The ease of Googling on the open web makes it increasingly unlikely that our incoming students will make the extra effort to search for good quality sources through the library website. Few if any first year courses focus on finding good quality information within the majors. Thus, students struggle to catch up in subsequent years when assignments require more sophisticated research. In order to get students to learn about engineering research, we introduced a two-part assignment through our required first year Fundamentals of Engineering Design (FED101) course. These students are still deciding which engineering major to pursue. So, we created a library assignment that would help widen their knowledge and understanding about various engineering innovations, but also strengthen their research skills. In part 1, students chose one online article from a list created by instructors and librarians. Students were asked to find the article though the library website, read it carefully and write a one-page summary. For part 2, students conducted their own research and found two more articles from the library website that either supported or opposed the views presented in the first article they had selected. Students submitted a final two-page report describing the innovation and why it is important. They had to use evidence from all the articles to support their main ideas, use in-text and full references correctly, conclude by synthesizing the issues and suggesting possible future research needed. This activity was made possible by collaboration between university librarians, FED101 instructors, and the engineering dean’s office. Students received clear instructions, guidance and help every step of the way. This activity was well-received by the students and achieved the instructional goals set by faculty. Students became interested and excited about a particular area of engineering and familiar with innovative research areas. They demonstrated basic information literacy, and practiced writing a report in a precise and concise style. This activity will become a permanent part of the FED101 course syllabus for general engineering students and in other FED101 sections offered by all engineering departments. Assessment using a validated rubric for information literacy and a survey to measure student engagement is planned.
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