Google

Can’t see the forest for the trees?

Advertisements

screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-9-45-53-am

This blog post examines Expert Searching within Google.  Why Google?  Probably because it’s consistently the world’s most used search engine – so entrenched in popular culture its corporate name has become a verb.  (NB: research into how Google has changed the way we learn is fascinating – you can read an interesting article on that here).  I’m investigating Inquiry learning and considerations for Neurodivergent Learners and am early in my online search for scholarly peer-reviewed articles and other high-level resource materials.  After devising some search strings, I’m conducting some preliminary searches to inform my next search via Google Scholar. Armed with my list of synonyms, I’ve organised them into possible search strings. Here is a visual representation of how that looks.

Search-string-terms-horizontal-tree
Figure 1: Search terms and strings depicted in a horizontal tree dendrogram.  Image by site author using Adobe Illustrator. CC by 2.0

Again, my research questions about Inquiry Learning and Neurodiversity are as follows:

  1. What are the broad considerations for Neurodivergent Learners (students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Inquiry Learning?
  2. How is Inquiry Learning intertwined with Executive Function, Theory of Mind, and Central Coherence cognitive domains?
  3. What specific classroom practices are enabling Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

To realise the full benefits of the Google search engine, a sound grasp of BOOLEAN operators is required, so using AND, OR, NOT and the correct use of brackets, quotation marks around search terms and strings is paramount.  With the overly large list of predicted terms I’ve amassed, I could sit all day and search.  Instead I’ve conducted three initial searches, with rationales for each. As I find relevant resources, I am curating them using the curation tool Scoop.It and the final curation can be found in my Curating Resources blog post.  What follows is a summary of my searches via Google.

Search #1

google-search-string-1
Figure 2: First and Second Tier search terms dendrogram. Image by site author CC by 2.0.

Casting the net very wide, I start with a complex search that involves all of my first and second tier search terms.  This helps identify paths of inquiry to my first question:

  1. What are the broad considerations for Neurodivergent Learners (in this case students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Inquiry Learning?

I have also noticed inquiry learning is often appearing as inquiry-based learning in very early searches, so I test the relevance of this.  In my last search theme I am keen to see how using an emerging term like “neurodiversity” instead of an established term, like “autism” impacts numbers of search results specifically from spheres of education research.  This is curious to me, as two two terms both represent different mindsets: “Autism” (and “Autism Spectrum Disorder”) usually depicts is a deficit-based model in education, while “neurodiversity” (or “neurodivergent”) is an emerging  strengths-based model in education.  Research into autism in education is booming, so “Autism”, as much as I’m personally gravitating away from the term, is pivotal to my search. (NB: “Relevance” in the table below refers to ranking resources as they appear on Google’s First Page of ten results.)

Boolean search string Results Relevance Comments
Complex Search

(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry” (“neurodiversity” OR “neurodivergent” OR “Learning Difficulties” OR “autism” OR “autism spectrum disorders”)

338,00 no “scholarly articles”, however First page results comprise mainstream articles,  informal blogs and other anecdotal sources which may become useful depending on the results of different searches. No scholarly articles on the first page of a Google search when incorporating all of my tier one and tier two search terms is surprising.  I added another search string to this initial one:

AND

(education OR students OR teaching) and earned an extra 50,000 records but again no scholarly articles.

Interesting…

Simple Search

Inquiry learning” “Autism

 

 

Inquiry-based learning” “Autism

81,700

 

versus

 

136,000

 

2/10

Plus 3 scholarly articles via Google Scholar

Page one results are quite disheartening though – BUT Google Scholar results are there (I’m not sure why they didn’t come up in the first search)

Using “inquiry based learning” yields more results

 

Simple search

(“Inquiry learning” OR “Inquiry based learning“) “neurodivergent

9  0/9 My blog features as top two search results. This is not looking good.

Time to change the title of my blog?

From Search #1 I have some more search terms to add to my dendrogram which appeared as searches related to mine: “special education” and “special needs”.

Search #2

My second search is seeking high-level research and discussion on inquiry learning and the neuropsychological domains of neurodiversity by using search strings combined tier one and tier three terms and combining them in both simple and complex searches.

google-search-string-2

Figure 3: First and Third Tier search terms dendrogram. Image by site author CC by 2.0


Boolean search string Results Relevance Comments
Complex search

(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry”)

AND

(“Central Coherence” OR “Theory of Mind” OR “Executive Function”)

484,00 6/10

 

Published books and articles plus blogs laden with referenced articles.

This is starting to look very promising.

In addition, there is a mix between Inquiry Learning et al being both a challenge and a developmental process for developing these cognitive domains in students.

Complex search

(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry”)

AND

Central Coherence

547 7/10 A dramatic drop in numbers but search results rich in scholarly resources which tells me this is a bona fide research area. NB: Central Coherence refers to the ability to see “the big picture” or develop a “world view”

To add to search terms: social learning theory social cognitive theory

Complex search

 

 

 

 

(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry”)

AND

Theory of Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complex search

(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry”)

AND

Executive Function

362,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

162,000

 9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4/10

This is a gold mine – 9/10 resources on Google’s first page are published academic papers and there are references to more on Google Scholar. The volume of search results tells me ToM is a focus across the three neuropsychological domains of autism. It also tells me somewhat that ToM is an important aspect to Inquiry Learning, and probably helps develop it rather than exclude neurodivergent students from participating.

