Skip to Main Content

EDUC 6733 Module 2 Assignment 2: Module 2 Assignment 2

Your literature review

For Part B of your Week 2 Application, you will find articles and create a literature review of 3-5 sources. This guide covers:

Generate keywords

Construct and refine your search

Identify original research studies

Primary and secondary sources

Generate keywords

Capture the main ideas of your wondering topic with terms that you would expect to see in an article's title or abstract. Brainstorm keywords in advance, for example:

Topic: How does limited access to technology affect the success of low-income students?

technology student success low income
computers student achievement poverty
internet academic achievement poor
digital divide


Focus on the main concepts, avoiding words that are vague or implied. For example, "affect" could be phrased many ways: impact, impede, hinder, inhibit, etc. A correlation between the concepts is implied. Rather than trying to guess every possible word an author might use, leave it out. 

The term low income might look incomplete, but it captures low-income student, low-income family, low-income household, etc. Likewise, you might instead use simply success or achievement.

Learn more about keyword searching.

Build a search for your topic

The next step is to use your keywords to build a search within a library database. While each database has a unique collection, and may look slightly different, these general steps will work in every library database.

Below is an example search using the keywords provided in the box above.

1.  From the library website, look for Subject resources and click on the Select a subject drop-down:

2.  Click the Education link in the Select a Subject box.  Now you will see the Education Research guide. This guide has links to the databases used most often for Education research.

3.  Select a database. This search example uses ERIC, one of our Education subject databases. Scroll down to the Education Databases box.  Click the ERIC link.  You may need to log in with your myWalden user name and password.

NOTE: There are many databases you can use for this assignment. You may want to try more than one database, since each database has a different collection of articles.

See the bottom of this box for a list of relevant databases, and more information about each one.


4.  Type your keywords into the search boxes. Place keywords for a single concept into one box, using "or" between each one. This tells the database to find articles that have any of those terms.

     For example, first search box:  

      digital divide or technology or internet

     Second search box:  

academic achievement or student achievement or student success

     Third search box:

poverty or poor or low income


Learn more about "or" and other Boolean operators.

5.  Add limits to your search. The limits you choose will depend on what you need to find. Check the Scholarly Peer-Reviewed box, if the database you are using includes the option. You can also add a date limit.

Learn more about database limiters

Learn more about peer review


Click to see a larger image of this search page.

6.  Click the Search button. See if the articles are relevant by reading titles and abstracts.

7.  Refine your search if you need to improve your results.

One way to refine a search is to explore the Subjects (available in ERIC and Education Source) for alternative keywords. Subjects are the official, preferred terms for concepts within a database. If you search using these terms, you will find more precise results. They can also give you ideas for aspects you haven't considered.

Article information with these subject terms highlighted: access to computers, disadvantaged, socioeconomic status, and achievement gap.

Add these terms to your search or use them instead of your original keywords.

Learn more about using subject terms.

Education Databases

Identify original research studies (primary sources)

After a search, read article titles and abstracts to see if they address your topic and look for indications that the author(s) conducted original research. (Click an article title to see its abstract.)

Some abstracts clearly identify the major components of an original research study:

Article abstract with section headings highlighted: Purpose, Design/methodology/approach, Findings, and Originality/Value


Other abstracts are less structured but still readily indicate whether it's a research study:

Abstract with the following highlighted: quantitative and qualitative data were collected, analyzed, and compared; results of the study revealed; quantitative data did not reveal; qualitative data indicated; results of the study have implications.