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Engineering Information for Non-engineers: A Case Study in Interdisciplinary Application of the ACRL Framework

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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 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Chelsea Leachman Washington State University

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Chelsea Leachman is the engineering librarian at Washington State University. She obtained here Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2011. She has a background in science and engineering. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a minor in geology from the University of Idaho 2007.

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As Washington State University becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, the need is increasing for collaboration between librarians and instructors to introduce non-engineering students to technical literature. Understanding technical literature is challenging even for the very engineers who are versed in the vocabulary and procedures of their discipline. Hence, training non-engineer students to use this literature is a substantial challenge. Over the course of several years, the ACRL framework for information literacy in higher education has been integrated into the engineering curriculum. Over this time several core lessons have emerged: 1) understanding the role and significance of publication authority, 2) appropriate contextual use of the information, and 3) embracing the iterative nature of research. Transferring these lessons to non-engineering courses has been successful when working with an honors English course and an interdisciplinary Capstone Design course. Non-engineering students in these classes received basic information literacy training during the first year of coursework with potential for review in a non-engineering upper division discipline-specific course. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle was applied to the in-class instruction to appeal to multiple learning styles. Traditional information literacy instruction focuses heavily on the use of books, peer-reviewed articles, and newspapers while engineers typically rely on sources including patents, standards, and reports. Key findings include an essential focus on the different types of technical literature, authority, and discoverability when teaching technical information to non-engineering students. Using the ACRL framework as a guiding document for information enabled the incorporation of technical literature into the in-class assignments for non-engineers.

Leachman, C. (2018, June), Engineering Information for Non-engineers: A Case Study in Interdisciplinary Application of the ACRL Framework Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30413

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