Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach by Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie and Rebecca Frels

7 Steps to a Literature Review coverby Impact of Social Sciences: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/09/25/book-review-seven-steps-to-a-comprehensive-literature-review-a-multimodal-and-cultural-approach-by-anthony-j-onwuegbuzie-and-rebecca-frels/

In Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach, Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie and Rebecca Frels offer a new guide on how to produce a comprehensive literature review through seven key steps that incorporate rigour, validity and reliability.

Ana Raquel Nunes recommends this helpful, well-informed and well-organised book to those undertaking literature reviews as well as those reflecting on research methodologies more broadly.
This review originally appeared on LSE Review of Books.

Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review: A Multimodal and Cultural Approach, by Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie and Rebecca Frels, offers a straightforward guide on how to conduct literature reviews, and is the successor to Onwuegbuzie’s numerous previous works on qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research. 

The book is a source of in-depth understanding of the role that literature reviews play within the research process and its practices, and is a substantive contribution to social, behavioural and health sciences research. It aims at incorporating rigour, validity and reliability when conducting literature reviews and presents seven steps on how to achieve this.

According to the authors, literature reviews should be systematic, defined ‘as a set of rigorous routines, documentation of such routines, and the way the literature reviewer negotiates particular biases throughout these routines’ (10). The authors acknowledge that this definition differs from the definitions of systematic literature reviews used in the health sciences. 

Instead, this book defines a comprehensive literature review (CLR) as an integrative review, being the combination of narrative review (i.e. theoretical, historical, general and methodological reviews) and systematic review (i.e. meta-analysis, meta-summary, rapid review and meta-synthesis). 

Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review purposefully addresses CLR as ‘a methodological, culturally progressive approach involving the practice of documenting the process of inquiry into the current state of knowledge about a selected topic’ (18). Additionally, the authors’ approach to the CLR takes into account the researcher’s philosophical stance, research methods and practices which, when combined, create a framework for collecting, analysing and evaluating the information that will form the basis for conducting a literature review. 

The book thus presents five types of information - MODES: namely, Media; Observation(s); Documents; Experts(s); and Secondary Sources - that help the researcher in their journey through the literature review landscape, which in the end will produce either a separate output or inform primary research within a bigger research project. 

Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review is an effective tool for an iterative process denoting a structured and chronological approach to conducting literature reviews. The book covers a range of research topics and practical examples arising from the authors’ own research including education, counselling and health systems research. Through these, the authors report an in-depth model characterised by a series of qualitative, quantitative and mixed research approaches, methods and techniques used to collect, analyse and evaluate data/information for the creation of new knowledge.

As its title suggests, the book is organised around seven sequential steps within three phases: the Exploration Phase includes Steps 1-5 (Exploring Beliefs and Topics; Initiating the Search; Storing and Organising Information; Selecting/Deselecting Information; and Expanding the Search (MODES)); the Interpretation Phase includes Step 6 (Analysing and Synthesising Information); and the Communication Phase includes Step 7 (Presenting the CLR Report). 

As the argument of the book develops, the differences between traditional literature reviews and the CLR become evident as the seven steps are unveiled. Traditional literature reviews are encapsulated within Steps 1-4, whilst a CLR goes further through the addition of Steps 5-7.

One of the steps that was of particular interest to me was Step 6 on analysing and synthesising information. The book advances research methodology knowledge and practice on the different elements of empirical data and how both qualitative and quantitative information can be analysed and synthesised to inform a CLR.

In Step 6, the authors go to great lengths to explain and exemplify how users can perform qualitative and quantitative data analyses of information, as well as the level of integration that can be achieved when doing mixed methods analyses. 

Additionally, the authors explore the nature of data analysis and identify three levels or layers that need to be taken into consideration: namely, the research approach (e.g. grounded theory); the research method (e.g. measures if regression); and the research technique (e.g. content analysis) used. This is found to be essential as data analysis is considered to be a product of the research method used, which in turn is linked to the research approach. 

Seven Steps to a Comprehensive Literature Review is not merely intended for those conducting a literature review, but it also works as a research methodology book as it addresses an extensive number of research methodologies, methods and techniques. The book offers a theoretically and practically informed discussion of increased integration of research processes, practices and products, raising important quality standards assurances necessary for a CLR, but also for research more generally. 

This is a very well-organised book which cleverly and effectively uses tables, figures and boxes throughout to illustrate and help contextualise detailed examples of the different steps involved in conducting a literature review.

Accordingly, readers seeking a tool or a guide on conducting literature reviews will find this a very helpful book. It will also be of use to a broader readership interested in research methodology more generally as it encompasses the different research traditions (qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods) as well as the stages of the research process (the research problem, the literature review, research design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation and report writing). 

For the reasons above, it will appeal widely to students, academics and practitioners interested in conducting literature reviews within the social, behavioural and health sciences. It is suitable for different levels of experience in conducting literature reviews and doing research in general. Furthermore, this is a book that should be at-hand and used as a guide each time one decides to conduct a piece of research that includes a literature review as it will provide new ideas and directions depending on the topic and disciplinary perspective.

Dr Ana Raquel Nunes is a Research Fellow in the Division of Health Sciences at the Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, and a Research Methodologist and Adviser for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Design Service (RDS). She is an interdisciplinary and mixed methods researcher working at the interface between public health, environmental science and social science. Her active interests include human vulnerability, resilience and adaptation to stresses and threats (e.g. climate change), housing and health, and fuel poverty. You can find more about her research here. 