NB: adding AND autism to the search reduced results by about 50,000 which hints that research on Theory of Mind is focussed on  neurodiverse students more than at the general student population

 

I narrowed the search to Executive Function. Although only 4/10 scholarly resources appear on the first page, a number of articles referencing scholarly resources also appear and can be probed for further resources.

I find a  paragraph in a scholarly article that gives me a new search string theme: the role of internal and external scripts in Inquiry Learning.

 

 

Search #3

Reflecting on my fourth level search terms, I see I have created a deficit-based list. To be unbiased in my search I would have to also include strengths-based terms.  I will allow for this in future searches.

google-search-string-3
Figure 4: First and Fourth tier search terms. Image by site author CC by 2.0
Boolean search string                 Tier 1 Boolean search string                  Tier 4 Results Comments from first page results Pursue?
(“inquiry learning” OR “inquiry-based learning” OR “project-based learning” OR “enquiry learning” OR “open learning” OR “discovery learning” OR “Reggio-inspired learning” OR “guided inquiry”)

 

AND …

 

“lack of worldview” 0

removed “lack of”: 113,400

“Worldview” mostly associated with religion, not a neuropsychological quality No
“see the big picture” 119,000 Education-based resources rule here but no peer-reviewed articles Yes
“weak central coherence” 304 Very rich in resources here – IL as an aid to develop central coherence YES
“parts to whole” 7190 Good resources, noticed theme of using visual devices to link parts to whole in IL – handy YES
“focused on detail” 4 2/4 quality resources YES
“lack of context” 82,600 Need to refine these search terms: “inability to form context”? YES, with changes
“lack of Theory of Mind” 2

 

Stick with ToM and results from search#2 No
“mind blindness” OR “mindblindness 833 Linked to empathy YES
“false beliefs” 5190 Seems to be an issue in IL for ALL students, therefore interventions in place to remove false beliefs YES!
“lack of empathy” 22,200 Results include IL as agency for improving empathy YES
“planning” 576,000 Too broad. Stick to planning as a subset of Executive Function searches No
“perseverance” 386,000 I am getting results featuring the ‘hard work’ perseverance, not the psychological perseverance meaning “obsession with a topic” and linked to autism. Rethink search terms Yes, but with caveats
“time management” 211,000 Too broad. Again stick to executive function, or dysfunction. No
“organisation” 938,000 As above No
“task initiation” 1630 Articles by Kuhlthau – a positive sign! Yes
“goal setting” 206,000 Too broad. Again stick to executive function, or executive dysfunction. No
“transitioning” Omitted from search – too broad No
“impulsivity” 90,700 Result resrouces 3/10 point to obstacles in IL and problems with collaboration, engagement, involvement YES!
“integrating knowledge” 6 Results irrelevant to student involvement in IL No
“abstraction” 42,500 Too broad No
“inferring” 26 Some interesting high-level resources that may lead to scholarly articles Yes, with caveats.

Summary

A quick scan of resources from the Search #1 and #2 has hinted that Inquiry Learning and considerations for neurodiverse learners may fall into one of two camps: Inquiry Learning may exclude those who lack the cognitive thinking ability to participate fully in  he process, or, as discovered through searches with “executive function” it may help develop these cognitive domains under the right conditions.

It has not escaped me that this first blog post is onerously long.  However, I am dealing with complex issues that impact a growing percentage of the world’s student population and feel justified in giving my initial searches the time they deserved.  Google has given me a very good lay of the land and now I feel I can navigate my way through “the woods” using new search engines Google Scholar, A+ Education and ProQuest with some confidence  I’ve added some search terms to my search strings below that I will now use in my next search in Google Scholar.  Overall, I’ve been buoyed by the depth of scholarly or peer-reviewed articles that have surfaced.  Given the outcome of Search #1 I may have to rethink reliance on “neurodiversity” and “neurodivergent” students as valid search terms.

search-string-terms-horizontal-tree-after-google
Figure 5: Added and deleted search terms after Google search. Image by site author CC by 2.0

Join me as I now switch to Google Scholar as my navigation tool in my Inquiry Learning and Neurodivergent Learners.  If Google was a dim headlight to help my search, Google Scholar should be a spotlight on highbeam and hopefully illuminate my path a little better.

Adding knowledge from this first search tweaks my research questions a little:

  1. What are the advantages or disadvantages for Neurodiverse Learners and Inquiry Learning?
  2. How is Inquiry Learning intertwined with Executive Function, Theory of Mind, and Central Coherence and other cognitive domains?
  3. What specific classroom practices are enabling Inquiry Learning for Neurodiverse Learners?

Mapping the Journey

overall-il-journey-milestones-3
Figure 6: Inquiry Process and Information Search Process. Image by site author CC by 2.0

 

References:

Andreiuc88 (Photographer). (n.d.). Man Walking Through a Fairytale Forest [photograph], Retrieved August 20, 2016, from www.shutterstock.com

Audet, R. and L. Jordan (2008) Integrating inquiry across the curriculum. Heatherton, VIC: Hawker Brownlow. p. 14

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services, 2nd edition, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s