I think before beginning the exploration of this search engine, we need to refocus our cobra pose so we can tackle the next half of our searching head on! I think because this is all new to me, it has taken a really long time and delivered me with quite a few headaches from stress and nerves. It always helps to refocus, take a few breaths and take a fresh look on things. For that reason I have included a short clip of 37 relaxing yoga poses, each a minute long, to get us all relaxed, give us a fresh mind and a brain which is ready to be exercised again!
I have not used Informit A+ Education for quite sometime as I have always defaulted to the QUT library website since beginning my Masters. When I first went to the website, A+ Education, I already felt a sense of clarity as the website is clearly laid out and easy to navigate. I took a few hours to first go through the website and have a play around with its functions. It is very informative as it gives a really good overview of their history and facts and figures relating to their searches as you can see below.
Figure 1. Screen shot taken from A+ Education. Created by Author
Figure 2. Screen shot taken from A+ Education. Created by Author
As you can see by the above images, A+ Education gives an impressive introduction on their main page. I think this is a great way to draw potential searchers in, as we begin searching with sufficient background information behind the program. It also supplies us with a list of all their key subjects and titles so we know exactly what we can search for and what areas will be covered, rather than going into the search blind.
And so ... the real searching begins
My search will be structured around one of my initial questions as well as incorporating a question that came up from my Google Scholar searching. I have found some great research about how to implement inquiry learning and how to incorporate IT; however, how do you create the environment in which this all happens? I then want to incorporate a question from my last search and add in the IB PYP program and then more specifically, how do you create an IB PYP inquiry learning environment? I think to teach inquiry learning (or any type of learning) the environment has to fit and draw students in.
The good thing about A+ Education search is that it is Australian based so you don't need to use so many alternate terms such as SOSE OR Social Studies, Primary OR elementary etc.
Image 1. Accessed from A+ Education Informit Search. Screen shot created by Author
One surprise was that you need to be a registered user to use this search engine (Image 1). Obviously this is fair enough as there are millions of rescues available and lucky for us we are able to gain access being QUT students.
Image 2. Accessed through A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author.
I started my above search in the 'Simple' Search tab and began with terms excluding any Boolean Operators. Surprisingly this gave me 6 results which were actually very relevant. A+ Education gathered all my terms and found results that included them all. I shouldn't be too surprised though as the International Baccalaureate in quirky based so there should be quite a lot of hits coming back with those terms. I had the "Full Text" option selected as this was me preference as well as wanting all databases to be searched.
Next step: Advanced Search using Simple Boolean Operators but before starting, I would like to use the Thesaurus and Browse Index for a larger variety of synonyms, awareness of how A+ is searching for words and deeper knowledge into my search terms.
Image 3. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author.
Image 4. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author
Image 5. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author
Image 6. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author
The above Thesaurus and 'Browse Index' searches proved to be quite helpful. Before I start my more complex searches I now know that A+ Education prefers Inquiry to Enquiry and also produces a few results for 'Guided'. I will now use this information to me advantage and use these terms in my search as they appear to be quite helpful and relevant. When I 'Browsed Index' for Baccalaureate, there are quite a few hits so this should also be used to my benefit when searching. I really like how this function allows you to choose which Thesaurus to use and also lets you have the option to search for other term variations.
Image 7. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author
My second search (Image 7) incorporated a few varieties of Boolean Operators such as parenthesis, OR, AND as well as using synonyms. This search produced some fantastic results which used all of my terms. I decided to include "enquiry" learning even though my thesaurus search did not come back with promising results, because I wanted to see if by chance it would produce anything different. In the Top 10 searches there were no results that had "enquiry", they all preferred the word "inquiry". I decided to leave the year range blank but I will definitely use this in one of my next searches.
Kym picked up that my OR operator was outside the bracket. I have gone back to A+ Education search and changed this to see if there was any difference. Strangely there wasn't, but I really value and thank her for her feedback because I usually put the OR in the bracket so this was clearly a careless error that could cause potential problems with other searches.
Next step: Using more advanced wildcard techniques such as: (*) and (?)
