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Embedded Assessment of Library Learning Outcomes in a Freshman Engineering Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Information Literacy Programs for First-Year Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.554.1 - 22.554.17



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Paper Authors


Melissa Bowles-Terry University of Wyoming

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Melissa is the Instruction and Assessment Coordinator in the Reference and Instruction Services Department at University of Wyoming Libraries.

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Larry Schmidt University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Larry Schmidt is the Physical and Applied Sciences Librarian at the University of Wyoming Libraries.

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Embedded Assessment of Library Learning Outcomes in a Freshman Engineering CourseAbstract:When students come to the library for an instruction session, we know that theyhave varied levels of experience with academic research and library tools. Buthow much can we assume? The background knowledge check is one of theClassroom Assessment Techniques from Angelo and Cross (1993) that librariansat our institution have adopted for library instruction. In this paper, we willdiscuss the usefulness of a background knowledge check embedded in aengineering class, share results from one particular freshman-level course, andaddress best practices for embedded and relevant follow-up assessment.Through our partnership with engineering faculty we have created an embeddedbackground knowledge check in a course for incoming freshman engineeringstudents to assess what students know before they come to the library for aninstruction session focused on finding articles on a specific engineering topic.With a simple web form we find out which library databases students have usedbefore, how confident they are with academic research, their working definitionof scholarly resources, and what search concepts they have heard of before.With this information in hand, we have a better idea of what we should focus onin the library session. Having the results of the background knowledge check alsoprovides us with a jumping-off point for questions to actively engage students inthe classroom.For students in the freshman engineering class we have three learning outcomesfor the library session: 1. Distinguish between general and specialized databases in order to select the most appropriate database and maximize relevancy of search results. 2. Develop topic-related vocabulary in order to search databases with maximum flexibility and effectiveness. 3. Describe the difference between a peer-reviewed article and a popular article in order to select appropriate resources for use in an academic research project.Before students come to the library we assess their previous experience andknowledge about academic research. While in the library, students complete aworksheet that guides them through developing keywords, searching the web,revising keywords, and searching library databases for information to answer theirresearch questions. The worksheet allows us to assess students’ ability to developtopic-related vocabulary. We encourage students to ask evaluative questions asthey find sources to determine if their results are peer reviewed or not. After thelibrary session students complete a library tutorial and quiz on their own. They arethen required to write a research paper and participate in an engineering challengethat often involves researching a specific engineering problem for which theyhave to create a working model.At the end of the term we send out another knowledge check to the students. Using the combination of pre- and post-knowledge checks, the worksheetcompleted in class, and the library tutorial completed outside of class allows us tomeasure student learning outcomes and plan for adjustments to future engineeringlibrary instruction.

Bowles-Terry, M., & Schmidt, L. (2011, June), Embedded Assessment of Library Learning Outcomes in a Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17835

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