Evaluating an information literacy intervention for first year engineering students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology
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The aim of the research project is to investigate the effectiveness of an information literacy intervention for first year engineering students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Information literacy has been identified as a necessary outcome of tertiary education. It refers to the life-long learning competencies of finding and using information in order to solve problems, to make decisions and to create new knowledge. Information literacy education has evolved from earlier forms of library user education, such as bibliographic instruction, and is central to the mission of academic libraries. However, librarians responsible for information literacy programmes seldom evaluate the effectiveness of their interventions. In today's climate of accountability and outcomes-based education, it is necessary to provide evidence of the benefits of the user education that libraries provide. The researcher uses the American College and Research Library (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, which are internationally recognized and widely used by South African academic librarians, as a benchmark to evaluate an intervention for a group of first year students enrolled for a mechanical engineering course. The intervention consists of two workshops which aim to teach the students to find information relevant to their essays via the university's OPAC, various engineering databases and to teach them how to reference and cite their sources in their essays. The research methodology assessed students' information literacy before and after the two workshops with the use of a questionnaire consisting of a set of questions based on some of the ACRL standards. The questionnaire also gathered data on students' prior experience of libraries, reading and computers, which might impact on their information literacy.
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