically argued case founded on a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge about a topic of study” ( Machi & McEvoy,  2012, p. 4 ).

As a foundation for knowledge advancement in every discipline, it is an important element of any research project.  At the graduate or doctoral level, the literature review is an essential feature of thesis and dissertation, as well as grant proposal writing.  That is to say, “A substantive, thorough, sophisticated literature review is a precondition for doing substantive, thorough, sophisticated research…A researcher cannot perform significant research without first understanding the literature in the field.” ( Boote & Beile, 2005, p. 3 ).  It is by this means, that a researcher demonstrates familiarity with a body of knowledge and thereby establishes credibility with a reader.  An advanced-level literature review shows how prior research is linked to a new project, summarizing and synthesizing what is known while identifying gaps in the knowledge base, facilitating theory development, closing areas where enough research already exists, and uncovering areas where more research is needed. ( Webster & Watson, 2002, p. xiii )

A graduate-level literature review is a compilation of the most significant previously published research on your topic. Unlike an annotated bibliography or a research paper you may have written as an undergraduate, your literature review will outline, evaluate and synthesize relevant research and relate those sources to your own thesis or research question. It is much more than a summary of all the related literature.

It is a type of writing that demonstrate the importance of your research by defining the main ideas and the relationship between them. A good literature review lays the foundation for the importance of your stated problem and research question.

Literature reviews:

  • define a concept
  • map the research terrain or scope
  • systemize relationships between concepts
  • identify gaps in the literature ( Rocco & Plathotnik, 2009, p. 128 )

The purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate that your research question  is meaningful. Additionally, you may review the literature of different disciplines to find deeper meaning and understanding of your topic. It is especially important to consider other disciplines when you do not find much on your topic in one discipline. You will need to search the cognate literature before claiming there is “little previous research” on your topic.

Well developed literature reviews involve numerous steps and activities. The literature review is an iterative process because you will do at least two of them: a preliminary search to learn what has been published in your area and whether there is sufficient support in the literature for moving ahead with your subject. After this first exploration, you will conduct a deeper dive into the literature to learn everything you can about the topic and its related issues.

Literature Review Tutorial

A video titled "Literature Reviews: An overview for graduate students." Video here: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/litreview/. Transcript available here: https://siskel.lib.ncsu.edu/RIS/instruction/litreview/litreview.txt

1.2 Literature Review Basics

An effective literature review must:

  • Methodologically analyze and synthesize quality literature on a topic
  • Provide a firm foundation to a topic or research area
  • Provide a firm foundation for the selection of a research methodology
  • Demonstrate that the proposed research contributes something new to the overall body of knowledge of advances the research field’s knowledge base. ( Levy & Ellis, 2006 ).

All literature reviews, whether they are qualitative, quantitative or both, will at some point:

  • Introduce the topic and define its key terms
  • Establish the importance of the topic
  • Provide an overview of the amount of available literature and its types (for example: theoretical, statistical, speculative)
  • Identify gaps in the literature
  • Point out consistent finding across studies
  • Arrive at a synthesis that organizes what is known about a topic
  • Discusses possible implications and directions for future research

1.3 Types of Literature Reviews

There are many different types of literature reviews, however there are some shared characteristics or features.  Remember a comprehensive literature review is, at its most fundamental level, an original work based on an extensive critical examination and synthesis of the relevant literature on a topic. As a study of the research on a particular topic, it is arranged by key themes or findings, which may lead up to or link to the  research question.  In some cases, the research question will drive the type of literature review that is undertaken.

The following section includes brief descriptions of the terms used to describe different literature review types with examples of each.   The included citations are open access, Creative Commons licensed or copyright-restricted.

1.3.1 Types of Review

1.3.1.1 conceptual.

Guided by an understanding of basic issues rather than a research methodology. You are looking for key factors, concepts or variables and the presumed relationship between them. The goal of the conceptual literature review is to categorize and describe concepts relevant to your study or topic and outline a relationship between them. You will include relevant theory and empirical research.

