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Effective Methods of Engineering Information Literacy: Initial Steps of a Systematic Literature Review and Observations About the Literature

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Libraries Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Margaret Phillips Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Margaret Phillips is an Assistant Professor of Library Science and Engineering Information Specialist in the Purdue University Libraries. Her research interests include technical standards and engineering and technology information literacy.

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Amy S. Van Epps Harvard University Orcid 16x16

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Amy S. Van Epps is Director of Sciences and Engineering Services in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Libraries at Harvard University. She was recently an associate professor of Library Science and Engineering Librarian at Purdue University. She has extensive experience providing instruction for engineering and technology students, including Purdue’s first-year engineering program. Her research interests include finding effective methods for integrating information literacy knowledge into the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Ms. Van Epps has a BA in engineering science from Lafayette College, her MSLS from Catholic University of America, a M.Eng. in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is currently working on her PhD in Engineering Education at Purdue.

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Nastasha E. Johnson Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Nastasha Johnson is the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Information Specialist for Purdue Libraries and Assistant Professor of Library Science. Her research areas include STEM information literacy, cultural competence and assessment.

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David A. Zwicky Purdue University, West Lafayette

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David Zwicky is currently an Assistant Professor of Library Science and Chemical Information Specialist at Purdue University. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, an M.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.A. in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Background – There is a body of information literacy (IL) literature applied to undergraduate engineering students, much of which discusses different methods for teaching, such as classes/one-shots, online tutorials, gaming, and other interventions. It is important for librarians to know which methods of teaching engineering information literacy (EIL) are most effective for student learning, in order to make efficient and effective use of student and librarian time.

Purpose/Hypothesis – The authors reviewed the existing literature to find indications of the most effective methods for teaching and/or integrating EIL, both in face-to-face and online instruction.

Design/Method – The authors have completed the first stages of a systematic literature review (SLR), through the creation of the final dataset. The initial searches generated a set of 1224 papers prior to duplicate removal. Duplicate removal and multiple rounds of review, using authors-created inclusion and exclusion criteria, narrowed the final dataset to 13 papers.

Scope/Method – The lessons learned in the process around searching, tools for data evaluation, and articulation of criteria are presented. As a result of this portion of the SLR process, the authors identified characteristics of the undergraduate-focused EIL literature that are shared.

Results/Discussion – A brief summary of the process to arrive at a final dataset of 13 papers, the challenges in the process, and the refinements made at each step are outlined.

Conclusion – There are several preliminary conclusions to be drawn, many of which will not be surprising to the engineering librarian community. The dataset came down to just 13 items because much of the EIL literature is based on student self-report data on how the class went, or was it enjoyable, rather than on actual student learning gains. As such, these papers did not meet the criteria for demonstrated learning gains as a measure of effectiveness. In addition, some papers were excluded for lack of clarity about methods. In these studies it is not evident how either the intervention and/or the assessment was conducted, with regard to timing, instrument used, etc. Some additional papers were excluded because a control or comparison group was not included to establish “effectiveness” of the intervention. Overall, the authors note the EIL literature frequently reports descriptive statistics, showing that data has been gathered, but sometimes falls short of a full analysis that allows the researchers to draw meaningful/well grounded conclusions from the data.

Phillips, M., & Van Epps, A. S., & Johnson, N. E., & Zwicky, D. A. (2018, June), Effective Methods of Engineering Information Literacy: Initial Steps of a Systematic Literature Review and Observations About the Literature Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30356

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