This is the published version of Ross, M., Fosmire, M., Wertz, R.E.H, Cardella, M., and Purzer, S. (2011). Lifelong Learning and Information Literacy Skills and the First Year Engineering Undergraduate: Report of a Self-Assessment. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. June 26-29, 2011 and is available at:


ABET accreditation requires engineering students to attain ‘a recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in lifelong learning.” (Outcome 3.i) However, there are few standard tools that attempt to assess the skills and techniques students need in order to achieve those outcomes. Focusing on the problem articulation and information literacy skills embedded in lifelong learning competencies, the authors constructed a standardized assessment to measure student self-perceptions of how often they employ those skills. The criteria for these competencies were based on the Information Search Process of Carol Kuhlthau, engineering design process characteristics, and the authors’ own analysis of previous student work. The specific behaviors probed include: problem or task articulation, problem solving, information gathering, and the use, evaluation, and documentation of that information. This assessment was given to the entire class of first-year engineering undergraduates at a Research I institution in Fall of 2010 (N=1631). Results of the assessment were then correlated with other measures of student performance in a course required for all first-year engineers. Overall, students expressed less confidence in their ability both to find and to evaluate information than in the other concepts probed, while they reported documenting and citing sources as one of their most highly rated skills. Comparing self-assessments with more direct measures of student performance yields a substantial ‘novice effect’ of inflated self-perception of competency.


information literacy; self-assessments; engineering education; first-year students

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