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First-Year and Junior Engineering Students’ Self-Assessment of Information Literacy Skills

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Student-Centered Information Literacy

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.607.1 - 24.607.10



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Paper Authors


Kerrie A Douglas Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Anna Douglas is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Purdue University's Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning. She received her B.A. in Psychology, M.S. Ed. in School Counseling, and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis on Research Methods and Measurement from Purdue University. Her research focuses on assessment and evaluation in engineering education.

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Ruth E. H. Wertz Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16


Michael Fosmire Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Michael Fosmire is Professor of Library Science and Head, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Technology Division of the Purdue University Libraries.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Şenay Purzer an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. In 2011, she received a NSF CAREER award, which examines how engineering students approach innovation. She is also a NAE/CASEE New Faculty Fellow. Purzer conducts research on aspects of design education such as innovation and information literacy.

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Amy S. Van Epps Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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First Year and Junior Engineering Students’ Self-Assessment of Information Literacy SkillsAccording to ABET accreditation outcomes, engineering students should be able to recognizetheir need for lifelong learning (ABET Outcome 3.1). One way to determine whetherengineering students recognize this need is through self-assessment of information literacy skills.Self-assessments are frequently used to assess students’ perceptions about their behavior. Inparticular, there is a need to understand students’ perceptions of information literacy. Whilestudent perceptions of behavior can be somewhat different than actual behavior, self-assessmentsare important to understanding the difference between students’ perceived need for informationalliteracy and their actual need. These differences highlight areas where interventions are neededto bring students’ perceptions of behavior more closely in line with their actual informationskills. There is a need for research that examines students’ self-assessment of their informationliteracy skills and comparison with findings from actual behavior.Previous research has found that first year engineering students and seniors differ in their abilityto problem scope and gather information (Atman et al., 2007). To determine whether thisbehavioral difference is perceived, first year (n= 158) and junior engineering students (n=154)were given the Self-Assessment of Problem Solving Strategies (SAPPS) (Ross, et al, 2011). Thiswas designed to measure students reported behaviors in the areas of (1) task definition andclarification, (2) creating a plan of action, (3) exploration of alternative solutions, (4) preliminaryinformation gathering, (5) ability to locate information efficiently, (6) synthesis of information,(7) evaluation of information, (8) citation, and (9) reflection and self-assessment. The factorstructure of SAPPS was examined with exploratory factor analysis, which supported thatstudents have distinct areas of information literacy. First year and senior engineering studentscores were compared through an independent t-test. The results indicate that there is nosignificant difference between average scores of first year and junior engineering students.First year engineering students may not be fully aware of their needs in information literacyskills. The disconnect between students’ perception of their actions and their actual skillspresents a challenge to equipping students with information literacy. In addition, developingmeasures that are capable of detecting differences between students’ of varying abilities areparticularly challenging, considering students tend to report they already possess these skills.This paper will discuss the implications and future research based on these findings.Atman, C. J., Adams, R., Cardella, M., Turns, J., Mosberg, S., & Saleem J. (2007). Engineering designprocesses: A comparison of students and expert practitioners. Journal of Engineering Education, 96(4),359–379., M., Fosmire, M., Purzer,S., and Cardella, M. (2011). “Lifelong learning and information literacyskills and the first year engineering undergraduate: Report of a self-assessment.” In Proceedings of theASEE National Conference, June 26-29, 2011 Vancouver, BC. AC 2011-1275.

Douglas, K. A., & Wertz, R. E. H., & Fosmire, M., & Purzer, S., & Van Epps, A. S. (2014, June), First-Year and Junior Engineering Students’ Self-Assessment of Information Literacy Skills Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20498

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