Review of the Literature: General Rubric and Examples**


Start with a general statement of background information surrounding your project. End with a thesis statement about your project and what you are going to examine during your study.


Review of the Literature

With the transition to high school, middle school students are faced with a four- year journey filled with many options. Students bring to the high school many well-established qualities that influence their academic path and academic success. Who has primary responsibility for determining the optimal path the student will follow? Is it the student, the parent, or the school? What roadblocks are there to finding one specific course of action? For example, in college preparatory Biology, Algebra I is frequently established as a minimum measure of readiness. In response to rising academic rigor, this pre-requisite has only been in place for three years at an affluent, public, suburban school. Is this pre-requisite really necessary for success; or is it a roadblock for access to higher academic tracks? This question  is the subject of this study.


Second paragraph: Explain how you did your search for information, example: Google Scholar using the following search words "cattails" resulted in 625,000 hits, added "san francisco bay" reduced hits to 22,500. The addition of " increasing salinity" reduced choices to 10, 200 hits, etc. End the paragraph with a specific thesis statement listing at least three subtopics of the types of experiments you plan to examine in detail. (NOTE: don't write directions for a search ,describe in the past tense using the format below).


This literature search, covering research from 1986 to 2002, began with the descriptor “tracking” which was later modified to “track placement”  yielded 31 hits on Educational Resources Information Center database (ERIC), a federally-funded national information system. Looking at the descriptor lists on the ERIC database records provided another descriptor “academic achievement.” This descriptor was also used in Infotrac in the Extended ASAP database that provided relevant articles. This literature review has been organized around the following related topics: parental involvement, student self-concept or motivation, course failure, peer influence and school tracking.


Subtopic Sections: Use the format below to write essentially an abstract of the research/ experiment you read, end with a conclusion of the relevance to other studies if possible. Include a critique of each research article (located in the last one or two sentences); includes discussion of possible flaws in the research procedures (i.e. too sample sample size, short time frame), improper analysis of data (i.e. too many variables), contradicts other studies' results, etc. You should have approximately 3 studies per subtopic.


Relationship of Parental Involvement to Student Achievement

              Baker and Stevensen (1986) provide several key pieces of evidence that help explain many of the aspects of parental involvement and the relationship to academic achievement in high SES districts. High SES, is defined by high income, high educational levels, and the advanced occupations among parents (Marsh & Yeung, 1997). Student achievement was positively related not only to the educational level of the students’ mothers, but also to their increased, proactive advocacy for their children over less-educated mothers (Baker and Stevensen, 1986). These researchers also conclude from their interviews of 41 mothers of eighth graders, that high SES students are more likely to be successful because of their parents’ skills in managing school course selection and also by the practices employed by parents at home (e.g. homework supervision). The one drawback, suggested by Baker and Stevensen (1986), that appears among these parents is a tendency to place their children in high academic tracks without due regard for prior grade performance.  


End the Review of the Literature with a summary paragraph or two. Finish the paragraph with a restatement of your own thesis statement.


    The placement of students in high school courses is a multi-dimensional task involving student self-concept, parent involvement and the characteristics of the school. The findings of various studies overwhelmingly confirm that high SES plays a major role in the placement of students in a high academic track. It is difficult to generalize these findings to the placement of students into college preparatory Biology classes, since most of the studies used the math scores from the large NELS: 88 study.

            Does tracking in general actually harm high SES students? There is a lack of research supporting the efficacy of de-tracking Biology courses and also ignoring the traditional pre-requisite of Algebra I for course admission? This research proposal seeks to look at whether or not there is a correlation between self-concept or self-motivation, prerequisites, and academic success in high school Biology.

Last References Cited:  Example



Asakawa, K., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Feelings of connectedness and

Internalization of values in Asian American adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 29, 121-145.

Baker, D.P. & Stevensen, D.L. (1986). Mother’s Strategies for Children’s School

            Achievement: managing the transition to high school. Sociology of Education.  

            59, 156-166.

Cabrera, A.F.& La Nasa, S.M. (2000, May). Using national databases to study the college     

            low-SES students. Paper presented at the annual forum of the Association for

            Institutional Research, Cincinnati, OH. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service

            No. ED 446514)


California Education Code Section 51220-51230. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2002 from

** Examples taken from:  Academic Achievement, Student Self-motivation and Parental Involvement  in Biology Course Selection       A Department Thesis California State University, Hayward, Robin Groch, March 2003