Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Information Literacy Programs for First Year Engineering Students

Lifelong Learning and Information Literacy Skills and the First Year Engineering Undergraduate: Report of a Self-assessment – Meagan C. Ross with Michael Fosmire, Ruth Wertz, M.E. Cardella, and S. Purzer

Meagan C. Ross, discussed first year IL and assessment projects at Purdue University. This particular project was funded by an Engineer 2020 grant.  Ross, et al found engineering students self-reported lack of gains in “lifelong learning.” ABET Outcome 3i Lifelong Learning and information literacy are connected. Librarians found they had a hard time teaching IL skills as well as a difficult time assessing these skills. Looking to develop an easy to administer test for librarians and engineering faculty to use. Guglielmino developed a self-directed learning readiness scale (SDLRS), a SDLRS for Nursing education, as well as Shinichi, et al who created a more generic 13 question instrument.

Purdue wished to develop an instrument that would be more focused on engineering. They also desired to bring in Kuhlthau (2004) Information Search Process (ISP). First year students who took their information skills assessment reported being good at task definition, citation, reflection/self-assessment. The weakest areas included exploration of alternative sources, ability to locate information effectively, and these correlate with Kuhlthau’s ISP.

Junior level data shows they are more humble than the first year students. Instructors created an authentic “memo” assignment where they found one weak area for the juniors was citing sources.

They are looking for partners, they have designed three instruments and will be further developing them. They are looking for partners, so feel free to contact them. See also other presentations by this team at ASEE.

Future work, continue developing instrument (circumvent ‘novice effect’)
Librarians should address beginning part of ISP

Embedded Assessment of Library Learning Outcomes in a Freshman Engineering Course 
Larry Schmidt and Melissa Bowles-Terry from University of Wyoming described their experience with IL inclusion within their engineering first year courses. Students are required to perform research on an assigned topic such as autonomous robots then work on a related engineering challenge. Librarians have one-short session and they now have electronic classroom. Short in-class assignments, but they did not know what students were coming away with. They narrowed down to 3 learning outcomes: identifying appropriate research databases, using appropriate vocabulary/keyword choices, and differentiating source types. Started with pre-test (online form), developed worksheet and rubric to assess student keyword choices, and a post-test (online form) to assess databases choices and defining scholarly sources.

Using a constructivist learning approach, they start where the students are by teaching Google then move to Wonderwheel and Scholar, then to an engineering database. Showing search process from general to more specific, and how to modifying search terms.

On the pre-test, almost half of 192 responses had not ever used a database and half were familiar with Academic Search, but this is offered in the Wyoming schools/libraries. For learning outcome 1 (databases) librarians categorized into beginning, developing, exemplary based on the students’ reasons for choosing a specific database. For keywords, librarians created a small rubric, based on quantity of keywords (will be moving to quality in the future, this rubric will be revised). They found most of the students with beginning proficiency in keyword selection were non-native speakers. For learning outcome 3 (source differentiation) students were asked to identify characteristics of a scholarly article, they found the students did not do well.  Self-reported confidence levels increased during the 1-hr session. Future idea: taking research paper samples and matching with student confidence levels. They would also like to give a presentation to the engineering faculty with these findings.

The Research Studio: Integrating Information Literacy Into a First Year Engineering Science Course 
C. Michelle Baratta, Alan Chong and Jason A. Foster

At University of Toronto, two engineering design instructors worked with Baratta, a librarian to develop new active learning method of incorporating IL skills, which they call a “research studio.”

Students have three major design projects within this course. One project has a research assignment with real focus, to design pedestrian bridge to cross a ravine in Toronto. Students need to incorporate technical load/structural engineering concepts and go beyond and think about issues of usability and sustainability. This assignment involves site visits as well as secondary research. Instructors wanted to introduce students to reference handbooks, building codes so they brought in the librarian to assist.

LOGISTICS: Three hundred students visited the library over 3 days, one hundred at a time. They were required to visit up to six stations per team (minimum of 3 spending 30 minutes at each stop). Part of the goal is to foster mutual interdependence, not all teams visited the same stations. Instructors developed a 28 page handout.

STATION EXAMPLE: Evaluating Information
Students were asked to view and evaluate websites about specific bridges. Reflections questions such as “would they use these web sites in their daily lives,” or “would they use this site for an academic research project.”

At the Search Strategies stop students constructed searches and learned about/constructed Boolean searches. For non-traditional sources, students wandered the library to find examples of non-traditional sources.

Instructors found students are now providing longer reference lists, more credible sources, but they feel that the students still do not strategize (but this is a program level issue). Question about how the students are using the references, but have not had opportunity to do this yet.

In the future they will be adding codes/standards, trying to slow students down, reducing structure/overload (like their 28-page handout), and they plan to “gamify” this activity. Students did not like the mutual interdependence, they wanted to know the information themselves. Progressive disclosure based on attainment of skill, moving from using a screwdriver to a Dremel tool.
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