Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to the Real World: Showing the Value of Information Literacy Beyond the Classroom 
John B. Napp, University of Toledo started his career as a librarian at an engineering firm. When he started as an academic librarian, surveyed engineering firms to find out how many have librarians (very few). His goal is to make sure the engineering students are capable of finding the information they need when they start their engineering careers, since they may not have librarians to assist them.


Napp decided a problem-based learning would be a useful approach to build in ACRL IL & ABET outcomes. Working with engineering faculty and students, they devised a team-based PBL assignment. He surveyed students on their use of information types as well as perceptions. 41% felt they would still be able to find everything they need on Google. Check out the paper for more findings.

What Information Sources Do Engineering Students Use to Address Authentic Socio-technical Problems?
Eugene Barsky, Annette Berndt, Aleteia Greenwood, and Carla S. Paterson from University of British Columbia discussed their work with an applied science course, Technology and Development, The Global Engineer. Instructors work with a local community partner, a social entrepreneur Charlotte Kwon ( who works with global artisans. The students focus on authentic problems of rural artisans in India. One example is the potential use of solar energy to power sewing machines. Students are required to produce a formal report proposing technological and socially appropriate solutions. The problems are ill-defined and students have to move into areas they are unfamiliar with. 
One of the course outcomes is to get students "to develop a tolerance for ambiguity." 

Librarians worked with these students to teach them research skills. To assess they conducted 3 student surveys, a pre, post and one after the formal reports were complete. Librarians and faculty also reviewed the reference list of the reports. In the pre-survey they found that 90% of students plan to use library resources, 70% mentioned library books, and 40% mentioned library journals and databases. After completing the project 55% of students reported using library resources, 15% books, and 50% library databases and journals.

People are an important source of information for engineers. Some students reported talking with academic experts, a few to librarians, and they expressed a desire to have more contact/communication with the project sponsor/contact in India.  

Their post-survey and paper review confirmed high use of non-academic sources. Overall only 20% of sources were academic sources. Due to lack of clarity and vagueness of project, one student commented that internet search engines are a good place to start. 75% of students reported that presentations by librarians were useful to them. 60% of students reported subsequently using advanced search commands presented by librarians.

Authentic problems as “high engagement, high impact” (Kuh, 2009) activities lead to co-creation of new knowledgebases.

Gauging Workplace Readiness: Information Behavior and Preparedness of Engineering Students in Cooperative Education Programs
Jon N. Jeffryes, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, collaborating with another librarian surveyed co-op students to find out what types of information they are using “on the job.” Out of 42 co-op students, 36 responded. Almost all were mechanical engineering students, most junior/senior level.

Not surprisingly, the librarians found that everyone had to find information on the job. Three areas the data will guide:

1. Portfolio program: six skills students need for their careers, many gleaned from their literature review, putting together this program and used survey findings to help make the case for this initiative.

2. Teamwork workshop: piloted 90-minute workshop already, drop in workshop, not required. Sent to faculty and some strongly requested that one student from each team attend. Focus on team skills and library tools that can assist with teamwork, recent physical space improvements aid with this effort, many active learning/collaborative learning labs. Discussions are now underway on how to incorporate into the curriculum.

3. Information literacy integration: survey data will help and provide examples to engage students within large lecture format IL session for engineering students.

It's a Wrap: a Real-life Engineering Case Study as the Focus of an Online Library Tutorial
Patsy D. Hulse at University of Auckland working with subject librarians D. Dantang Han, E.I. Melnichenko, and S. Brookes developed an online tutorial that incorporates a real-life engineering case study. The idea for this was to fill a research education gap within the engineering students third year. This class has 550 students so an online tutorial was the best approach for an already overstretched staff. They needed to create this within 4 months. Six modules cover how to find the information the students need. Module 4: Time to do testing, is the finding standards part of the tutorial, is one example where they create a scenario that outlines the information need and provide information on how to use databases for finding standards. They created a bank of around 80 assessment questions, and there is a test is worth 3% of the final grade.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the online tutorial they used direct observation, a feedback form, test results, paper evaluation during lectures to get higher response rate (also offered a raffle prize). Found 24% of students learned about patents for the first time. They made changes after student feedback, such as adding video times/sizes, improving navigation and fonts.  Side benefit: 
Librarians were able to use some of the videos within other courses at the graduate level. 

Aside: UofA’s Engineering Library has a neat creativity center, with building materials and a large engineering firm sponsors a model building competition.  
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