Examples of a Conceptual Review:

  • Education : The formality of learning science in everyday life: A conceptual literature review. ( Dohn, 2010 ).
  • Education : Are we asking the right questions? A conceptual review of the educational development literature in higher education. ( Amundsen & Wilson, 2012 ).

Figure 1.1 shows a diagram of possible topics and subtopics related to the use of information systems in education. In this example, constructivist theory is a concept that might influence the use of information systems in education. A related but separate concept the researcher might want to explore are the different perspectives of students and teachers regarding the use of information systems in education.

1.3.1.2 Empirical

An empirical literature review collects, creates, arranges, and analyzes numeric data reflecting the frequency of themes, topics, authors and/or methods found in existing literature. Empirical literature reviews present their summaries in quantifiable terms using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Examples of an Empirical Review:

  • Nursing : False-positive findings in Cochrane meta-analyses with and without application of trial sequential analysis: An empirical review. ( Imberger, Thorlund, Gluud, & Wettersley, 2016 ).
  • Education : Impediments of e-learning adoption in higher learning institutions of Tanzania: An empirical review ( Mwakyusa & Mwalyagile, 2016 ).

1.3.1.3 Exploratory

Unlike a synoptic literature review, the purpose here is to provide a broad approach to the topic area. The aim is breadth rather than depth and to get a general feel for the size of the topic area. A graduate student might do an exploratory review of the literature before beginning a synoptic, or more comprehensive one.

Examples of an Exploratory Review:

  • Education : University research management: An exploratory literature review. ( Schuetzenmeister, 2010 ).
  • Education : An exploratory review of design principles in constructivist gaming learning environments. ( Rosario & Widmeyer, 2009 ).

literature review topics in education

1.3.1.4 Focused

A type of literature review limited to a single aspect of previous research, such as methodology. A focused literature review generally will describe the implications of choosing a particular element of past research, such as methodology in terms of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

Examples of a Focused Review:

  • Nursing : Clinical inertia in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A focused literature review. ( Khunti, Davies, & Khunti, 2015 ).
  • Education : Language awareness: Genre awareness-a focused review of the literature. ( Stainton, 1992 ).

1.3.1.5 Integrative

Critiques past research and draws overall conclusions from the body of literature at a specified point in time. Reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way. Most integrative reviews are intended to address mature topics or  emerging topics. May require the author to adopt a guiding theory, a set of competing models, or a point of view about a topic.  For more description of integrative reviews, see Whittemore & Knafl (2005).

Examples of an Integrative Review:

  • Nursing : Interprofessional teamwork and collaboration between community health workers and healthcare teams: An integrative review. ( Franklin,  Bernhardt, Lopez, Long-Middleton, & Davis, 2015 ).
  • Education : Exploring the gap between teacher certification and permanent employment in Ontario: An integrative literature review. ( Brock & Ryan, 2016 ).

1.3.1.6 Meta-analysis

A subset of a  systematic review, that takes findings from several studies on the same subject and analyzes them using standardized statistical procedures to pool together data. Integrates findings from a large body of quantitative findings to enhance understanding, draw conclusions, and detect patterns and relationships. Gather data from many different, independent studies that look at the same research question and assess similar outcome measures. Data is combined and re-analyzed, providing a greater statistical power than any single study alone. It’s important to note that not every systematic review includes a meta-analysis but a meta-analysis can’t exist without a systematic review of the literature.

Examples of a Meta-Analysis:

  • Education : Efficacy of the cooperative learning method on mathematics achievement and attitude: A meta-analysis research. ( Capar & Tarim, 2015 ).
  • Nursing : A meta-analysis of the effects of non-traditional teaching methods on the critical thinking abilities of nursing students. ( Lee, Lee, Gong, Bae, & Choi, 2016 ).
  • Education : Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: A meta-analysis of the literature from 1970 to 1991. ( Weinburgh, 1995 ).

