Unit 3 | Theoretical Framework(s) and Literature Review


In this unit, having formulated your research question(s), you will gather more detailed information regarding your topic, decide on the aims and objectives of your project, and begin to think about the data that needs to be collected in order to answer your question(s). You will continue reading to ensure that you are on the right track, as well as to determine how your proposed research fits in with research already carried out in your area of interest.

You will draft a literature review for your proposal. Your literature review should begin with a sub-section regarding the theoretical framework(s) that you are approaching your research from, provide some explanation as to what that framework is, why it is an appropriate choice, and how you will apply it to your research.

A theoretical framework can be thought of as the background assumptions and/or approach to your research that you know to be true based on research already undertaken. Your research is not about trying to approve or disprove the theoretical framework, rather you approach your research from the understanding of what is known. Some of the theoretical frameworks you might consider include: social constructivism; engagement theory; technology acceptance model; community of inquiry; theory of self-efficacy; systems theory; and activity theory. In addition to the required readings for this unit, there is a list that includes readings for many of the most common theoretical frameworks that are used related to education, learning and technology. As you explore theoretical frameworks in this unit the readings are suggested to help you understand the theoretical framework and to provide guidance.

Your literature review should then provide the reader with an overview of the state of knowledge in your particular area of investigation and of major questions in that area. Reports on studies directly related to the proposed research will need to be discussed in more detail. You need to critically evaluate these studies, rather than just present factual information about them. The review of relevant background literature, therefore, needs to describe the previous research, and the results of that research, in such a way as to indicate where your proposal is situated. A literature review is a synthesis of what has been done in this area and what conclusions we can draw. The literature review for the project proposal is meant to give us a bigger picture view of your topic, what some of the key findings have been and by whom, what they tell us about this topic generally, and where the gaps are. You’ll be looking to synthesize the information.

Learning Activities and Assignments

  • Activity 1: Theoretical Frameworks
  • Select an appropriate theoretical framework for your research
  • Develop a literature review for your research proposal
  • Engage in interactive discussions on course and student blog sites
  • Participate in a peer review exercise of your colleagues’ work – Peer Evaluation
  • Complete and submit Assignment 2

Activity 1: Theoretical Frameworks

Please identify, through your blog, at least one theoretical framework that you are interested in learning more about. Please indicate what you understand about the theoretical framework, and any questions you might have. You should post by the end of the first week of the unit. Please review your colleagues’ posts and comment on at least two by the Wednesday of the second week of the unit.

Peer Evaluation

Please see the details in the Peer Review Activity and Peer Evaluation page of the course.


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