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EDUG 220

Growth and Development PK-12

Step Two: Creating a Search String

Now that you have a list of keywords, it's time to put them together using search operators. Think of this step like building a math equation that a search engine or database will understand.

Let's take a look at an example with some relevant key words for looking at trauma and development. All of the keywords were located using step one in the ERIC thesaurus.

Key concept #1: Trauma
Possible Keywords: trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress variables, mental health

Key concept #2: Development
Possible Keywords: Child development, adolescent development, individual development, developmental stages, developmental delays, developmental tasks

Key concept #3: Learning
Possible Keywords: learning, student outcomes, academic achievement, learning problems, learning processes

Boolean Searching

To find relevant information, we need to put together our keywords into a search stringincluding at least one word for each key concept. We do this using what's called Boolean searching. Boolean searching using AND, OR, and NOT* to create a search string that almost all databases or search engines can easily understand.

Diagram of a boolean AND searchDiagram of a Boolean OR search










A boolean search using AND tells the search engine to only look for articles with both words. A boolean search using OR tells the search engine to find articles with any or all of the keywords.

Example: The simplest Boolean search strings just use AND, like this example using our keywords from above:

trauma AND child development AND learning

*NOT is not commonly used, so no need to worry about it for now.

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