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If the Engineering Literature Fits, Use It! Student Application of Grey Literature and Engineering Standards

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Fifty Shades of Grey Literature

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.881.1 - 26.881.10



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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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Jacob William Leachman School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University

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Jacob Leachman is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University (WSU). He initiated the HYdrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) laboratory at WSU in 2010 with the mission to advance the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of hydrogen systems. He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Idaho in 2005 and a M.S. degree in 2007. His master’s thesis has been adopted as the foundation for hydrogen fueling standards and custody exchange, in addition to winning the Western Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Award for 2008. He completed his Ph.D. in the Cryogenic Engineering Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 on the visco-plastic flow of hydrogenic materials for the fueling of fusion energy machines. He has conducted guest research in the Physical and Chemical Properties of Fluids Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Pellet Fueling of Fusion Plasmas Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

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If the Engineering Literature Fits, Use It! Student Application of Grey Literature and Engineering StandardsThe ACRL information literacy standards include the need for students to use informationeffectively to accomplish a specific purpose. To use information for a specific purpose studentsshould have an ability to differentiate the types of information available, assess the relevance andcredibility of the source to their application, and then apply the information within the context oftheir writing. Engineering students are usually aware of monographs and periodicals fromintroductory library instruction but are unfamiliar with grey literature and engineering standards.To address this need, a collaboration between library and engineering instruction for a seniorlevel capstone mechanical engineering design course was created. The course consisted of 3independent sections of approximately 20 students each that were randomly paired and assignedprojects from the same pool of 10 system-level experiments. The students were tasked withdeveloping a full analysis and report of the system-level performance of their respectiveexperiment. Library instruction occurred during the second lecture of class and consisted of afifty minute overview presentation followed by two hours of work time. All sections werepresented information types as five different categories: monographs, scholarly articles, greyliterature, standards, and multimedia. One section of the class was randomly selected andpresented information types placed into contextual uses within example sections of a report andassigned a worksheet requiring them to find sources specific to their project and list them withinthe report section they planned to implement the literature. The efficacy of this pedagogicalchange to contextualize examples followed by immediate application was assessed by measuringthe frequency and type of citations used by all 3 sections of the class. Citation analysis found astatistically insignificant 4.6% increase in total number of citations used by the test sectionstudents. Although the utilization of engineering standards did not increase, the use of greyliterature in the test section doubled compared with the two control sections taught by the sameengineering faculty. Furthermore the test section decreased their use of multimedia information.Two subsequent sections of the course taught by other engineering faculty are also compared.This provides a preliminary indication that contextualizing library instruction by informationtype increases the diversity of literature utilized by engineering students. The overall credibilityof citations utilized by students in their reports are likely to increase if this diversity increases theuse of grey literature and standards.

Leachman, C., & Leachman, J. W. (2015, June), If the Engineering Literature Fits, Use It! Student Application of Grey Literature and Engineering Standards Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24218

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