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Peer Review

Searching Using AND, OR, NOT (Boolean Searching)

by Michelle Mach


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 10, 2009 by Library and Information Services
Overview: This brief Flash tutorial teaches students the basics of using AND, OR, and NOT to combine terms when searching in library catalogs, databases or the Web.
Type of Material: Animated tutorial
Recommended Uses: Individual, as homework or in a class
Technical Requirements: Flash
Identify Major Learning Goals: The learner will learn what Boolean searching is. The learner will learn how and, or, and not can change a search. The learner will choose the appropriate Boolean operation to broaden or narrow a search.
Target Student Population: High School and College
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: none

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Concepts are introduced progressively. The format works: having a concept first introduced by using little animals and then transferring knowledge into practice by demonstrating the same concept on a screen shot of a database search. The text is well written – clear and to the point. The animated animals are engaging and interesting without being coy or cutesy. The teaching is student-centered by: 1) Not making assumptions on what learners do or do not know. 2) Having consideration for learners’ level of interest by providing information in a clear and entertaining manner. 3) Allowing learners control over the learning environment through non-linear navigational buttons.
Concerns: none

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This tutorial provides basic and intermediate lessons in set theory and is geared toward visual learners with clear, explanatory text and engaging, amusing animated characters that demonstrate various Boolean combinations and database search scenarios.
Concerns: The tutorial would gain by a companion tutorial reviewing keyword searching.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: EXCELLENT introductory page: It orients students to the learning objectives (which are explicitly stated); explains how long the tutorial will take; describes technical requirements, offering a link to free Flash download; and directs students to further reading – a text page on Boolean operation. This text page is a good choice for students who are not visual learners. Clearly, the author was thinking of his audiences’ ease and comfort when creating this introductory page. As for the animation: Navigation is clear, non-linear and is learner-driven. It is very easy to move about the different sections, review a section, or go back to the main menu. the tutorials are FUN and engaging.
Concerns: none

Other Issues and Comments: A dead link needs to be fixed