What Can Students’ Bibliographies Tell Us?- Evidence Based Information Skills Teaching for Engineering Students

Fei Yu, Jan Sullivan, Leith Woodall

Abstract


Objective - This project sought to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses in locating, retrieving, and citing information in order to deliver information skills workshops more effectively.


Methods - Bibliographies submitted from first-year engineering and second- and fourth-year chemical engineering students’ project reports were analysed for the number of items cited, the variety of items cited, and the correct use of citation style. The topics of the project reports were also reviewed to see the relationships between the topics and the items cited.

Results - The results show that upper level students cited more items in total than did lower level students in their bibliographies. Second- and fourth-year engineering students cited more books and journal articles than first-year students cited. Web sites were used extensively by all three groups of students, and for some first-year students these were the most frequently used sources. Students from all three groups had difficulties with citation style.

Conclusion - There was a clear difference in citation frequency between upper and lower level engineering students. Different strategies of information skills instruction are needed for different levels of students. Librarians and department faculty members need to include good quality Internet resources in their teaching and to change the emphasis from finding information to finding, interpreting, and citing accurately.


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