Since my first degree I haven't gone near ProQuest as a search engine so I am rather excited to refresh my memory. This seems to be an ongoing theme in my beginning sentences to my blog but I think we have been rather spoilt by having access at our fingertips to the QUT Database.
I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that I can go into Proquest with a better understanding and being far more confident with how to search and use all these different Boolean Operators and techniques. It has been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience so far and I am only too happy to keep going. I never even knew these the search techniques existed and feel I have been exposed to a whole other world out there!
Down to business .... ProQuest is an American Database so I will need to include a few synonyms and alternate spellings in my searches. 'It is a Database that preserves rich, vast and varied information – whether historical archives or today’s scientific breakthroughs – and packages it with digital technologies that enhance its discovery, sharing and management. For academic, corporate, government, school and public libraries, as well as professional researchers, ProQuest provides services that enable strategic acquisition, management and discovery of information collections' (Proquest, 2016).
Image 1. Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Image 2. Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Image 3. Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
My Searches & Results
Table of ProQuest search strings. Created by Author in Weebly
Samples of my Searches
Sample 1. Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
As you can see in Sample 1, it proves that to narrow a search, a good function is the 'Peer Reviewed' option as it discards any resources that have not been reviewed. I also really enjoy how there are little symbols next to each search result so that you know if it is a scholarly journal, magazines etc. It is also very clear which words it has matched for you by highlighting them in the view of each result.
Next Image (Example): An explanation of each filter you can choose from and how the results appear once searched
Example of how each result page appears. Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 2. Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 2 shows am example of our search string using NEAR/n. This option ensures that your terms are within a certain number of words to each other but in not specific order. In this search string I also opted to use maths as an alternate and elementary which may have impacted the amount of results I came across.
I am also going to take out 'learning environment' as I think that is hindering my results by making it too specific. I think, if I take those terms out it should still deliver me results with classroom based ideas. I am also going to add in that I do not want Secondary.
Possibly an element that added to having many results was due to me forgetting to put OR in brackets. I changed this in my search table and made corrections.
Next Step: To narrow this search I am going to try the PRE/n option rather which will make sure the words are within a certain parameter of each other but also in order.
Sample 3. Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
This was my most successful string, I was super excited to see many relevant and interesting results. By taking out 'learning environment' and narrowing my search to NOT include secondary, it came back with results that were more specific to my needs. The first result as you can see above, is exactly what I wanted. It is about mathematics in the inquiry classroom of primary aged students and it includes how to make mathematics classrooms inquiry based - SUCCESS!!!
Next Step: After using PRE/n and having some great results, I wanted to take it one step further and include ProQuests technique of EXACT.
Sample 4(a). Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 4(b). Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 4(c). Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 4(d). Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
Sample 5. Access from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
As you can see from my sequence images, I had a little trouble using EXACT. Firstly it did not like what I put in, I think I was putting in spaces and words all in the wrong order ...
1. It told me it did not ping back any results so I should modify my search and try again .... so I did (a)
2. I also tried typing my search into the "Advanced" table but it redirected me back to the Simple search page (b)
3. I just put in "Inquiry Learning" and Mathematics to try and make it more simple (c)
4. It came back with 3 results. I think it knew I was struggling (hehehe) so it gave me some suggestions! (c)
5. I clicked on the suggestion and it appeared to me in a big box with a bunch or different terms I can try (d)
6. After I clicked on their suggestion it searched for me and came back with 1, 287 results (Sample 5)
It was very helpful of ProQuest to have this function, however I was a bit disappointed to see that it took our my element of 'Inquiry Learning' which is ultimately what I was looking for. I can see why this function would be very helpel for people doing very basic searches, however I think because we are all looking for some specific topics, this might be a reason for it to not recognise all the terms in their EXACT location, title and order.
I also tried out the "Advanced Tab" because I had not used it yet. I thought it might be a breakthrough but it redirected me back to the Simple Search page so I just stuck with this search.
Next Step: I am going to use my best search string and try out some filters
Sample 6. Accessed from ProQuest. Screen shot created by Author
As you can see above in Sample 6, I used my most successful search string of : inquiry PRE/4 mathematics teaching (primary OR elementary) NOT secondary and applied some filters. I applied the 'Publication Date' filter so that I could make sure my sources were all from the last 5 years. It was very successful as it came back with 34 results which is about 60 less than when I did not apply this filter.
One other positive about this search string is that it came back with some extremely helpful and relevant sources!
Advantages & Limitations
Problems & how I overcame them
As you witnessed above, I had a rather tense moment of not getting any results from the EXACT search method I was trying. As I am not an expert at this 'searching' business YET .... I know that potentially it is not the search engine that is making a mistake, it must be something I am doing. After reading ProQuests tips information and also going back to my University notes, I wanted to try a couple of different things first.
After trying a different search string and also taking words out and putting spaces in etc, I came back with 3 results. I still thought this was a bit odd, seeing as I was searching for 'inquiry' and 'maths' which you would think would come back with a few results.
One of the bonuses about ProQuest is it seems to want to help you out. This is where I discovered their 'related searches' option and saw that they were happy to create the search string themselves to help me out. This is a great component, however I was disappointed to see that they had taken out a couple of my key words - perhaps to get results?
What I learnt from this experience is PERSEVERANCE. Of course this isn't a topic that is familiar to many of us studying this course, but by using my 'Cobra Pose' to tackle obstacles that come my way, I was able to put on my positive hat and preserver through trial and error. How are we to learn if we don't fail at times?
Reflection & Further Questions
ProQuest has probably been the 2nd best search engine I have tried. I particularly enjoyed Google Scholar, but ProQuest follows closely behind. I felt a lot more calm and relaxed when I was searching this engine, more so than A+ Education, which is sad because I am all for Australian things! This also could be because I am getting better and more confident at searching!
I really enjoy all the added filters and the way in which ProQuest tries to help you with related searches and also when you put something that is 'wrong' in, it helps you and gives you suggestions. I experienced this with my problem, and even though it was frustrating and disheartening at times, it was quite easy to fix.
Further questions that have developed in my yogi mind ....
1. There have been many articles based around inquiry learning and the benefits for the individual child - which way is better to teach? Let the students work in a group to share and spark each others minds, or individually so they can develop their own ideas?
2. What other Inquiry Learning frameworks are there?
3. I have been lucky enough to teach single sex girls, boys and co-ed. Does one gender strive at Inquiry Learning more than the other? Stereotypically, boys are said to have more eccentric imaginations, does this help?
The Yogi of Inquiry Learning and Re-search