When I first attempted to write on this Chapter 2, which is the literature review (LR) chapter, I was feeling a bit lost as if I was floating in the ocean. The articles I found were piling up and I didn’t know what I should really do about them other than to allocate time to read them. But that was not enough still. Just reading them, of course gave me great insight and new idea but I was still struggling to put them into proper writing. I failed miserably. Nothing was written for months even though I kept on reading those articles I found. I had serious problem in putting everything together to make a story.
When I was in a workshop, I heard this term of literature review matrix or some called it a synthesis matrix. According to the speaker, all PhD candidates (okay, I’m not! Thank God!) must produce a matrix to show their literature review work and every supervisors should demand to see it too. I was intrigued and went to search more about it.
LR is the most important part of the research (as if you still don’t know) and it can really help you moving forward or it can also act as a boulder that doesn’t let you pass. Sometimes I still feel this LR is the biggest barrier in my research life. Hehe! Why is it so hard? To me, it’s because I didn’t know the proper way to do it. I have learnt that LR is not supposed to just summarize each individual article I found. Yes, summarizing is a must skill in LR but it must be done in the right way. In LR, it requires analyzing skill while doing the summary before you attempt to do the synthesis and finally write the review.
I found some guides in creating a LR matrix and I went ahead to read the articles I found, particularly in the topic of Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Before that, I have already identified what I want to look for while reading the article. Specifically, I’m looking at the article for any mentioning of the definition of PLE, the pedagogy or principle behind PLE, the rationale for PLE, the skills required and the challenge in implementation. These subtopics or themes are the ones that I want to talk about in my Chapter 2 later. When my matrix started to fill up, it quite amazed me. I’m rather glad that I start to see some patterns in those articles I read, particularly the definition. There are many, of course but mostly mentioned about learner control or autonomy and self-regulation in learning. Whenever I’m reading an article, these are what I’m looking at and sometimes some articles would mention some cool argument or idea. If I cannot fit them in any boxes, I would put them in Other category, hoping I can reference to it later if it fits. I also started to see gap in the matrix when the articles didn’t mention any of those that I’m looking for.
Here is my on-going effort on the matrix on PLE. I have started another matrix on Pedagogy, trying to analyze the different pedagogical approaches and technology used in higher education today.
This matrix is in MS Word and the references are generated by Mendeley add-in. I also saw some doing this matrix in MS Excel.
Sadly, I still haven’t started writing my review, though I have a clear outline and idea in Chapter 2. I promise I will start writing soon enough. *Cross my heart*