Lit Review Ramblings

Quick post tonight on the status of the lit review. The binder of articles is sitting in front of me and I can almost hear it whispering, “Read us. Read us” to me in a creepy, sinister voice. I almost feel guilty now if I lay on the couch for a bit without a research paper in one hand and a highlighter pen in the other.  I have learned a lesson that I will share with future Masters students: Don’t change your plan 3 months before the first draft of the lit review is due. I mentioned this to a friend who did her Masters a couple of years ago, and her response was, “No. Don’t change your plan mid year.” But I did, and, boy, it was a challenge to find articles with the terms I was using. Thankfully, over Spring Break, I got some sleep, cleared the murkiness of my mind and was able to finagle some keywords and search terms that actually made sense to me. For example, while searching for information on the increasing use of devices and screen time, don’t just search for “Increasing Screen Time Usage”. Nay, nay, You must be specific! How about “Screen Time and Young Children”, “Student Time On Screen” or the real bonanza “Increasing Screen Time Use on Young Children” in the psychology database? Yay!

Oh, and then let’s just talk about the word NATURE. Adding that word to any search brings up a LOT of information on the “Nature of this” or the “Nature of that”, but not usually on actual trees, dirt, insects and you know…Nature. So, the jiggery pokery of search terms began again! Eventually, “Outdoor Learning and Young Children” came up with the best results.

This process has really shown me that the choice of words is key. That one has to look at the term or the subject from many different views before you find the keywords that just hit that perfect “zing” moment. The problem with defining those perfect terms for me though? I got distracted. Something shiny popped up in the search and I had to quickly scan that and see if I could use it to defend a classroom practice, or I found an article that a friend could use, or there was this book that someone else mentioned and I wonder if they have it at the UVIc library? I better go and …. SQUIRREL! (by this point in the process I was starting to wonder how I ever got my undergraduate degree.)

It’s the end of March, classes end on Thursday, and I have admitted to myself that I won’t have the first draft of this Lit Review completed. If I had another week off, maybe. But not at this point. I’m still plugging away, in the hopes that I can get some sort of information slapped together in the roughest form possible. Can a lit review be done as interpretive dance?

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