Category Archives: Search Strategies



Well after my period of floundering and confusion I am now feeling the pressure of looming due dates hence my new motto “smarter not harder” and I have had to put this into action. I conducted a search on the Eric database and came up with three really useful results. The following screen capture demonstrates how I narrowed my search down.

As you can see I have limited my results to full text and published from 2005 onwards as I simply don’t have the luxury of time to spend searching further. I need anything useful delivered up in an immediately readable format.

With enough scholarly articles to make my head spin, I now wanted to try and find visual images that reflected what I had been reading or showed examples of ‘best practice’ of inquiry-learning in primary school classrooms. So I headed back to Google and the following video demonstrates how I now search SMARTER!










This table shows where the final articles for my annotated bibliography were sourced from. Articles from the A+ Education and Eric database were accessed through the QUT library page. As you can see from the following image when you first go into the QUT virtual library you are given options to choose from. If you know which database you want you can go directly there otherwise you can click on education under the heading: – Databases For: This is what I did and it then takes you to a selection which includes the two databases that I used.

As you can see from the table, seven out of my final eleven resources are from Google which gave me some cause for concern given that Google does filter its sources. But then I remembered that I have the library settings on Scholar linked in to both the QUT and National library of Australia so I was accessing these holdings as well. The Eric and A+ databases did yield very specific results relating to my topic and I was able to utilise the range of options they offer for narrowing down the search. So with the searching done it is now time to consolidate…after a cup of tea of course.




Well I guess Floundering is Good, (Murphy Paul, 2012) as after a period of doing just that I have arrived at a specific focus for my searching. During my last search of the A+ Education Database I came up with the article, How can teacher librarians support technology learning?..This lead to a lot of thinking on my part on the reasons WHY I was doing my masters and, WHAT specifically I wanted to achieve from this subject. I will now continue my search with a focus on how teacher-librarians can lead /assist / guide classes with inquiry learning.

I have returned to the A+ Education Database via the QUT library link and the following video shows the results of about half an hour of both specific and general searches.

The result of these searches was that I moved away from looking for very specific information about the pushcart project to sourcing articles that related to science or design technology and the role of the teacher-librarian in assisting teachers and students with these.







Being an eternal optimist I am going to use the very specific term of ‘pushcart ‘in my initial searches as I know there is a lot of curriculum based material on the internet about this. I am also going to begin with a very simple search string of “inquiry-learning” AND “primary” AND “pushcart”. The purpose of this is as a fishing exercise just to see what’s out there before I broaden my searches.

Not nearly as many results as I was expecting. My Blog is listed as the second and third result. Now, I know there is not much information there (!) but the specific search terms I used appear several times in it. The top result is a PDF of school newsletter.

Google kept predicting inquiry-BASED learning so I repeat the same search using this term instead. Nothing with the use of inverted commas, so why was it telling me to try that term? Some results yielded without inverted commas where the words were picked up individually rather than as I had grouped them.

Google also prompted “push cart” as two separate words so I also tried that yielding different results. There were six bookshops in the top ten and the top two were PDF dissertations where push cart was mentioned in the text but was completely irrelevant to my context.

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 5 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.

I had never come across the above statement before and when I clicked on it the other results were the same original articles listed at different web addresses.


  • The majority of hits were PDFs from schools around Aust who have done the Kids Design Challenge and written about it in their newsletters
  • There were curriculum overviews from various states that I thought may be useful to check for inquiry-learning links.
  • There were some PDFs of whole journals and conference papers and proceedings; I had to scroll through lots of pages to find the relevant section only to reject each as a useful source.
  • Pushcarts are also known as trolleys in the US and the term is also used to describe the push along market stalls in the UK.


SO, onto my new best friend Google Scholar, still using the very specific search terms.


  • Nothing relevant here, the search term “pushcart” although resulting in two hits is too specific, both results are for pushcart vendors
  • Primary is interpreted as ‘primary source’.


Again I go with the specific terms and limit results to full text and post 2000.


EUREKA! One result yielded and it is the perfect article, How can teacher librarians support technology learning?...AND there is a section on pushcarts.



Planning my Search Process.

At this stage of the process I am feeling very excited to finally begin and get to see what’s out there on my information-learning activity (ILA) area. I have brainstormed possible synonyms for my main search terms and considered how I will string these together. Given that there is a lot of information on the net about my ILA I am going to try my luck with very specific terms relating to pushcarts. (See below)

If this very specific approach does not yield sufficient results I will then do a much more general subject heading search, trying mainly in science and design areas. (See below)