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What is a Critical Literature Review?
A literature review is an account of information published on a topic by scholars and researchers in scholarly journals and publications. The purpose of a literature review is to convey to your reader the knowledge and ideas, in strengths and weaknesses, established on a topic. As a piece of writing, the literature review is defined by a guiding concept–for example, your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing, or your argumentative thesis. It is not just a descriptive list of the material available or a set of summaries.
Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, in writing a literature review you gain and demonstrate skills in information seeking and critical appraisal. Information seeking is the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, and to identify a set of useful articles and books. Critical appraisal is the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.
A literature review must:
Be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing.
Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known.
Identify areas of controversy in the literature.
Formulate questions that need further research.
Critical Literature Review Instructions
There are two goals for the course project.
The first goal is to gain in-depth knowledge of the practical use of an instrument related to your current or future occupation or area of specialization.
The second goal is to learn how to critically evaluate the use of any psychological assessment instrument.
The specific project objectives are presented below.
To successfully complete this project, you will be expected to:
Evaluate the different administration methods of an assessment instrument.
Evaluate the psychometric properties of an assessment instrument.
Apply standards and principles for assessment when using an assessment instrument.
Evaluate a psychological measure.
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Project Requirements
To achieve a successful project experience and outcome, you are expected to meet the following requirements.
Specific Content Requirements
Submit a Critical Literature Review on a psychological instrument currently used in your present or future occupation or area of specialization. You may choose to further investigate one of the instruments you evaluated in Unit 3 or Unit 4. However, the reviews obtained from the Mental Measurements Yearbook cannot be used as primary sources or as article summaries. The reviews may be used for comparison purposes, and they may be included as additional references for your review.
Select and summarize 10-12 articles from scholarly or peer-reviewed journals and publications. You will find full text articles in the Capella Library’s many journal databases, such as PsycINFO, which has APA journals. The articles must be directly related to your chosen instrument and area of specialization.
Note: You may not use Web sites or books for this project.
As you prepare your final paper, be sure to incorporate the following points noted in Parts 1-3 in your document.
Part 1: Introduction (2-3 pages)
The introduction provides an overview of the material covered in your literature review.
At a minimum, it must contain the following:
State your thesis statement, problem statement, or research question.
Explain how the literature review pertains to your current or future occupation or area of specialization.
Discuss the relevant psychological theory or theories most relevant in terms of explaining the psychological underpinnings of the chosen instrument.
Discuss the type of instrument (such as intelligence, personality, neurological, psychoeducational, aptitude, ability, or achievement) that is the focus of your literature review.
Give the purpose of the instrument as indicated by the authors.
Discuss how the instrument is currently being used.
Part 2: Main Section or Body (10-12 pages)
The main section or body of the literature review will be comprised of two main sections, Article Summaries and an Evaluation of a Psychological Measure.
Section 1: Article Summaries (3-5 pages)
Give a brief summary to describe each article that discusses the following:
Purpose of the research as stated by the author or authors.
Methods used in the research that include the specific research methodology and statistical analyses used in the research.
Information pertaining to the demographic characteristics of the subjects such as age, gender, occupation, education, and other relevant information.
The setting in which the research was conducted such as educational, business, or clinical.
The summary of research results. Discuss the major findings of the research, and the author conclusions, suggestions for future research, and so on.
Section 2: Evaluation of a Psychological Measure (7-9 pages)
This section will consist of your evaluation of the literature you compiled. The evaluation of the psychological measure must synthesize the findings from your review of the literature with information and material presented in the course. Your evaluation must include a discussion of the major assumptions of testing, the relevant APA/NASP Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and an evaluation of psychometric properties for the instrument you chose.
Address the following in your evaluation section:
Administration methods.
Identify the different administration methods used for the measure in the research.
Evaluate those methods and recommend best practices for administration.
APA/NASP standards and ethical principles of testing.
Discuss the major APA/NASP standards most relevant to the articles you selected and why the standards are most relevant.
Discuss the degree to which the APA/NASP standards were adhered to in the research.
Discuss the ethical principles of testing most relevant to the articles you selected and why the principles are most relevant.
Discuss the degree to which the ethical principles of testing standards were adhered to in the research.
Psychometric properties reported in the literature.
Evaluate the psychometric properties of instruments as presented in the literature.
Discuss the similarities and differences of the psychometric properties across the various articles.
Identify articles that may have omitted this information from the published article. Discuss how the omission of such information may have affected the scholarly value of the article.
Discuss the psychometric properties of reliability, validity, normative sample, and errors of measurement. Give specific numbers for each property and interpret those numbers as being low, medium, or high in accordance with interpretation guidelines presented in the course.
Discuss the concept of bias in the assessment process.
Include a discussion of the types of bias present when using the selected instrument with a given population.
Describe steps taken to reduce the effects of test bias.
Discuss the degree to which the demographic characteristics of participants in the research reflect the demographic characteristics of the participants reported in the normative-standardization sample of the instrument.
Discuss which omitted articles omitted this information.
Discuss how the omission of such information affected the scholarly value of the article.
Discuss the degree to which the instrument is used across disciplines. If the articles only identified one setting, indicate the setting in which the instrument is primarily used.
Website icon Capella Library: Finding Test & Measurement Instruments.
Part 3: Conclusion (3-5 pages)
The conclusion must summarize your findings relative to the material presented in the course and include the following:
Write a brief summary that includes an overview of the major points of similarity among the articles, a summary of the major points of differences among the articles, and a discussion of how the literature supports or contradicts your thesis statement, problem statement, or research question.
Discuss whether the instrument is being used as it was intended to be used. Your discussion must be referenced to the text and research findings.
State your position on the overall validity and reliability of the instrument or instruments relative to the results of your research. Use information presented by Kaplan and Saccuzzo (2005) to discuss whether the reported indices for validity and reliability represent low, medium, or high values.
State your position regarding the usefulness of the instrument relative to the results of your research. Your opinion must be based specifically on your findings. Discuss specifically the findings of your research as it has shaped your opinion.
Discuss how this material has added to, clarified, or enhanced your understanding of the topics presented in the course. Discuss the specific chapters from the text and the specific course topics that your research has supplemented or clarified for you.
Address how this information has contributed to your current or future professional, personal, and academic knowledge base.
Include any additional comments you feel are necessary.
General Requirements
Length: The Critical Literature Review must be 15-20 pages in length, not including the cover page, abstract, table of contents, and references.
Format: Present your Critical Literature Review using APA format.
References: Include a minimum of 10-12 references, and apply appropriate references for the supporting research, citations, and literature review as follows:
The article entries of the Annotated Bibliography are your list of references for the paper. Do not submit the entire Annotated Bibliography as your list of references. Reformat the document so that it adheres to the requirements of the APA Manual (6th ed.) for references.
Reviews obtained from the Mental Measurements Yearbook cannot be used as article summaries. The reviews may be used for comparison purposes and included as additional references for your review.
Written Communication: Written communication successfully conveys the message and is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
Required Sections
Cover Page – List the following:
Title of your paper.
Your name.
Your specialization or program.
Title and number of the course.
The current quarter and year at Capella.
Your e-mail address.
Your instructor’s name.
Abstract – A brief summary or synopsis of your proposal.
Table of Contents.
Body of the research paper – The body will present your content, with the following headings and subheadings appropriately placed:
Article Summaries and a critical Evaluation of the Psychological Measure.
References – List of articles summarized and cited in your paper.
Kaplan, R. M., & Saccuzzo, D. P. (2005). Psychological testing: Principles, applications, and issues. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Your instructor may also use the APA Writing Feedback Rubric to provide additional feedback on your writing ability.

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