Image 8. Access from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author.
Image 9. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author
Even though my search (Image 8 & 9) came back with only 1 result, it is a really good example of how effective using the wildcard (*) is. Due to my question being based around wanting to create an inquiry based classroom using IB methods, it came back with a whole bunch of terms that could possibly be aimed at what I am looking for. This result is very helpful as it not only has found an IB result, it has discussed how to establish creativity in the classroom.
I kept 'guided' in my search because of my promising thesaurus results as well as tying (?) instead of "Inquiry OR enquiry". In this case it did not help with my search.
Next Step: Putting my entire search string into "Simple Search", using a year/date range operator and trying to use the % operator so that I can get my terms within a certain number of words of each other.
Image 10. Accessed from A+ Education Informit. Screen shot created by Author.
I decided to go back to the simple search and put in my entire search string to see if it would make a different. Even though it produced 1 result, I feel it picked up my operators much better as the advanced search kept coming up with no results.
Advantages & Limitations
Problems & how I overcame them
One of the problems on my search, which included the % symbol came back with no results. I knew this couldn't have been an issue with the search engine I explored reasons why this could have been the case. One good thing about A+ Education's webpage is that it provides you with a 'How to guide' which provides information on ever Boolean Operator and search technique that A+ Education recognises. I then came to realise that I was putting the % in the wrong spot and also including spaces where I shouldn't have been. Once I played around with a few different orders and put the spaces where it told me to, it gave me more results.
I think when you research and make your way into Kuhlthau's 'Exploration' Stage you find feelings of confusion, frustration and doubt and until you explore more and try and experiment with many different search techniques and Operators, it is not until then that these feelings will morph into the more 'Increased Interest' mode of cognitive thinking.
Image 11. Carol Kuhlthau's Model of the Information Search Process (2007). Accessed from Kuhlthau's website - RUTGERS
Reflection & More questions
Although A+ Education has thousands of databases to search from, it does not produce many results when you narrow the search string using Boolean Operators. The best results I got was from simply putting in 'Inquiry Learning IB' which indicates that perhaps it prefers the more simplistic of searching techniques.
I did find it frustrating after a while when it times out. Perhaps this wouldn't be an issue if we weren't searching for so long and taking screen shots etc but I think for a research based website, there should be a lot longer time out than 10 minutes and people can search for hours looking for the best source.
A+ Education Informit offers many filters which came in handy. The thesaurus was very helpful as it allowed me to put together a mind map of terms very easily and get a better idea of terms which A+ Education prefers. It of course is an advantage for us having an Australian based search engine, especially since we are studying units based around the Australian Curriculum
Like every search I have done, I always leave asking more questions.
1. A few of the articles included aspects of a concept called 'POGIL' - What is it?! From reading a few articles I think Mathematics and Science would be great subjects to try this with.
2. I have done a good job in finding lots of information on my first initial question, however there is still more information to be found on the topic of Maths. How can I further create an inquiry environment in my Maths lessons - especially when teaching rather prescriptive work.
3. I want to look more into Kuhlthau's work on Guided Inquiry. I used it a lot in this A+ Education search so I would like to dive deeper into this theory and concept.
Making Changes based on Feedback
Kym very kindly pointed out that perhaps one of my search strings was incorrect. I went back and had a look at my search string and had not even realised what I had done. I usually put OR in the brackets, but for some reason on this occasion I didn't! This is the second time I have come across this mistake (the other 2 were in Google)- I really do need to be more careful but at times I go cross eyed from looking at the computer for too long! To be honest the results didn't change too much but I made sure I went back and checked and listened to her comments. Kym also pointed out that I had embedded the link for A+ Education rather than hyperlinked it, I hadn't realised this as I do it for most of my other links, so another careless mistake that thankfully Kym picked up for me. I have also Italicised some of the terms such as 'Google and Google Scholar'. Feedback is so helpful because it enables people to pick up mistakes that you did not see and change them to make sure your blog is top notch!
The Yogi of Inquiry Learning and Re-search