1.3.1.7 Narrative/Traditional

An overview of research on a particular topic that critiques and summarizes a body of literature. Typically broad in focus. Relevant past research is selected and synthesized into a coherent discussion. Methodologies, findings and limits of the existing body of knowledge are discussed in narrative form. Sometimes also referred to as a traditional literature review. Requires a sufficiently focused research question. The process may be subject to bias that supports the researcher’s own work.

Examples of a Narrative/Traditional Review:

  • Nursing : Family carers providing support to a person dying in the home setting: A narrative literature review. ( Morris, King, Turner, & Payne, 2015 ).
  • Education : Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that make a lasting difference. ( Hattie, Marsh, Neill, & Richards, 1997 ).
  • Education : Good quality discussion is necessary but not sufficient in asynchronous tuition: A brief narrative review of the literature. ( Fear & Erikson-Brown, 2014 ).
  • Nursing : Outcomes of physician job satisfaction: A narrative review, implications, and directions for future research. ( Williams & Skinner, 2003 ).

1.3.1.8 Realist

Aspecific type of literature review that is theory-driven and interpretative and is intended to explain the outcomes of a complex intervention program(s).

Examples of a Realist Review:

  • Nursing : Lean thinking in healthcare: A realist review of the literature. ( Mazzacato, Savage, Brommels, 2010 ).
  • Education : Unravelling quality culture in higher education: A realist review. ( Bendermacher, Egbrink, Wolfhagen, & Dolmans, 2017 ).

1.3.1.9 Scoping

Tend to be non-systematic and focus on breadth of coverage conducted on a topic rather than depth. Utilize a wide range of materials; may not evaluate the quality of the studies as much as count the number. One means of understanding existing literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research; preliminary assessment of size and scope of available research on topic. May include research in progress.

Examples of a Scoping Review:

  • Nursing : Organizational interventions improving access to community-based primary health care for vulnerable populations: A scoping review. ( Khanassov, Pluye, Descoteaux, Haggerty,  Russell, Gunn, & Levesque, 2016 ).
  • Education : Interdisciplinary doctoral research supervision: A scoping review. ( Vanstone, Hibbert, Kinsella, McKenzie, Pitman, & Lingard, 2013 ).
  • Nursing : A scoping review of the literature on the abolition of user fees in health care services in Africa. ( Ridde, & Morestin, 2011 ).

1.3.1.10 Synoptic

Unlike an exploratory review, the purpose is to provide a concise but accurate overview of all material that appears to be relevant to a chosen topic. Both content and methodological material is included. The review should aim to be both descriptive and evaluative. Summarizes previous studies while also showing how the body of literature could be extended and improved in terms of content and method by identifying gaps.

Examples of a Synoptic Review:

  • Education : Theoretical framework for educational assessment: A synoptic review. ( Ghaicha, 2016 ).
  • Education : School effects research: A synoptic review of past efforts and some suggestions for the future. ( Cuttance, 1981 ).

1.3.1.11 Systematic Review

A rigorous review that follows a strict methodology designed with a presupposed selection of literature reviewed.  Undertaken to clarify the state of existing research, the evidence, and possible implications that can be drawn from that.  Using comprehensive and exhaustive searching of the published and unpublished literature, searching various databases, reports, and grey literature.  Transparent and reproducible in reporting details of time frame, search and methods to minimize bias.  Must include a team of at least 2-3 and includes the critical appraisal of the literature.  For more description of systematic reviews, including links to protocols, checklists, workflow processes, and structure see “ A Young Researcher’s Guide to a Systematic Review “.

Examples of a Systematic Review:

  • Education : The potentials of using cloud computing in schools: A systematic literature review ( Hartmann, Braae, Pedersen, & Khalid, 2017 )
  • Nursing : Is butter back? A systematic review and meta-analysis of butter consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and total mortality. ( Pimpin, Wu, Haskelberg, Del Gobbo, & Mozaffarian, 2016 ).
  • Education : The use of research to improve professional practice: a systematic review of the literature. ( Hemsley-Brown & Sharp, 2003 ).
  • Nursing : Using computers to self-manage type 2 diabetes. ( Pal, Eastwood, Michie, Farmer, Barnard, Peacock, Wood, Inniss, & Murray, 2013 ).

