Action research for generic skill development : an integrated curriculum approach to develop information literacy, critical analysis and English expression of engineering students (utilizing triangulated assessment)
Dawson, Graham C. & Brown, Richard J. (2003) Action research for generic skill development : an integrated curriculum approach to develop information literacy, critical analysis and English expression of engineering students (utilizing triangulated assessment). In Brown, Allison (Ed.) Australasian Association for Engineering Education (14th : 2003 : RMIT University, Melbourne, Vic.), 29 September - 1 October, 2003, RMIT, Melbourne.
concerns the extent of engineering students’ generic skills in searching and retrieving the professional published literature and their ability to read, conceptualize and write a simple literature review. Students with a range of written English ability, including English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL) are the subjects reported in this paper.
Provoked by a paper presented at AaeE 2001 in Brisbane (Airey, 2001) an academic staff member and a librarian formed a partnership to undertake an action research project. One goal was to extend students’ information literacy capabilities in a piece of integrated assessment. A further objective was to integrate generic skill development while researching a topic on sustainability. The action research project was embedded in the Mechanical Engineering unit, Energy and the Environment.
Students conducted a literature review. They were required to give a coherent account of issues raised, to describe the links and correlations, ambiguities and weaknesses of current knowledge contained in their selection of literature. Students were also asked to give their own opinions and predications of the technology studied.
A triangulated, moderated, assessment system comprising academic, librarian, and peer marker was employed. Statistical correlations between the three components were undertaken. Our findings support one of two possible scenarios: either a sizeable proportion of the student cohort had low critical analysis skills, or socio-cultural barriers to honest peer assessment came into play.
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