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Engineering + Information Literacy = One Grand Design

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

ELD Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.534.1 - 10.534.6

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Paper Authors

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Barbara MacAlpine

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering + Information Literacy = One Grand Design

Barbara MacAlpine Trinity University, San Antonio, TX


Undergraduate engineering students in small institutions, like their colleagues in larger universities, need to be information literate, yet this is a skill that is not necessarily built into their curriculum. This paper will discuss a program that has been developed at Trinity University to address first year engineering students in their initial design course. It will cover the transition from largely lecture/demonstration-based instruction to a presentation that includes active learning components. An emphasis on the importance of written communication skills for engineers is a part of this program that has been enthusiastically endorsed by the engineering faculty.


Recent literature reiterates the importance of information literacy for engineering students and the role of librarians in promoting that process 1,2. The challenge is to develop a program that delivers the instruction when the students need it, and in a manner that catches their attention, allows them to practice new skills, and appeals to a variety of learning styles. The use of lectures as the primary instructional vehicle has become increasingly devalued, as reflected in student evaluations of bibliographic instruction as well as studies by learning theorists 3,4. Successful combinations of lecture/demonstrations with a variety of active learning techniques have been reported 3,5.


Trinity University is a small (c2500 student FTE), private, liberal arts institution that is almost entirely made up of undergraduates. Unlike many schools with a similar description, it also includes a Department of Engineering Science, whose mission is to “provide students with a broad-based undergraduate engineering education by offering a design-oriented, multi- disciplinary engineering science curriculum in the context of the University’s traditions of the liberal arts and sciences.”6 The key phrase is “design-oriented”, which translates into participation in engineering design projects throughout the eight-semester design course sequence. Thus it is highly advantageous to reach students in their first semester to give them the fundamentals of locating and evaluating information from the design literature.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

MacAlpine, B. (2005, June), Engineering + Information Literacy = One Grand Design Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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