1.3.1.12 Umbrella/Overview of Reviews

Compiles evidence from multiple systematic reviews into one document. Focuses on broad condition or problem for which there are competing interventions and highlights reviews that address those interventions and their effects. Often used in recommendations for practice.

Examples of an Umbrella/Overview Review:

  • Education : Reflective practice in healthcare education: An umbrella review. ( Fragknos, 2016 ).
  • Nursing : Systematic reviews of psychosocial interventions for autism: an umbrella review. ( Seida, Ospina, Karkhaneh, Hartling, Smith, & Clark, 2009 ).

For a brief discussion see “ Not all literature reviews are the same ” (Thomson, 2013).

1.4 Why do a Literature Review?

The purpose of the literature review is the same regardless of the topic or research method. It tests your own research question against what is already known about the subject.

1.4.1 First – It’s part of the whole. Omission of a literature review chapter or section in a graduate-level project represents a serious void or absence of critical element in the research process.

The outcome of your review is expected to demonstrate that you:

  • can systematically explore the research in your topic area
  • can read and critically analyze the literature in your discipline and then use it appropriately to advance your own work
  • have sufficient knowledge in the topic to undertake further investigation

1.4.2 Second – It’s good for you!

  • You improve your skills as a researcher
  • You become familiar with the discourse of your discipline and learn how to be a scholar in your field
  • You learn through writing your ideas and finding your voice in your subject area
  • You define, redefine and clarify your research question for yourself in the process

1.4.3 Third – It’s good for your reader. Your reader expects you to have done the hard work of gathering, evaluating and synthesizes the literature.  When you do a literature review you:

  • Set the context for the topic and present its significance
  • Identify what’s important to know about your topic – including individual material, prior research, publications, organizations and authors.
  • Demonstrate relationships among prior research
  • Establish limitations of existing knowledge
  • Analyze trends in the topic’s treatment and gaps in the literature

1.4.4 Why do a literature review?

  • To locate gaps in the literature of your discipline
  • To avoid reinventing the wheel
  • To carry on where others have already been
  • To identify other people working in the same field
  • To increase your breadth of knowledge in your subject area
  • To find the seminal works in your field
  • To provide intellectual context for your own work
  • To acknowledge opposing viewpoints
  • To put your work in perspective
  • To demonstrate you can discover and retrieve previous work in the area

1.5 Common Literature Review Errors

Graduate-level literature reviews are more than a summary of the publications you find on a topic.  As you have seen in this brief introduction, literature reviews are a very specific type of research, analysis, and writing.  We will explore these topics more in the next chapters.  Some things to keep in mind as you begin your own research and writing are ways to avoid the most common errors seen in the first attempt at a literature review.  For a quick review of some of the pitfalls and challenges a new researcher faces when he/she begins work, see “ Get Ready: Academic Writing, General Pitfalls and (oh yes) Getting Started! ”.

As you begin your own graduate-level literature review, try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Accepts another researcher’s finding as valid without evaluating methodology and data
  • Contrary findings and alternative interpretations are not considered or mentioned
  • Findings are not clearly related to one’s own study, or findings are too general
  • Insufficient time allowed to define best search strategies and writing
  • Isolated statistical results are simply reported rather than synthesizing the results
  • Problems with selecting and using most relevant keywords, subject headings and descriptors
  • Relies too heavily on secondary sources
  • Search methods are not recorded or reported for transparency
  • Summarizes rather than synthesizes articles

In conclusion, the purpose of a literature review is three-fold:

  • to survey the current state of knowledge or evidence in the area of inquiry,
  • to identify key authors, articles, theories, and findings in that area, and
  • to identify gaps in knowledge in that research area.

A literature review is commonly done today using computerized keyword searches in online databases, often working with a trained librarian or information expert. Keywords can be combined using the Boolean operators, “and”, “or” and sometimes “not”  to narrow down or expand the search results. Once a list of articles is generated from the keyword and subject heading search, the researcher must then manually browse through each title and abstract, to determine the suitability of that article before a full-text article is obtained for the research question.

