Moreover, the instruction of technical Boolean logic is out of sync with the Framework and its less mechanical, more conceptual approach to IL.
Natural language searching has various definitions. For the purposes of this article, we define natural language as searching in phrases or sentences instead of a structured search query using operators and/or punctuation.
If using Boolean logic correctly is challenging for students, is poorly used, and has no clear advantage in using it to retrieve relevant results, why are we trying to teach it to first-year, introductory students?
This study sought to answer the question: Was there any advantage, based on the relevance of search results, to teaching Boolean to first-year students?
In studies of first-year students’ IL skills, demonstrated knowledge of Boolean logic is frequently evaluated as a determinant of information retrieval proficiency.
This has led to many librarians teaching Boolean logic in one-shot instruction sessions, first-year IL modules and tutorials, and reference interactions.
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Anecdotally, the authors have worked at multiple institutions and taught Boolean regularly, generally introducing the concept at the first-year (introductory) level, and building on that in upper-level classes.
Interestingly, while the ACRL Standards specifically mention Boolean, the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education only refers to searching (controlled vocabulary, keywords, natural language).