College & Research Libraries
Boolean logic can be a difficult concept for first-year, introductory students to grasp. This paper compares the results of Boolean and natural language searching across several databases with searches created from student research questions. Performance differences between databases varied. Overall, natural search language is at least as good as Boolean searching. With evidence that students struggle to grasp Boolean searching, and may not use it even after instruction, it could be left out of first-year instruction, freeing up valuable class time to focus on concepts such as question development and source evaluation. As the Framework for Information Literacy does not specifically address Boolean operators, the authors suggest it should have less prominence in first-year Information Literacy instruction.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Lowe, M. Sara; Maxson, Bronwen K.; Stone, Sean M.; Miller, Willie; Snajdr, Eric; and Hanna, Kathleen, "The Boolean Is Dead, Long Live the Boolean! Natural Language versus Boolean Searching in Introductory Undergraduate Instruction" (2018). University Libraries Faculty & Staff Contributions. 113.