I am not a Google-Fu Master.
February 28, 2011 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I need to find published articles about a certain educational topic and am coming up empty-handed. Please help me craft some more productive search strings.

I'm looking for articles that touch on the challenges teachers face in being able to collect real-time, ethnographic-style, observational data while engaged in teaching full time.

Background: For my master's thesis I'm examining how my second-grade students express what they know about mathematics in alternative/non-traditional ways, i.e., not via worksheets or tests but when telling stories to their friends, or creating rules on the playground, or during side conversations in subjects unrelated to math. I believe the primary way for me to truly understand all the ways in which my students reveal what they know is via direct observation. And, while I may periodically "catch" one of my students in a moment when they are expressing an understanding of math concepts in an unexpected way, it's on a very limited and unpredictable basis, given the constraints of managing a classroom of 30-some students. So basically I am looking for articles that discuss the practical challenges teacher-researchers face in trying to collect not only significant quantities but a variety of real-time observational data. I've tried a whole slew of search strings all to no avail. Basically, I suck at searching and am hoping some of you google-fu masters have some suggestions for me!

Thank you, and please let me know if the above info isn't sufficient to help you answer my question -- it seems really rambling and incoherent to me, sorry.
posted by hapax_legomenon to Education (14 answers total)
I wouldn't look for articles that are so specific, rather I would try to find any article that used real-time observational data with children as a method, across a very wide range of topics, and see what they said about the challenges. Papers that are only and specifically about why a method is hard will be few and far between, but the more you can find that use that method the better off you may be (plus, they might have references that you are not doing a good job of finding).
posted by brainmouse at 4:23 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are there any qualitative research books or journals in education? Those would be the best places to start.
Also, are these results something like what you're looking for?
posted by prenominal at 4:30 PM on February 28, 2011


Descriptors can help, also. This should be very useful.
posted by jgirl at 4:45 PM on February 28, 2011

I know you're asking for search strings, but I would suggest adding a little brick-and-mortar. Sometimes, I've found that even the best independent Google search can't beat going to your local on-campus library (you're at or near a college/university, right?) and asking a librarian for extra help exploring some educational databases.
posted by tamagogirl at 4:58 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have you talked to a librarian at your school? Might give it a shot.

This search:
(DE=("Naturalistic observation") and (math* or DE=("mathematics instruction")))
is giving me seemingly okay results in ERIC, but I'm certainly no education librarian :)
posted by unknowncommand at 5:15 PM on February 28, 2011

The reason Google-fu is failing you is because what you're probably looking for is only available in proprietary (as in, hella expensive) databases that aren't indexed by Google. If you're working on your master's thesis you're affiliated with a university, right? I guarantee you that your College of Ed. has a librarian who will be able to help you make a serious dent in this.
posted by stellaluna at 5:15 PM on February 28, 2011

Google Scholar can be useful. Nthing communicate with your university's reference librarian- in person, by phone, by email, by chat. In addition to ERIC you might want to check anthropology databases.
posted by mareli at 5:21 PM on February 28, 2011

First, the scolding: as a grad student, you should be comfortable using your library's reference desk and subject librarians. Undoubtedly there is a librarian at your university wondering why the ed grad students never ask him/her for research help.

Next, try this in Google Scholar: teacher as researcher
That quickly led me to the phrase "action research." I don't know what that is, but I would take both search terms into ERIC.

Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 7:32 PM on February 28, 2011

Thanks for all the suggestions. I should have mentioned in my question that I have consulted with my college librarian (my library is staffed with primarily undergrad students which have shown themselves to be less than adept than I at finding source material) and I am VERY familiar with ERIC (a database specific to Education topics).

That quickly led me to the phrase "action research." I don't know what that is, but I would take both search terms into ERIC.

Thank you, I'm familiar with the action research methodology and it is a very different kind of study than the one I've engaged in. For those who are curious, Action Research is a focuses on a specific, localized problem ("Are my particular group of 30 students in this specific classroom more/less excited to write when they are given an open-ended prompt?) and then trying out possible solutions and reflecting/spiraling on one's findings.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:47 PM on February 28, 2011

I'm glad to know you've talked to the librarian. Was "teacher as researcher" at all helpful? I see you saying what didn't work, but did any of this work?
posted by bluedaisy at 8:04 PM on February 28, 2011

(Oh, also, your title with "Google fu" threw me off--suggested you were trying to do all this in Google only.)
posted by bluedaisy at 8:05 PM on February 28, 2011

Potentially relevant naturalistic observation results from Google Scholar.

"Everyday mathematics" appears to be another term you could try.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:57 PM on February 28, 2011

posted by Jagz-Mario at 10:35 AM on March 1, 2011

Thanks, everyone! I haven't had a chance to try out these terms yet but I really appreciate your suggestions. I'll report back!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:43 AM on March 1, 2011

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