Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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Preliminary Examinations
Department of Teacher Education

Table of Contents

Prelim Policies

Each Ph.D. student in the Department of Teacher Education will satisfactorily complete a writing task in which they demonstrate their ability to critically analyze a scholarly article.

Your task is to write a critical review of one article. On March 30, you will receive a series of articles from which to choose. Choose one of the articles provided to review. To support your review, make explicit references to the article with quotations where appropriate. Your review must not exceed 2500 words including any (optional) references or footnotes. Be sure to address the following dimensions in your review:
  • Summarize the main claims: describe the article's overall purpose and the research approach.
  • Provide a critical review of the article (e.g., evaluate the appropriateness of the research approach; evaluate the relationship between evidence and claims; comment on the rhetorical effectiveness—logical, ethical, political, pedagogical, and aesthetic).

The Department does not endorse one particular format for the critical review of research articles. Therefore, students are free to construct responses in a number of different ways. We provide a comprehensive list of various questions that might be included in such a review below.

Select one article, write the review. Remember to save your work frequently. Your response should not exceed 2500 words. Please provide a complete list of all references. Upload your review to the designated ANGEL drop box by 5pm on Monday, April 13, 2015. Please do not hesitate to contact the Co-Chairs of the Department Comps Committee anytime while you are taking the examination if you have a question or a concern.

Helpful Ideas for Writing a Review
Your task is to write a critical review of a scholarly article. Your review should be about 2500 words in length, including any (optional) references or footnotes. Your review should include a clear thesis statement (What is the main point that you are making in your review?), and several claims that are made in support of your thesis statement. A good critical review includes both a summary and evaluation – these could be separate sections or integrated throughout. In other words attend to the main claims of the article (i.e., what is the problem, what evidence is brought to bear, what does the article want us to know and believe?), and then take a stance towards those main claims (i.e., how and why is the article effective, believable, important, etc.?). To support your review, make explicit references to the article with quotations where appropriate.

Formatting: Single spaced, 12 pt font. Use appropriate formatting for references (e.g., APA, Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, etc.)

At this point in the process we are most concerned that you engage deeply in the conceptual argument, and how that argument is developed and situated. In other words, how do make sense of the argument being made in the manuscript under review, and how do you "talk back" to that argument? We are less concerned that you critically review the methods employed because you are not methods experts yet. Few of you have taken research methods courses in educational research. Thus, we encourage you, for now, to consider the following guiding questions:
  • What is the purpose of the article: Is the article’s purpose to inform? To advocate policy change? To influence future research? To criticize injustices? To introduce a new venue for research or analysis? To reaffirm and apply an existing theory?
  • What thesis is the article is trying to establish, defend, or prove? In building this thesis, what position is the article trying to oppose or refute?
  • How is this argument situated in the literature - what literature is cited? what frameworks are used? what assumptions are made?
  • How does this argument contribute to the literature?
  • Are the findings and conclusions supported? How consistent and comprehensive are the author's conclusions with the reported results? Are the conclusions supported by the data and analyses? Are the claims appropriately qualified according to the evidence presented?
  • Is the article persuasive? In other words, has the article made a good case on behalf of the thesis that it maintains or defends? Are the arguments good ones? If so, why? If not, why not?

Do not try to "answer" these questions in your response. Rather, use the questions to help you unpack the article.


This is the rubric that the Comps Committee uses to evaluate the exams.The table got a little scrunched up when it was cut and paste onto this page, but the idea is that reviewers use the space under the columns "Passing" and/or "In need of revision" to document evidence from the exam regarding each criterion.

In need of revision
Demonstrates an understanding of the article reviewed, such as
  • Key concepts and their use
  • Relationship between the questions posed and the design of the study

  • Presents a clear, original, reasonable and defensible thesis
  • Situates the argument in a literature base, one’s perspectives & commitments with respect to education, etc.

Structure of the Argument
  • Thesis is connected to the rest of the paper
  • The paper makes several clear, well reasoned, justified, and connected points to support the thesis
  • Connections to the article are clear and accurate
  • Supporting literature is brought in as appropriate

  • Makes an attempt to answer the “so what” question

Writing convention
  • Follows conventions of academic English (in terms of syntax, grammar, lexical choices that are relevant to the topic of the article, etc.)
  • Uses a specific style guideline (e.g., APA, Chicago, etc.).
  • In both cases, if not, the writing veers from those conventions for clearly articulated reasons.

Writing coheres discursively at the level of a single text; that is, it makes sense.

Past prelim policies:
For more complete information regarding the policy for taking and passing the example, please visit the Prelim Policy Page.