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Extending the Role of the Library and Librarian: Integrating Alternative Information Literacy into the Engineering Curriculum

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Assessing, Expanding, and Innovating Information Literacy

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Erin Rowley University at Buffalo

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Erin Rowley is the Head of Science and Engineering Library Services at the University at Buffalo and serves as the Engineering Librarian. Before coming to UB, Erin was the head of a research team at a consumer products testing laboratory specializing in international standards and regulatory research. At UB she assists faculty, students, and staff with library resource instruction and engineering-related research including standards, technical reports, and patents. Erin's research interests include the role of librarians in engineering education, entrepreneurship, and the role of technical industry standards in academic libraries. She holds the Master of Library Science from the University at Buffalo and a B.A. degree in Communication from SUNY Geneseo.

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Lauren Kuryloski University at Buffalo

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Lauren Kuryloski is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Engineering Education Department, where she teaches technical communication at the undergraduate and graduate level.

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Kristen Moore University at Buffalo

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Kristen R. Moore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at University at Buffalo. Her research focuses primarily on technical communication and issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice. She is the author of Technical Communication After the Social Justice Turn: Building Coalitions for Action (2019), in addition to a range of articles. She has received a number of awards for her research, including the Joenk Award for the best article in IEEE Transactions in Professional Communication, the Nell Ann Pickett Award for best article in Technical Communication Quarterly, and the NCTE Best Article in Theories of Technical Communication (in both 2015 and 2018). She is also the co-founder of Women in Technical Communication, a mentoring organization that received the 2015 Diana Award from ACM Special Interest Group in the Design of Communication.

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Both in coursework and in their future careers, engineering students may work with many different types of information sources beyond books and journal articles, including patents, standards, and technical reports [1]. Despite this shift, which broadens information literacy [2], many undergraduate communication courses continue to narrowly define information sources, prompting students to use bibliographic databases but completely omitting other important databases that can provide students with meaningful and applicable information sources.

The aim of this study was to make library resource instruction an integral portion of a required undergraduate engineering communication class to determine if this targeted instruction improved students' understanding of alternative information sources. Specifically, this study integrated standards and the ASTM Standard database into the course through 1) case study assignments, 2) targeted instruction by the engineering librarian, and 3) the integration of standards as information and research sources into both.

The authors presented students in select class sections with a case study lesson dependent on standards. Students were then visited by the Engineering Librarian on two occasions; both sessions were tied directly to the assignment based on the case study. To evaluate student understanding of standards, pre and post-tests were distributed to students in all sections of the course, including the intervention sections, which received standards training, and control sections, which did not. Students in the selected class sections were also asked to complete evaluation surveys after the first librarian in-class visit. In addition, the authors obtained permission to review student assignments related to the standards case study. While the study produced a considerable amount of data to analyze, this paper first explores how the authors’ approach lays the foundation for rethinking librarian integration in engineering communication courses.

References: G.J. Leckie & A. Fullerton, “Information literacy in science and engineering undergraduate education: faculty attitudes and pedagogical practices,” College & Research Libraries, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 9-29, 1999. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 11, 2019].

S. Shanbhag, "Alternative models of knowledge production: a step forward in information literacy as a liberal art," Library Philosophy and Practice, vol. 8, no. 2, 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed Oct. 11, 2019].

Rowley, E., & Kuryloski, L., & Moore, K. (2020, June), Extending the Role of the Library and Librarian: Integrating Alternative Information Literacy into the Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34656

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