Original Publication
Open Access

Guiding Educational Research Projects: Activity-Based Workshops on Writing a Literature Review and Developing Research Questions

Published: July 20, 2015 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10143

Included in this publication:

  • Instructor's Guide.docx
  • Literature Review Workshop.ppt
  • Literature Review Activity.docx
  • Research Questions Workshop.ppt
  • Research Questions Activity.docx

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Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: The number of students indicating that they have participated in a research project with a faculty member during medical school has risen steadily. In the same time period, it has become paramount for students interested in academic medicine to master the tools of educational scholarship. Yet, students typically do not have the background knowledge to engage in educational research projects and do not have the time or resources to devote to more formal training. These materials are designed to assist project mentors as they guide medical students toward the completion of medical education research projects. Students will learn to: (1) incorporate relevant literature into a coherent argument in support of the particular questions they wish to investigate and particular educational approaches they adopt, and (2) frame research questions in ways that align with a feasible research design and analytical plan. Methods: This workshop contains a Literature Review workshop and a Research Questions workshop. Both have accompanying PowerPoint presentations to provide background information and an additional activity for active learning. In the Literature Review workshop, students critique an early draft and compare it to a revision, while in the Research Question workshop they classify and develop questions. The activities can be used as stand-alone resources for those mentors who wish to use their own slides on these topics. Results: On a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Poor, 5 = Excellent), 44 students rated the Literature Review workshop as a 4.7 on average for overall value. Twelve students rated the Research Questions workshop 4.8 on average for overall value. Narrative feedback in response a question asking what was most valuable about this overall resource included the following representative comments: “The final activity, comparing the two (literature reviews), was super powerful. Very well paced presentation. Not too slow, not too much info.” “I really liked applying the knowledge gained from the PowerPoint to the two examples of literature reviews! It was really useful to have the group discussion!” “Great session. I learned a lot about how to phrase my question. I am walking away not with an answer but with a way of thinking.” Discussion: We have established a program for promoting and recognizing educational scholarship that provides students with initial opportunities to frame a project in light of current educational trends and established educational research methodology. The resources can be used separately or sequentially to provide activity-based workshops targeted to some of the specific difficulties medical students encounter in developing projects.

Educational Objectives

By the end of the Literature Review workshop, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the role a critical review of relevant literature plays in a research project.
  2. List key features of effective reviews.
  3. Illustrate various review structures.

By the end of the Research Questions workshop, students will be able to:

  1. Identify criteria for developing research questions that can be answered.
  2. Classify purposes and types of research questions.
  3. Recognize representative research designs that match types of questions.
  4. Create examples of different types of research questions.

Author Information

  • Robert Lebeau, EdD: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

None to report.

None to report.


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Lebeau R. Guiding educational research projects: activity-based workshops on writing a literature review and developing research questions. MedEdPORTAL. 2015;11:10143. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10143