Literature reviews should be reasonably complete, and not restricted to a few journals, a few years, or a specific methodology or research design. Reviewed articles may be summarized in the form of tables, and can be further structured using organizing frameworks such as a concept matrix.

A well-conducted literature review should indicate whether the initial research questions have already been addressed in the literature, whether there are newer or more interesting research questions available, and whether the original research questions should be modified or changed in light of findings of the literature review.

The review can also provide some intuitions or potential answers to the questions of interest and/or help identify theories that have previously been used to address similar questions and may provide evidence to inform policy or decision-making. ( Bhattacherjee, 2012 ).

literature review topics in education

Read Abstract 1.  Refer to Types of Literature Reviews.  What type of literature review do you think this study is and why?  See the Answer Key for the correct response.

Nursing : To describe evidence of international literature on the safe care of the hospitalised child after the World Alliance for Patient Safety and list contributions of the general theoretical framework of patient safety for paediatric nursing.

An integrative literature review between 2004 and 2015 using the databases PubMed, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Scopus, Web of Science and Wiley Online Library, and the descriptors Safety or Patient safety, Hospitalised child, Paediatric nursing, and Nursing care.

Thirty-two articles were analysed, most of which were from North American, with a descriptive approach. The quality of the recorded information in the medical records, the use of checklists, and the training of health workers contribute to safe care in paediatric nursing and improve the medication process and partnerships with parents.

General information available on patient safety should be incorporated in paediatric nursing care. ( Wegner, Silva, Peres, Bandeira, Frantz, Botene, & Predebon, 2017 ).

Read Abstract 2.  Refer to Types of Literature Reviews.  What type of lit review do you think this study is and why?  See the Answer Key for the correct response.

Education : The focus of this paper centers around timing associated with early childhood education programs and interventions using meta-analytic methods. At any given assessment age, a child’s current age equals starting age, plus duration of program, plus years since program ended. Variability in assessment ages across the studies should enable everyone to identify the separate effects of all three time-related components. The project is a meta-analysis of evaluation studies of early childhood education programs conducted in the United States and its territories between 1960 and 2007. The population of interest is children enrolled in early childhood education programs between the ages of 0 and 5 and their control-group counterparts. Since the data come from a meta-analysis, the population for this study is drawn from many different studies with diverse samples. Given the preliminary nature of their analysis, the authors cannot offer conclusions at this point. ( Duncan, Leak, Li, Magnuson, Schindler, & Yoshikawa, 2011 ).

Test Yourself

See Answer Key for the correct responses.

The purpose of a graduate-level literature review is to summarize in as many words as possible everything that is known about my topic.

A literature review is significant because in the process of doing one, the researcher learns to read and critically assess the literature of a discipline and then uses it appropriately to advance his/her own research.

Read the following abstract and choose the correct type of literature review it represents.

Nursing: E-cigarette use has become increasingly popular, especially among the young. Its long-term influence upon health is unknown. Aim of this review has been to present the current state of knowledge about the impact of e-cigarette use on health, with an emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe. During the preparation of this narrative review, the literature on e-cigarettes available within the network PubMed was retrieved and examined. In the final review, 64 research papers were included. We specifically assessed the construction and operation of the e-cigarette as well as the chemical composition of the e-liquid; the impact that vapor arising from the use of e-cigarette explored in experimental models in vitro; and short-term effects of use of e-cigarettes on users’ health. Among the substances inhaled by the e-smoker, there are several harmful products, such as: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acroleine, propanal, nicotine, acetone, o-methyl-benzaldehyde, carcinogenic nitrosamines. Results from experimental animal studies indicate the negative impact of e-cigarette exposure on test models, such as ascytotoxicity, oxidative stress, inflammation, airway hyper reactivity, airway remodeling, mucin production, apoptosis, and emphysematous changes. The short-term impact of e-cigarettes on human health has been studied mostly in experimental setting. Available evidence shows that the use of e-cigarettes may result in acute lung function responses (e.g., increase in impedance, peripheral airway flow resistance) and induce oxidative stress. Based on the current available evidence, e-cigarette use is associated with harmful biologic responses, although it may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. (J ankowski, Brożek, Lawson, Skoczyński, & Zejda, 2017 ).

