G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Recognizing required changes to higher education engineering programs’ information literacy education as a consequence of research problems becoming more complex

Open Access publication

Publication Details
Authors: Talikka Marja
Publishing place: Lappeenranta
Publication year: 2018
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
ISBN: 978-952-335-237-7
eISBN: 978-952-335-238-4
ISSN: 1456-4491
JUFO-Level of this publication:
Permanent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-335-238-4
Open Access: Open Access publication


Challenges in the Earth’s sustainable development set requirements to
modern engineering education. Engineers face complex problems, which
need to be solved to keep the planet viable for future generations. This
study was conducted to find out what kind of changes should be made to
the practice and to the content of information literacy (IL) education
in order to provide students attending higher education engineering
programs with knowledge and skills they need in solving the engineering
problems of the modern world. While IL teaching resources at
Lappeenranta Academic Library are limited, IL education at the
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) is carried out either online
or as brief IL education sessions, which are integrated in substance
education. This study focuses on the effects of brief integrated IL
education on students’ information literacy and their ability to
recognize the complex issues of their research problems.

This study reports how brief IL education can be developed to
fulfill the information literacy needs of modern engineering research
and design successfully. Brief IL education sessions, which based on
results of observations about IL skills and knowledge that student lack,
were integrated in mechanical engineering seminar courses which aimed
at finding the most sustainable materials for given application and in a
basic course of environmental technology. The objective was to find out
if students’ research accomplishments and research understanding would
benefit from the brief IL sessions.

The research based on transcribed student answers to surveys and
interviews, which were analyzed according to the Miles & Huberman
method and teachers’ evaluations of learning outcomes. Classifications
for categorizing student answers were created to study changes in their
information searching and research skills. The qualitative results were
quantified according to the classifications. Changes in searching skills
were studied by using the Webropol survey tool before and after IL
education to find out about changes in the use of search words and
information sources. Mechanical engineering seminar students’ research
problem formulations analyses based on a four-step classification which
was created for this research by applying Ackoff’s knowledge hierarchy
(Ackoff 1989) and Fava’s sustainability maturity curve (Fava 2014,
Burgess 2014). The development of students’ information search questions
was studied by using a six-point classification tool which is based on
the model of the stages of information searching presented by Kuhlthau
(1993) and further developed by Vakkari (2000) and on the six cognitive
process categories of Bloom’s taxonomy (Anderson, Krathwohl 2001). Both
analyses, the research problem formulation and information search
question development, were done from the perspective of sustainability
issues appearing in students’ questionnaire answers.

Based on the results, brief integrated IL education appears to
advance students’ searching skills, their ability to understand and
outline their research problem, and the way they formulate their
information search questions to find literature for solving the
interdisciplinary research problem at hand. Integrating the presented
kind of brief IL education sessions into substance education enhances
students’ understanding of the complexity of their research problems and
the procedure to find suitable information to solve those problems. In
addition to developing their ability to do research, they also learn to
observe their problems from a wider perspective and e.g. take into
account sustainability challenges of their topics. From the engineering
program’s viewpoint, the fact that students engage in interdisciplinary
issues of their research problem as a result of integrated IL education
is an advantage and saves faculty teaching resources when experts of all
linking disciplines do not need to participate in instruction.

Last updated on 2020-22-10 at 08:38