Expert Searching – A+ Education

I am now feeling a little deflated after my experience with Google Scholar. I didn’t realize that my quest for answers to my initial questions would be so involved. However, from what I have heard about A+ Education, I am quietly optimistic!

To demonstrate expert searching techniques using A+ Education, I have decided to research the second of my initial questions:

How can we move from teacher directed activities to student directed activities, while keeping in mind those students with differentiated learning needs?

In keeping with my previous posts, I have decided to complete a table with some basic searches on A+ Education. I hope to demonstrate the impact Boolean Operators have upon this particular database. I will be using the simple search function, recording the number of results, commenting on the validity of the results, and rating the search between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest).

Phrase Results Commentary Rating
Inquiry learning 2,379 Already the smaller number of results from my initial search makes me feel optimistic. The results are generally orientated towards combining inquiry learning with ICTs, however there are a number of results that are relevant to student engagement. 5
“Inquiry learning” 276 A significantly smaller number of results to the previous search. Each result did not necessarily have “inquiry learning” in to the title, each result does appear to reference an inquiry learning example used within a classroom. Reference to ICT was still the main theme among the results. 5
“Differentiation” 470 This search returned multiple results that covered all aspects of differentiation within the classroom. From adapting teaching styles for students with learning difficulties, to providing for gifted and talent students, the results covered it all. I found this particularly encouraging. 6
“Inquiry learning” “differentiation” 0 There were no results returned for this search. This was most displeasing.

However, when the double quotation marks were removed the search returned 4 results. These results were orientated specifically towards gifted and talented students only.

“Student directed inquiry” 1 This search returned only 1 result. It was an article that examined the student teacher’s first practicum, and how incorporating inquiry learning into their first practicum might assist in equipping student teachers to increase their teaching skills. Although an interesting read, this result was in no way helpful to research. 1
“Student directed inquiry” “differentiation” 0 This search also provided no results. Even with the double quotation marks removed, the result still returned no results. 0

So far, it would seem that more generalized research phrases within the simple search option are more likely to generate the desired results.

The following 4 searches were completed using the advanced search option, with additional Boolean Operators where necessary.

Search 1: During this search I removed all double quotation marks, thus opening up the search as much as possible. The number of results returned, and the quality of the results, caused me to be pleasantly surprised. Furthermore, the results returned covered a variety of different topics surrounding inquiry learning, teacher directed and student directed learning.Search 9

Search 2: Although only 4 results were returned, the final result was particularly relevant to the search. It discussed moving from teacher directed to student centered learning, while keeping in mind students with differentiation needs. So far I am finding it very easy to direct the search using the advanced search functions.Search 10

Search 3: After completing a third search using the advanced search options, I began to wonder if by including the terms I didn’t want the search to find, I had opened up the results instead of limiting the search. I will conduct another search in a similar way to see if the results support this assumption. The results were very pleasing and particularly helpful in a primary context.
Search 11

Search 4: The final search from A+ Education that I would like to comment seems to have supported my assumption that removing some words in the search opens up the search to more possibilities. The search returned a total of 562 results; most of which seemed to be highly relevant and informative. The first result was particularly helpful as it investigates how to support primary teachers in moving from teacher directed to student directed learning through inquiry, using the learning discipline science as the point of reference.Search 12

Initially I was unsure as to how helpful A+ Education would be in my search for information to answer my question. The initial results from the simple search function were rather disheartening. However, when I investigated the advanced search option, and included words the search was to ignore, I was surprised at the turn around of results. Of all the searches I ran through A+ Education, my final search with the most restrictions returned the most results (apart from my very first search on inquiry learning, but this was expected).

I look forward to continuing exploring A+ Education when doing further research on this topic, or in other areas of my study. I find it to be a useful resource when searching Australian educational journals.

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