  • Meta-analysis
  • Exploratory

Education: In this review, Mary Vorsino writes that she is interested in keeping the potential influences of women pragmatists of Dewey’s day in mind while presenting modern feminist re readings of Dewey. She wishes to construct a narrowly-focused and succinct literature review of thinkers who have donned a feminist lens to analyze Dewey’s approaches to education, learning, and democracy and to employ Dewey’s works in theorizing on gender and education and on gender in society. This article first explores Dewey as both an ally and a problematic figure in feminist literature and then investigates the broader sphere of feminist pragmatism and two central themes within it: (1) valuing diversity, and diverse experiences; and (2) problematizing fixed truths. ( Vorsino, 2015 ).

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  • Research Guides
  • CECH Library

Education Basics

Literature review overview.

  • Article and Media Sources
  • Quick Stats and Reference
  • OAE and Praxis Core
  • Citation & Annotation

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).

Step 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?

Step 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.

Step 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:

  • Review of Educational Research The Review of Educational Research (RER) publishes critical, integrative reviews of research literature bearing on education, including conceptualizations, interpretations, and syntheses of literature and scholarly work in a field broadly relevant to education and educational research.
  • Educational Psychology Review Educational Psychology Review is an international forum for the publication of peer-reviewed integrative review articles, special thematic issues, reflections or comments on previous research or new research directions, interviews, and research-based advice for practitioners.
  • Doing educational research : a guide to first-time researchers CECH Prof Ed LB1028 .D65 2004
  • Effective action research: developing reflective thinking and practice Electronic (2011)
  • Encyclopedia of Education Electronic and Langsam Library Reference, LB 15 .E47 2003
  • Encyclopedia of Special Education [electronic resource] : a Reference for the Education of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Disabilities and other Exceptional Individuals Electronic, 2007.
  • Handbook of research on educational communications and technology CECH Library Reference, LB 1028.3 . H355 2008
  • Handbook of research on multicultural education CECH Library Reference, LC 1099.3 .H35 2004
  • Handbook of research on teaching CECH Library Reference, LB1028 .S39 2001
  • How to design and evaluate research in education CECH Reserves LB1028 .F665 2012
  • Methods in educational research: from theory to practice Electronic (2010)
  • The Phi Delta Kappan [electronic resource] Electronic, Contains many articles that cite research and analyze practical implications.
  • The Routledge International Encyclopedia of Education CECH Library Reference, LB 15 .R633 2008

Step 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 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. See below for key databases in education:

Access: Free

Step 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:

Step 6: Read and Evaluate Primary Sources Discovered Through Indexes

For assistance in obtaining copies of primary sources, please consult your liaison librarian .

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.

Step 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.

Step 8: Prepare Your Literature Review Report

See the following resources for advice on preparing a literature review report:

literature review topics in education

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COMMENTS

  1. 170+ Research Topics In Education (+ Free Webinar)

    170+ Research Ideas To Fast-Track Your Project If you’re just starting out exploring education-related topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place.

  2. Literature Reviews

    The literature review: A step-by-step guide for students. 2d ed. Sage Study Skills. London: SAGE. In the introductory chapter, Ridley reviews many definitions of the literature review, literature reviews at the master’s and doctoral level, and placement of literature reviews within the thesis or dissertation document.

  3. One-of-a-Kind Literature Review Education Topics to Your Benefit

    The following are literature review education topics for you to consider: Early childhood education: learning through play. Growing classes: do learning outcomes suffer from it? What should a proper sex education program look like?

  4. Chapter 1: Introduction

    Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students Chapter 1: Introduction Learning Objectives At the conclusion of this chapter, you will be able to: Identify the purpose of the literature review in the research process Distinguish between different types of literature reviews 1.1 What is a Literature Review?

  5. Research Guides: Education Basics: Literature Review 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).