Critical Literature Review
requirement for the master's degree in applied developmental and educational psychology
The purpose of the Critical Literature Review is to demonstrate proficiency in reviewing, synthesizing, and critically analyzing the scientific literature in an appropriately limited area of developmental or educational psychology. The Critical Literature Review requirement serves as the comprehensive exam in the Master’s program in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology.
Nature of the Paper
Most reviews average 20-30 pages in length, and review approximately 15-20 key published sources. The topic of the review should be limited to a single cohesive subject within the fields of developmental or educational psychology. Topics that are overly specific will not provide enough breadth of information to support an argument. Topics that are too broad will not provide enough depth to sustain a convincing argument.
Reviews should summarize and critique a body of literature, using developmental theory as a mechanism to analyze the topic. A substantial portion of the review should be devoted to a critical analysis (not simply a summary) of the literature. In short, the literature should be used to build a coherent argument based on an individual’s own assessment of the literature. Areas of consensus as well as discrepancies and disagreements should be discussed, and questions for future research posed. In preparation for writing the paper, students should study journal articles which present arguments based on the review, synthesis, and analysis of a body of literature.
The literature review should follow the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA) for presentation of references in the text and the reference list. Complete rules for style are contained in the APA style manual (available in O'Neill Library or online).
|Semester Prior to Graduation||Semester of Graduation|
During the semester prior to that in which one wishes to graduate (e.g., during the fall if planning on graduating at the culmination of spring semester), students should select a topic and conduct an initial literature search. This search should include use of computer databases such as PSYCHLIT or ERIC, and consultation of appropriate handbooks and reviews.
From this initial literature search, each student should prepare
After completion of the initial reading list and proposal, each student should meet with the Program Coordinator to discuss his or her topic. The Program Coordinator, in consultation with the student, will assign a Reader. Readers will be drawn from the full-time faculty of the Developmental and Educational Psychology program, except under unusual circumstances. The student should next consult with the Reader and develop a finalized version of the proposal and reading list.
Register for PY 888 Comprehensive Exam for the semester in which you plan to complete your Critical Literature Review. This should be the final semester of the Master’s program, with graduation occurring at the conclusion of this semester.
Complete the Critical Literature Review Form, which requires the signatures of both the Reader and the Program Coordinator.
Also complete a Request to Graduate/Comprehensive Exam Request form (application to take the comprehensive exam and to graduate, available online).
Submit these two forms, as well as a copy of your Program of Study (printable forms available online), to the Office for Graduate Student Services, Campion 135.
Deadlines for the submission of these forms
Completion of Review and Grading Structure
The Critical Literature Review is to be submitted to the Reader by
May 15 —summer graduation
October 25—winter graduation
March 15—spring graduation
The Critical Literature Review may receive a grade of Pass, Pass with Distinction, or Fail. Candidates should be aware, however, that readers often require a revision before assigning a final grade. For this reason, the required deadlines allow time for revision.
If a revision is required, the revised Review must be handed in by
June 30—summer graduation
December 1—winter graduation
April 25—spring graduation
Assuming a passing grade, the Reader must submit a Comprehensive Exam Report at least two weeks prior to graduation for the program requirements to be met.
Students who receive a grade of Fail on the Critical Literature Review will not meet the requirements for graduation. Per university policy, students who fail their comprehensive exam (Critical Literature Review) are entitled to take the exam one additional time. That is, following feedback from the Reader, a student is entitled to complete one additional revision of the Critical Literature Review, which must be submitted within one year (by the Revisions Deadline the following calendar year). This final revision will again receive a grade of Pass, Pass with Distinction, or Fail.
If undertaking a revision following an initial failure, students must once again register for PY888 and submit the appropriate forms in the semester in which they plan to complete the Critical Literature Review and graduate.