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ESA512 Research Skills Guide: Keywords (Topic Analysis)

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ASSIGNMENT

Your assignment question will generally give you three key pieces of information:

  1. The key topic or concept words provide direction in what to research.
  2. The limits or qualifiers tell you the specific focus of the topic or concept.
  3. The task or instruction terms tell you how to deal with the content.

You have a better chance of finding information and answering your assignment question if you have a clear idea of the concept of your assignment. 

 

For example, Assessment item 2 for ESA512 is:

Choose a contemporary educational issue of interest, with implications for practice within your school system, and write a comparative case study, comparing at least two and no more than three educational jurisdictions and the ways in which each of them addresses challenges, and finds solutions to, the issue chosen.

Key Concept

Possible educational issues (challenges and solutions):

  • Public funding of education
  • Inclusive education
  • Standardized testing
  • Curriculum reform
  • Pre-service teacher education
  • Technology in education
  • Educating for diversity
  • Indigenous education
  • Vocational education
Limits and Qualifiers

Two-three educational jurisdictions

Contemporary

Task or Instructional Term

Comparative case study

Topic analysis

A topic analysis will help you to clarify what your assessment question is asking you to do. It is also the foundation upon which you will build a solid search strategy - so make sure you don't skip this step!

The video below describes the process of conducting a topic analysis.

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

Oxford Reference Online is a huge repository of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and other reference-type material.

Brainstorming keywords

Once you have identified the key concepts of your topic it is often useful to find alternative keywords. 

This is a useful exercise because the words used in the different material might vary and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term.

Keyword Synonyms/Similar Terms
Curriculum Syllabus, subjects, program of studies
Education Literacy, schooling, teaching, training, learning
Diversity Inclusion, marginalisation, culturally diverse, race, ethnicity

Online dictionaries and thesauri can help you identify synonyms or related terms. Oxford Reference is an online collection of dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, companions, and encyclopaedias that can help with this. 

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