Problem Formulation

Let me put down what I’m trying to do based on the steps in doing literature review as mentioned earlier. There are five steps similar to doing primary research and here is the first step that I’m attempting to apply: Problem formulation.

In problem formulation, I need to figure out what’s the research questions that prompt me to do this literature review. So I’m digging back my Chapter 1 and here are my aim and objectives to start with:

Aim of research

I wish to investigate, design and develop (no choice but to develop a prototype/system as it’s part of the requirement in Computer Science) an integrated learning platform that support Personal learning environment (PLE) in higher education.

Objectives of research

I’m to further breakdown my aim into achievable objectives:

1. Understand the underlying learning principles/theories that influence the current learning environment and the emergence of new learning environment

2. Identify the factors/requirements for designing an effective learning environment in higher education that promotes learners’ autonomy/self-regulation and social participation

3. Propose a design of an integrated learning environment that supports PLE

4. Develop and evaluate prototype

Research questions

I learnt that research questions are generated from research objectives (i.e. breaking down the objectives further into a few questions that I want to get answers). I have quite a bit of research questions based on the objectives above but here are some general ones that I want to get answers from the literature review:

1. What are the associations of different learning theories to different learning environments?

2. What is PLE (definition, if any)? Why PLE (what motivates this new learning environment)?

3. What are the challenges in implementing PLE in higher education?

4. Can PLE be integrated with formal learning (i.e. LMS) in higher education? Comparison of LMS and PLE?

5. What processes and skills are essential to support PLE?

According to Cooper’s Taxonomy of Literature Review (as quoted by Justus), I have to first identify the following six aspects for my literature review: focus, goal, perspective, coverage, organization and audience.

a) Focus: my literature review will be focusing on pedagogy theories and learning practices/application

b) Goal: my goal for review is to integrate/generalize the topic and identify central issues about PLE and teaching/learning in higher education

c) Perspective: I’m following the qualitative research methods which requires expousal of position (i.e. what’s my standing/hypotheses in this research) – at this moment, I strongly believe that the teaching/learning in higher education is in need for changes in trend with new development of Web 2.0 technology.

d) Coverage: I don’t think I can cover all related articles in exhautive review, so I’m opting for central/pivotal review (i.e. finding all the prominent articles in this topic and to convince you that I have done proper review 😛 )

e) Organization: I have planned to organize my review in conceptual format by explaining the different learning environments, the concept of PLE and why the trend.

f) Audience: as this is a dissertation, obviously my primary audience are my supervisor and examiners. However, I also hope this research is useful to similar field/interested scholars and practitioners/policymakers.

Next, I have also outlined the criteria for inclusion of articles. I have first searched the databases with keyword ‘personal learning environment’ and I believe I have found the prominent authors/researchers in this topic. From there, any articles I found will be included if they talk about PLE, self-regulation/personalization in higher education, Web 2.0 in higher education and e-learning. My major resources are journal articles, conference proceedings and webpages (quantity in descending order).

Finally, I’m glad I have devised a rather good plan in this first step. I have already started the second step (data collection) and I will blog about it soon.


5 thoughts on “Problem Formulation

Add yours

  1. Nice one!

    Really like how you breakdown it for easier understanding instead of lengthy explanation.

    Now I got clearer picture of how to prepare LR …..^_^

    I saw you keep mentioning Pomodoros, what is that?

    For the Enhancement program, I selected the choice when I was registering for it. I guess I missed out that Technical Writing.

    1. Thanks Fariha. Glad if this helps you. Sorry that I haven’t explained Pomodoro, it’s a technique I learn from Ben @ and it really works wonder with my productivity.

      Do check out his blog for more information. I will try to blog about Pomodoro soon too.

      For the enhancement program, I think you still can go. During the registration, they only ask what we want to attend, don’t think it’s already confirmed which to attend. I already email to Ilyana to ask for more info but still no reply. Sigh! Just wait and see.

  2. Thanks for the link back to my blog! I agree with Fariha that this is very well laid out. One thing that you mentioned that I particularly like is when you mention audience. I always consider at least two audiences when writing a review. One is the intended reader – in a dissertation or a thesis, this is normally one or two supervisors and it is very, very important to please them, and do what they want to get the best results. However, I also consider a general audience, in which I include myself to write for – to make sure that I write an interesting review and that my research will properly increase my general understanding of the subject area.

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