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EDU8011 : EdD Core Module 2 Practices of Enquiry: introduction to critical reading, comparative and synthesis methods in literature review

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Pamela Woolner
  • Lecturer: Dr Alison Whelan
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module gives students the opportunity to focus on the core Doctoral skill of critical reading, writing and literature synthesis. It encourages students to make explicit their decision-making processes when selecting, reading and critiquing theoretical, policy and empirical publications. In writing about others’ work, they will be able to take an appropriate tone of rigour, curiosity and collegiality. The collaborative nature of the module is intended to widen each student’s perspectives and repertoire as well as to develop the capacity to appreciate and defend their own position. There will be staff facilitation of the reading groups but a key outcome of this module is the development of students’ confidence and autonomy.

Outline Of Syllabus

Whole group session 1:
Taught elements on a) reading critically: making informed choices, managing searches and references, ascribing warrant and weight to papers. b) Introducing the structure of the portfolio
Organising reading groups around core interests.

Reading group session 1: Each group selects a key paper in their area of interest for review, collaboratively searching and using inclusion and exclusion criteria to identify a paper that meets the group’s agreed standards. The review tasks are identified and distributed amongst the group, each group deciding what degree of moderation is optimal. This process is meticulously recorded for the portfolios.

Reading group session 2: Students bring the fruits of their review task and work together to produce a presentation for the whole group session, demonstrating both their selection process and their judgement about the rigour, originality and significance (ROS) of the chosen paper, as well as the key enquiry question that the review has raised.

Whole group session 2: Presentations from the reading groups, formative feedback and opportunities to re-organise groupings. Taught elements on synthesis in literature review, bringing together perspectives in dialogic and dialectical frameworks.

Reading group session 3: Each member of the group selects a paper around a common focus. The selection process is again collaborative, iterative and recorded. The range of papers chosen will reflect the group decision on how to address the enquiry question that emerged from the review of the first paper, so there may be methodological or theoretical homogeneity or diversity and the rationale for this will be included in the portfolios.

Reading group session 4: The various reviews are brought together and shared, including content, methodology, theoretical orientation and warrant (ROS). Key points of difference and commonality are mapped and a review synthesis prepared to be presented at the third whole group session.

Whole group session 3: Presentations from the reading groups, formative feedback.
Workshop discussion of the variations in voice when reviewing others’ work, focusing on key papers.

Formative assessment will be available from the academic facilitators in every session, peer assessment and feedback will for part of the second and third whole group sessions.
Summative assessment will be in two parts.
A: a portfolio of the searches, papers, reviews and presentations gathered over the year. Collaborative work will be acknowledged. (maximum 2,000 words)
B: A reflective assignment focusing on key points of learning related to
•       critical engagement with the field;
•       with specific papers and
•       developing an appropriate voice for writing a literature review. (1,500 words)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00Linked to group activity
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching42:008:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities42:3010:00Searching and reviewing activities
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity42:008:00Additional peer time
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study113:0013:00Linked to personal reflections for part B of assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time21:002:00Session 1
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The focus of the module is on balancing the transmission of expertise in searching, reading and writing critically with group and independent learning. The whole group LTAs are split between lecture style teaching and presentations from the students, whereas the small groups with staff are supported by student led groups, directed reading and independent study. A key outcome is personal and critical autonomy for the students, so the framework for both teaching and assessment reflects this.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M502,000 words, credit given for collaborative working.
Reflective log2M501,500 words, individual work.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MIndividual and group elements, formative assessment by course leader, group leader and peers.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment regimen is intended to foster increased criticality and confidence through the group process and feedback on the presentations, therefore the portfolio format can reflect developing ideas and experience. The personal reflections will have a more individual and summative quality, encouraging students to identify the key points of learning and to feed-forward into their next modules.

Reading Lists