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NSED 150 (Sinha) 2024

Search Tips - Databases

1. Phrase Searching: Use " " quotation marks to search for a phrase.

  • e.g. ""educational sociology", "world views"

2. Pick Up Word Variants:  Use the asterisk * to look for variations on a word.

  • e.g. reflec* = reflect, reflects, reflecting etc.

3. Tell the Database How to Parse Your Search: Use Boolean operators.

  • Use AND to include all terms.   Join dissimilar terms e.g. "self reflection" AND pedagog*
  • Use OR to join similar terms e.g. "self reflection" OR metacognition; instruction OR teaching

4. Search in a Field: Choose where you want search terms to appear.

  • e.g. narrow to a Title field

5. Scan bibliographies: Use citations.

  • See "Finding a Known Article" tab, on this guide, for information on known item searching.

6. Proximity Search: Look for terms within a certain distance to over terms.  Available in databases on EBSCO or ProQuest platforms. 


ProQuest Platform (ERIC)

  • (reflective OR reflection) P/3 student  (within 3 words & in order)
  • "multi-disciplinary approach" N/3 teach* (near, any order)

EBSCO Platform (Education Source or ERIC)

  • "self reflection" W3 sociology (within 3 words & in order)
  • "self reflection" N2 bias (near, any order)

7. Use a Thesaurus: Find out the terminology (controlled vocabulary) assigned to citations.   Databases may not use the same subject headings.  You may be able to search a thesaurus or filter on subject terms via facets on a search results page.

  • e.g. SU Exposition (Rhetoric), Communication in Science, Interdisciplinary approach in education
UC Library Search (Catalog) Education Source ERIC
Teaching Teams Teaching Teams Team Teaching
College teaching

College teaching

College instruction
Space perception Spatial ability in children Spatial ability
Humanities -- Study and teaching (Higher) Humanities education Humanities instruction
  • EXPLODING a thesaurus term will add that term/phrase and any narrower terms.

Search Tips - Web

Some literature may not be indexed.

You may wish to search in a web engine like Google and limit to a domain such as .edu or .org.

Sample --> multidisciplinary teaching approach

Sample --> teaching anthropology "thick description"

Search Challenges

  1. Education journals don't just have information on teaching and learning.  They also include administrative topics, persistence and retention etc.
  2. When you add a narrow subject focus onto an education topic, this may (or may not) have been studied.
  3. You will have to determine if literature that refers to one age level (e.g. high school) is suitable when studying another level (e.g. college).
  4. Sometimes the concept you are looking for is used in other contexts.  This makes it hard to remove false hits.  For instance, you may be looking for "thick description" as a method to use with students but you retrieve many education articles that have used "thick description" as part of its own methodology.  The term history is not just used for history courses but the history of multiple topics.
  5. You may need time to discover the most effective keywords and terminology.  For instance, does dialogue mean discussion or "meaningful discussion" or "critical conversations"  or "classroom discourse".