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Engineering an Information Literacy Program for First-year Engineering Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD IV: Innovative Curriculum Elements of Successful First-year Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.534.1 - 25.534.12



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Paper Authors


Robin A.M. Hensel Ed.D. West Virginia University

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Robin Hensel is the Assistant Dean for Freshman Experience in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. She holds a B.S. in mathematics from Wheaton College IL, an M.A. in mathematics from SUNY at Buffalo, and an Ed.D. from West Virginia University. Before WVU, Hensel worked for the U.S. Department of Energy as a Mathematician and Computer Systems Analyst, and as an Associate Professor and Department Chair at Salem International University. Her research interests include STEM education at all levels, first-year experience and issues related to the transition from high school to college, and the retention and recruitment of women and minorities to STEM fields.

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Ordel Brown Ph.D. West Virginia University

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Ordel Brown, Ph.D., is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. She currently teaches first-year courses in the Freshman Engineering program, and her research interests include the identification of variables that impact the recruitment, the first-year experience and retention of underrepresented populations in STEM fields, and the development of strategies to increase their persistence.

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Mary L. Strife West Virginia University

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Mary Strife has been at West Virginia University since 1995, serving as the Director of the Evansdale Library and an Engineering Librarian since 2001. She has almost 30 years experience in the library and information profession in science/engineering and public/access services positions at Cornell, University of Rochester, and SUNY, Utica/Rome. She has been in ALA/ACRL for 30 years, SLA for 25 years, and ASEE/ELD for almost seven years.

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Engineering an Information Literacy Program for First Year Engineering StudentsTechnical writing is an essential skill for all developing and practicing engineers. The 21stcentury information environment requires engineering graduates to be able to find neededinformation in appropriate, credible places; to credit the work properly; and to communicate theresults effectively. In particular, learning to complete a literature search is a significant part offinding and understanding journal articles and technical papers.ENGR 101, the first engineering problem solving course that freshmen take at a large land-grantuniversity in the mid-Atlantic region, requires students to write at least two technical reports.Students, typically, have difficulty with the following: (1) understanding the parts of a technicalreport; (2) defining and avoiding plagiarism; (3) evaluating their online sources; and (4) findingappropriate sources from which to perform a literature search for background information ontheir assigned topic.To address these issues, engineering faculty collaborated with campus librarians to: (1) writenew information literacy learning objectives for ENGR 101 that address the issues listed above,(2) create specific instructional modules, including in-class activities combined with shortlectures, online assessments, and homework/reinforcement activities, and (3) construct a gradingrubric for technical reports that include information literacy issues as part of the grading criteriafor technical reports. This work was funded by a campus Information Literacy CourseEnhancement grant sponsored by the university libraries and the Office of the Provost.Three content modules, which used the computer-lab classroom and course support technology,were taught by the Information Literacy experts (the Librarians) to more than 700 students in 18sections of the ENGR 101 class. The nine (9) primary engineering course instructorsimplemented the grading rubric in all technical reports required in ENGR 101.This paper presents the learning objectives and grading rubrics and describes the contentmodules developed through this project. The results of the assessment of student learning and ofthe development process are presented as well. Recommendations are made for additionalmodifications to more effectively prepare students to search and use information correctly andappropriately, giving them skills needed to succeed as a student and as an engineeringprofessional.

Hensel, R. A., & Brown, O., & Strife, M. L. (2012, June), Engineering an Information Literacy Program for First-year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21292

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