Posted 24th August, 2014
“I am searching
I am not alone
I am searching
Please, give me some …”
HELP! Inxs’ lyrics talk of losing direction and hoping tomorrow will bring a better day. I too am in need of direction and hope that unpacking Inquiry Based Learning (IBL), using Boolean Operators and various databases, will bring me direction and a brighter day. So how do you go about unpacking a theory or methodology? In this instance, reflect on unpacking after a vacation and how tedious, yet memorable the disassembling of the bag minutiae can be – the shared experiences, new encounters and new learning can all come flooding back by picking up a single item. It’s a time for reflecting on the old (must discard those socks), the new, and steps you took along the way. Unpacking Inquiry Based Learning may not be the aftermath of that long awaited vacation, however, it has shared experiences, new discoveries/learning and reflection on the steps implemented to achieve a solution or outcome. Reflection is a dominant element of this process and supports learning through critical thinking skills.
Creating mind maps is just one method which can assist with the development of critical thinking skills and it offers the developer a point of reference for reflection. To begin unpacking IBL, I found this exercise of mapping salient points and developing sub-criteria was imperative to clarifying my approach for conducting database searches. It is these elements which interest me, as they specifically relate to implementing IBL in an adult learning environment. From previous, general searches (QUT library, Google and Google Scholar), I have located only one article directly relates to the Australian Vocational and Training Sector and specifically refers to inquiry learning. I’m getting ahead of myself… Searching! Can it be simplified and if so, where do you commence and in which direction do you head? To assist with this process the following table demonstrates –
- my initial search direction
- changes I applied to realise my specific results
- Boolean Operators I utilised to refine the parameters of my searches
- databases and search engines I accessed – Google, Google Scholar, A+ Education (via Informit) and ProQuest
- the results of searches I conducted.
|Search Terms & Boolean Operators||Search Engine & Database||Results|
|Inquiry based learning||Google – 10 million results – reviewed first 10 results||
|Inquiry based learning||Google Scholar – 175K – reviewed first 10 results||
|At this stage I refined the parameters of the search using Boolean and introduced another element from the mind map – information technology.|
|“inquiry based learning” AND “information literacy”||Google Scholar – 707 – reviewed first 10 results||
|“inquiry based learning” AND “information literacy”||A+ Education – 5 results – only 2 results covered areas in my mind map||
|My mission is to use the existing phrases and parameters and now introduce “enquiry” into the search.|
|“inquiry based learning” OR “enquiry based learning” AND “information literacy”||ProQuest – 11 educational databases searched with 2896 results – 18th result||
|Introducing enquiry into the equation blew out the results. Back to the previous search.|
|“inquiry based learning” AND “information literacy”||ProQuest – 11 educational databases searched with 220 results – majority of results referred to school based research||
|“inquiry based learning” AND “information literacy” NOT “schooling”||ProQuest – 11 educational databases searched with 177 – 28th result (usually I don’t go beyond first page of results||
This was not an exhaustive search for references relating to the criteria listed in my mind map, however, it was detailed, rewarding (at times a little frustrating), and time-consuming. What did I learn from this task? Boolean Operators are extremely useful if used effectively. At times I felt like I had “L Plates” strapped to my back and I was in a tail spin with the pedal firmly planted to the floor. To solve that dilemma I consulted the ever present YouTube videos on how to conduct searches using Boolean Operators in order to move to a “P Plate” (provisional) searcher. Yes this was successful, I learnt a few truths on how to use Boolean Operators, and I’ve now created my own how to video demonstrating one of my searches. View the video (below) to see the outcome. (Sorry for the sibilant overtones. Suppose a career change to doing voice-overs is out of the question.) From my searching I also verified a long held belief that the web is littered with articles which have not been critiqued. Some articles have been rigorously reviewed while others, well let’s just say, the lack of any referencing or links to sources had me packing my bag.
This experience was as much about unpacking Boolean Operators and search terms and/or phrases as unpacking IBL. I hoped that consulting the Tips section for ProQuest would give me greater insight and refinement for conducting searches, however, the SU.EXTRA (inquiry based learning) search produced zero results. I will pursue these tips in the hope I can locate articles to support my research.
Final result – 10,000,000 (Google) to 9 for my researching. I located a few promising articles which I will review in my annotated bibliography. Until then keeping Googling!