Expert Searching – ProQuest Education

I was at first, a little astonished by the number of databases offered by ProQuest. Obviously for the purpose of this blog I shall be using the Education database, however I am intrigued to return at a later date to explore the other databases.

To demonstrate expert searching techniques using ProQuest Education, I shall be researching the third and final question of my initial questions:

How can we create meaningful learning experiences that can be connected directly with students’ life experiences?

In order to ensure continuity between my previous searches and this one, I shall once again be completing a series of basic searches using the simple search option, recording the number of results, commenting on the usefulness of the search, and rating it between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest).

Phrase Results Commentary Rating
Inquiry learning 157,639 A large number of results covering a variety of topics, most prominent being ICT and tertiary education oriented. 4
“Inquiry learning” 3,053 By introducing the double quotation marks, the search immediately returned only titles with “inquiry learning” in them. This was the first of all the searches I have completed for the double quotation marks to make a significant change to the title of the results. Results were still orientated towards ICT and older students. 5
“Meaningful learning” 9,164 All results were about creating meaningful learning experiences within the classroom. Each result was more orientated towards high school students. The results were a helpful initial search into the effect of meaningful learning. 5
“Inquiry learning” “meaningful learning” 343 Each results appeared to be focused primarily on inquiry learning, however each mentioned meaningful learning within each body of text provided. A few results were particularly helpful results in understanding the connection between inquiry and meaningful learning. 7
“Student learning” 93,595 The majority of results returned for this search were directly related to assessment to gauge student learning and understanding. Small numbers of results discussed the influence of ICT on student learning. 6
“Student learning” “meaningful learning” “inquiry learning” 246 I was surprised to receive results when using three phrases. Each result mentioned at least a combination of the two phrases. A significant amount of results were orientated towards high school students, and were related to specific learning disciplines rather than whole curriculum. 7

I have so far found ProQuest to be quite a useful search tool. By introducing Boolean Operators into the search, I was able to narrow my searches down significantly. It would appear that ProQuest, just like Google, does not need the addition of AND when typing in two separate phrases. It appears that ProQuest also treats the space as an AND. For example:

“Inquiry learning” “meaningful learning” = 343 results

“Inquiry learning” AND “meaningful learning” = 343 results, most of which appear to be similar to the previous search.

To further investigate the capabilities of ProQuest Education, I shall complete a series of slightly more complex searches using the advanced search options.

Straight away I noticed some things about the advanced search options. The inclusion of the ability to search peer reviewed texts only particularly excited me. The option to select publication dates, as well as the option to ask a librarian for help all point to a database that is designed for ease of use and maximum return of results for each search.Search 13

Search 1: The following search allowed me to narrow down my results to primary based results, and to publications within the last 10 years. The results were particularly helpful in researching the initial question, providing insight into the correlation between inquiry learning and meaningful learning within the classroom.Search 14

Search 2: In this search I specifically told the database NOT “teachers.” I first tried doing this by using -teachers, however I received a number of result that included teachers in them. I therefore wondered if certain Boolean Operators did not work within ProQuest, of if I had done something wrong. I also ensured that the search would only return peer reviewed results that have been published within the past 10 years. Despite the small number of returns, I was pleased with the quality of the result.Search 15

It is clear to me that the sheer number of resources available to ProQuest Education ensures that it is able to produce results, despite deliberate limitations to the search. I have found the search functions provided by the advanced search, coupled with the side bar to be the easiest platform to narrow searches so far.

Search 16

Finally, the search function that had me most excited about ProQuest, was the ability to save searches. As someone who regularly researches like topics, the ability to save searches and access them again quickly seems very helpful.

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