Literature reviews require students to conduct an extensive and critical review of literature related to a chosen topic.
With a similar structure and length to an essay, the focus of a literature review assignment is to summarise and analyse the literature to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a topic.
It's a rigorous assessment task that can be tailored for different levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study.
When to use a literature review
Literature reviews can be used when students need to:
- show knowledge and understanding
- do research
- manage information
- interpret sources
- review and analyse
- think critically
- demonstrate academic writing skills.
Advantages and limitations
- Asynchronous assessment task that enables deep engagement with subject content.
- Flexibility of topic choice promotes authenticity, relevance to individual students and increased engagement.
- Develops research skills relevant to all disciplines.
- Scaffolds learning in early subjects in preparation for capstone and research subjects.
- Research process promotes active learning.
- Can be developed as a group assignment.
- Requires clear instructions to help students stay focused on their topic.
- Format may be unfamiliar to students.
- May advantage students with well developed writing skills.
- When developed as group assignments, can be difficult to assess individual contributions.
- Time-consuming to grade.
- Need to ensure adequate resources are available.
Things to keep in mind
When using literature reviews as assessment items, consider the following pointers:
- Make sure the topic is aligned with learning outcomes and subject content.
- Consider limiting the outcomes to be assessed to help students maintain focus.
- Clearly define the topic and scope of the article to be written.
- Show and discuss examples of format, structure and style.
- Make sure the length is appropriate for the level of study.
- Provide key reference articles on the chosen topic. Ensure they are available through the library.
Sample literature reviews:
The following resources are for students and are useful as instructional resources. They also provide guidance in terms of designing a literature review assessment: