Embedding Information Seeking in the Curriculum

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Cherie Turner, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Information seeking is an essential skill for STEM students and closely relates to other essential “soft skills” like critical thinking, decision making, and communication.  Libraries are uniquely prepared to address this need but, because of time limitations, frequently struggle for opportunities to meaningfully teach information seeking skills. A group of librarians at the University of Houston Libraries completed a syllabi-based review of the undergraduate curriculum. The outcomes and assignments for each course were matched to a pre-determined list of information seeking skills (including knowledge of sources, search strategy, research methods, evaluation, and organizing and citing) to identify gaps between skill needs and education at the discipline and course levels. By combining this review with course plans for each program, and anecdotal evidence from interactions with faculty and students, the group was able to identify and prioritize skill gaps and opportunities to address them. The results of the review are being used to improve information seeking instruction by incorporating it directly into the curriculum. This poster will address a few key strategies developed for undergraduate programs in chemistry, chemical engineering, and biomedical engineering based on the findings of the curriculum review. These strategies focus on methods that take minimal class time like using or adapting existing assignments, and developing static or interactive online tools. Where possible these strategies have already been applied to add or change instruction around information seeking. Work will continue to integrate these skills effectively for each course, and program.