June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.1682.1 - 22.1682.13
What information sources do engineering students use to address authentic sociotechnicalproblems?Applied Science 263 course (Technology and Development: The Global Engineer) at the Universityof British Columbia (UBC) uses Problem-Oriented Learning (POL) to explore the environmental,economic, political, and social contexts of appropriate technologies in the developing world.Students are presented with real sociotechnical problems identified by three communities in Indiavia a local social entrepreneur in the artisanal textile and crafts sector. Because the contextualinformation to these problems is sparse and incomplete, students must grapple with ambiguity andre-negotiate the library research skills they have acquired, as they propose solutions to thesepedagogically ill-structured but real-life problems.For the last two years, the course instructors have invited engineering librarians to offer informationliteracy sessions about researching solutions to authentic sociotechnical problems in the developingworld. During this time, the librarians and professors often wondered what sources students used intheir research and why.In this study, we used three sets of critical reflections to obtain predominantly qualitative data: first,we asked the forty APSC 263 students to identify the information sources they planned to use toconduct their research. Then an engineering librarian introduced the students to a number ofscience and engineering databases, e.g. Compendex and Web of Science, and compared them toGoogle and Google Scholar. Following this session, we asked the students to predict whether theirinformation sources would change and why. Finally, at the end of the course after the students hadsubmitted their final reports, we asked them comment on the information sources they used andwhy.Because engineering students need to be prepared for a dynamic, global workplace, with unknownconstraints and limited information resources, librarians and engineering instructors would benefitfrom knowing how students adapt their research strategies to effectively deal with the incompleteand/or conflicting data associated with real-world problems. This has implications for the life-longlearning that is now expected of engineering professionals.** We respectfully submit this paper for a conference presentation. However, it can also bepresented as a poster.
Barsky, E., & Berndt, A., & Greenwood, A., & Paterson, C. S. (2011, June), What Information Sources do Engineering Students use to Address Authentic Sociotechnical Problems? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18606
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