Organization of a literature review section

To date, I have almost finished writing a literature review part of my thesis proposal, but, of course, it may need revising and editing. After reading a number of materials, in my thesis work, I have made a lot of changes with respect to which direction I should go in, and what I need to concentrate while writing the literature review. In my previous blog post, I wrote that teacher-centred learning, which makes students be oppressed, was/is practised in education systems of post-Soviet countries. However, having read various articles on teaching, I came to a conclusion that this style of teaching dominates in other countries as well, such as Turkey, Indonesia, and Qatar. Therefore, it can be wrong to state that such a way of teaching and learning exists only in post-Soviet contexts. Instead, I wrote that ‘teacher-centered learning’ continues to be used in many parts of the world.

Now, I would like to demonstrate how I organized my major themes in the literature review part, and some influential phrases or texts used to cite. My major theme relates to the training pre-service teachers receive in pedagogical universities. In order to smoothly go to that specific topic, I decided to begin my literature review with providing some general data on teaching quality as ‘one of the important school variables influencing student achievement’ (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as cited in Silova, 2009). That is, I write about the necessity of using appropriate teaching methods/pedagogies which develop learners’ skills/talents, empower them for social change, and create an inclusive environment in classrooms/schools in order for every learner to feel accepted.

In the following paragraphs, I gradually turn to discussing on teaching methods utilized to train pre-service teachers in pedagogical universities in both western and post-soviet contexts. For that purpose, for example, I cite the studies of Iveta Silova (2009, 2010) who clearly illustrates the current state of teacher preparation processes in post-Soviet countries. Afterwards, I proceed with discussing specifically three theories of teaching and learning such as behaviourism, constructivist and critical pedagogical approach. To do this, I use research works of Kasey R. Larson (critical pedagogy), Kablan and Kaya (constructivist teaching) amongst others. I believe that these materials will assist me to better understand and analyze what teaching methods teachers at pedagogical universities of the country employ to teach pre-service teachers, and what pedagogies they teach pre-service teachers.

One of the challenges in my research project is a shortage of relevant and reliable data on teacher training in pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan. The country needs to pay much more attention to developing research studies as these may contribute to the improvement of an education system. I hope my research study will be a useful resource for other researchers.

P.S. Dear colleagues, if you have any suggestions/recommendations regarding the organization of my literature review, please, let me know.  Your opinion is important to me, as I am still working on it.



Silova, I. (2009). The crisis of the post-soviet teaching profession in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Research in Comparative and International Education, 4, 4.

Silova, I., Moyer, A., Webster, C. & McAllister, S. (2010). Re-conceptualizing professional development of teacher educators in post-Soviet Latvia. Professional development in education, 36:1-2, 357-371, doi: 10.1080/19412550903457596

Kablan, Z. & Kaya, S. (2014). Preservice teachers’ constructivist teaching scores based on their learning styles. Australian Journal of teachers education, 39, 12.

5 thoughts on “Organization of a literature review section

  1. Dear Aisha,
    It is good to know that you will research teacher training programs because there is no doubt that they play a crucial role in the process of implementation and development of inclusive education in Kazakhstan. I think that for the context of Kazakhstan it is especially important to study the pedagogies that are being employed to address the individual needs of pre-service teachers. As it commonly happens, when discussing the issues of inclusive education, the focus is mostly put on secondary education. But, university is a place where people come with very diverse backgrounds and there is no way to transfer the knowledge in a straightforward manner because each individual student will accept that knowledge through the lens of their life experiences and paradigms. It is important for teachers to develop and use strategies to meet the personal and professional needs of each pre-service teacher. As you mentioned, these considerate inclusive attitudes will undoubtedly empower teachers and build their professional identities.
    The way you organized the main themes in the literature review section seems relevant to the topic of your research. The flashbacks that you had in your work and revisions that you made in your paper is a part of an amazing and never linear research process. The more you read the more ideas you have and you start to see the bigger and clearer picture. So, going forth and back in your literature review section is part of the process.
    Overall, I think that you are on the right track and surely you research will make a contribution to the development of inclusive approaches and strategies at pedagogical universities. I wish you the best success with writing your literature review section and passion to drive you forward!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Aisha,
    We do need to see the reality that is happening in our education system. So, your research will certainly have its own contribution to its development!
    Regarding your current post, there are several things I want to ask and say. First of all, am I right that you are investigating teacher training of pre-service teachers in Kazakhstan? You mention it as a major theme, but is it the topic of your thesis itself? I think it’s always better to remind your readers about your topic as there are so many people and posts, sometimes it’s hard to remember them all. Well, if I am right, are you going to mention pre-service teacher training practice that is present abroad?
    The next thing I guess I haven’t found an answer to is specific reasons you have chosen to use the researches you have mentioned.I understand that they are on the topics that you need, but why exactly them? Why you choose them over others?
    Concerning the flow and language of your post it’s clear, structured and easy to follow. I am only concerned about your one sentence, even phrase: “… I gradually turn to discussing ON teaching methods…” Do we say “discuss doing something”, or “discuss on doing something”?=)
    To conclude, I really appreciate the field you have chosen to investigate. And would really like to know the results!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kymbat, thanks for your comments! I will try to answer all your questions.
      1. Yes, I am investigating the training that pre-service teachers receive at pedagogical universities in Kazakhstan.
      2. You suggest to always remind about the topic, but I think there is no necessity to do that. Why? Because, firstly, this depends on the content and structure of the text. I mean that the way we choose to convey information to the audience determines if we need to add the topic or not. That’s why, some colleagues recalled the topic, while others did not do this.
      Secondly, I think that we were asked to mention the major themes in our works because by doing this, we help the readers to understand/remind what the research study is about.
      3. Yes, you are right, I am investigating the studies involving the training of pre-service teachers from a western perspective and post-soviet contexts. (I wrote about it in my previous post) I include them to better comprehend what pedagogies exist and are used when training pre-service teachers. This, in turn, will assist me to know what teaching strategies are utilized to train pre-service teachers in Kazakhstan.
      Could you explain, please, why you asked this question?
      4. The works I mentioned directly relate to my topic. These works give me a quite clear explanation of different theories of teaching. I find these sources reliable and relevant. Those are the materials that I had at that time. But now I have more resources because I search and read new materials every day.
      5. And yes, I sometimes have confusion about if I should use a preposition with a verb or not. Thanks, Kymbat and Philip, for your help with that.


  3. Thanks, Aisha (5/5->late-> 4.5/5).

    Your peers have already provided you some valuable comments, but I’ll still add my “two cents”!

    Your post is quite effective because you address the reader directly and help us catch up on your changing attitudes and ideas about your research. This really shows your “journey” of research, and your ability to shape new knowledge and understandings out of lots of separate bits of information. Your thesis will surely allow you to show off all your newly gained knowledge.

    I hope you get a chance to respond to some of the great questions and comments from your peers. (And yes, it is “discuss doing smth” not “discuss on”… however, “we had a discussion on/about…” is fine too. Why is English so hard?!).

    Liked by 1 person

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