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

The Flipped Classroom Unplugged: Three Tech-Free Strategies for Engaging Students

active learningby , Faculty Focus: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/blended-flipped-learning/flipped-classroom-unplugged-three-tech-free-strategies-engaging-students/

Throughout this summer article series, we’ve addressed some of the most frequently asked questions about the flipped classroom in higher education.

We’ve shared ideas for student motivation, student engagement, time management, student resistance, and large classes. Since this is the final article in the series, I reviewed my notes and the findings from the Faculty Focus reader survey on flipped classroom trends (2015), and there’s one more topic we need to address:  creativity. 

“I don’t know if I’m creative enough to flip my class. How do you keep coming up with new teaching strategies and tools to engage students during class time?”

In almost every workshop I teach, at least one participant asks me this question. And, the findings from the Faculty Focus reader survey highlight the scope of this concern among educators. Almost 79% of the survey respondents indicated that “being creative and developing new strategies and ideas” was sometimes, often, or always a challenge when implementing the flipped classroom model.

By design, the flipped classroom model challenges you to plan activities and learning experiences where students focus on applying, analyzing, and evaluating course content during class time. It does take a certain amount of creativity to flip your classroom, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can flip your class using simple strategies that allow for students to interact with the material and engage with each other.

For example, lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of flipping moments in our classes without using technology. What would happen if we got back to the basics with some of our activities and used everyday tools to engage students in higher levels of thinking? Would this help some of us overcome some of these feelings of intimidation and inspire us to be more creative? To start the conversation and get the creative ideas flowing, here are three “unplugged” flipped strategies you can add to your class to engage students. 

Flipped Strategy: Adaptation of Muddiest Point
Tool: Index Cards

“Muddiest Point” is a classroom assessment technique that allows students the opportunity to tell you what they are still confused or unclear about from the lesson (Angelo and Cross, 1993). Ask students to write their “muddiest point” on an index card. You may want to specifically focus their attention on the material from today’s lecture, yesterday’s lab, last night’s homework, or any other learning experience you want them to examine.

After your students complete the task, divide them into groups and tell them to analyze the cards based on some set of criteria. Ask them to look for patterns, common themes, categories, or outliers. Note how this adaptation of the Muddiest Point activity challenges students to move beyond just explaining what they don’t understand and into the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They are now summarizing, sorting, analyzing, and evaluating the cards while looking for connections and themes.

Bonus idea: After students sort the cards, challenge them to find the answers together. If you want to keep things “unplugged,” tell them they can only use their textbook, hand-written notes, or other printed materials. 

Flipped Strategy: Mind Mapping
Tools: Sticky Notes, Whiteboard, Markers

Give each pair or group of students a stack of sticky notes and ask them to go to the whiteboard or chalkboard. Assign a topic related to the course material and challenge students to create a mind map of the topic using only their sticky notes. Explain that they can only put one idea on each sticky note, but they can use as many sticky notes as they need. Encourage them to use markers or chalk to draw lines and make connections between the ideas/concepts so you can see how their mind map is organized. By using sticky notes, it’ll be easier for the students to change their maps based on new ways of thinking.

Bonus idea: If you assign all groups the same topic, then you can ask them to rotate around the room and compare and contrast the different mind maps. You could give each group a different colored sticky note so they can add to another group’s mind map, almost like a gallery walk but with sticky notes. 

Flipped Strategy: Brainstorming Challenge
Tools: Pair of Dice, Worksheet

Give students a case study, question, or problem that benefits from brainstorming. Then, divide students into groups and give each group a pair of six-sided dice. Tell students to roll the dice, and whatever number they roll represents the number of answers they need to generate.

For example, if they roll a four and a five, they need to brainstorm nine possible solutions. If they roll a pair of sixes, they need to brainstorm 12 possible solutions. Give them a worksheet to record their ideas. Once groups have completed their challenge, ask them to switch their worksheets with another group and review their lists. This could be the beginning of a class discussion, or you could go another round and see how many more ideas students can add to another group’s list.

Bonus idea: At the end of this activity, ask students to review all of the ideas, select the top two best solutions, and justify their decision.

Hopefully these unplugged flipped strategies will inspire you to be creative in your own way. Your flipped classroom may not look like your colleague’s flipped classroom, and that’s okay. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There isn’t one “right” way to flip your class. The most important takeaway is to use the tools and strategies that make the flipped model work for you and your students.

Thank you for following the series this summer. I hope I have addressed many of your questions about the flipped model, and I look forward to hearing from you! 

Now it’s your turn! What “unplugged” flipped strategies have you used in your classes to enhance student engagement? 


Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. 2nd edition. Jossey-Bass.

Honeycutt, B. (July 7, 2016). Three ways you can use index cards to FLIP your class: Another “unplugged” flipped strategy. Published on LinkedIn. Available online: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-ways-you-can-use-index-cards-flip-your-class-barbi-honeycutt-ph-d-?trk=mp-author-card 

Barbi Honeycutt is the owner of FLIP It Consulting in Raleigh, N.C. and an adjunct assistant professor at NC State University. Her new book 101 Unplugged Flipped Strategies to Engage Your Students. Connect on Twitter @BarbiHoneycutt and on her blog.