Extending the Role of the Library and Librarian: Integrating Alternative Information Literacy into the Engineering Curriculum
Rowley, Erin M.
Moore, Kristen R.
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Both in coursework and in their future careers, engineering students may work with many different types of information sources beyond books and journal articles, including patents, standards, and technical reports. Despite this shift, which broadens information literacy, many undergraduate communication courses continue to narrowly define information sources, prompting students to use bibliographic databases but completely omitting other important databases that can provide students with meaningful and applicable information sources. The aim of this study was to make library resource instruction an integral portion of a required undergraduate engineering communication class to determine if this targeted instruction improved students' understanding of alternative information sources. Specifically, this study integrated standards and the ASTM Standard database into the course through 1) case study assignments, 2) targeted instruction by the engineering librarian, and 3) the integration of standards as information and research sources into both. The authors presented students in select class sections with a case study lesson dependent on standards. Students were then visited by the Engineering Librarian on two occasions; both sessions were tied directly to the assignment based on the case study. To evaluate student understanding of standards, pre and post-tests were distributed to students in all sections of the course, including the intervention sections, which received standards training, and control sections, which did not. Students in the selected class sections were also asked to complete evaluation surveys after the first librarian in-class visit. In addition, the authors obtained permission to review student assignments related to the standards case study. While the study produced a considerable amount of data to analyze, this paper first explores how the authors’ approach lays the foundation for rethinking librarian integration in engineering communication courses.