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Leveraging The Internet And Limited On Campus Resources To Teach Information Literacy Skills To Future Engineering Practitioners

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Standards For Future Engineering Practitioners

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.841.1 - 15.841.15



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Paper Authors

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Charlotte Erdmann Purdue University

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Bruce Harding Purdue University

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



In the internet age, practitioners of engineering and technology may find themselves lacking information literacy skills so necessary in a modern global work environment. The needs may be manifested as researching technical and non-technical information, the basis for a price quote, equipment specifications, company profiles, standards compliance and a myriad of other types of information. Throw in issues of ethics and determining the validity and reliability of sources among the millions on the internet, information literacy becomes a critical instrument in the practitioners toolbox. Yet few classes address practitioner's needs for broad information research literacy skills.

This paper details strategies for a student research project that new faculty may use to enhance undergraduate technical research experiences in an information literacy context within any engineering or engineering technology discipline. It leverages the internet plus the resources of a well-endowed, or even a modestly-endowed, campus library and is readily adaptable to changing technology. As implemented at Purdue University, the project has been cited by multiple ABET re-accreditation teams for innovation and as an excellent example of continuously improved instruction. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the more noteworthy experiences cited in both student exit surveys and in postgraduate surveys.

Also discussed are specific information literacy skills identified by national organizations and their relationship to accreditation requirements especially relevant for engineering and technology students. Ultimately, whether student acquire the skills through a single project or through gradual skill acquisition in several classes, students need experiential avenues to learn these critical research skills.


The primary case study cited is a curriculum-integrated information literacy assignment in Production Design & Specifications, a core course on product realization in the department of Mechanical Engineering Technology at Purdue University. The assignment spans roughly two weeks in the second semester problem-solving class. Dubbed the Treasure Hunt or simply the Hunt, the assignment consists of detailed questions from which each student must answer ten of twelve randomly assigned. questions. They must fully document a legitimate verifiable source for full credit, hence enhancing their research skills but also enhancing their confidence in finding technical information.

This paper additionally includes a literature review on aspects of the case study project, overview of information literacy standards, description of related engineering and technology accreditation requirements, and integration of information literacy into the curriculum. The case study and its

Erdmann, C., & Harding, B. (2010, June), Leveraging The Internet And Limited On Campus Resources To Teach Information Literacy Skills To Future Engineering Practitioners Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16479

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