Essay on Graduate School and Information Literacy

Submitted By MProuls
Words: 1656
Pages: 7

Information Literacy for Graduate Students :
Victims of our Success !

Huguette Mallet,
Reference Librarian at Bibliothèque de Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, Que, Canada

Madeleine Proulx,
Coordinator of Library Services to Canada Chairs at Bibliothèque de Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, Que, Canada


Founded in 1873, Polytechnique de Montréal is a French engineering school with 200 Faculty and 6, 000 students. The Library is under the Research and Innovation Directorate.
In 1999, the Polytechnique Action Plan proposed that a specific objective on a library instruction program be given to all graduate students. In 2001, a survey on the supervision of a graduate students was done by the Teaching and Learning Centre. The results indicated that 77% of Faculty mentioned that graduate students had to improve their information knowledge and skills. Graduate students reported that any support to improve their research outcomes would be welcome. In 2002, the Polytechnique Graduate Studies Directorate agreed with a Library proposal to add a 12 hours Information Literacy Workshop to an existing one credit course in Research Methodology.

Faculty – Library interaction

Following these results, the director of the Library and the manager of the reference service manager promoted the inclusion of a complete literacy instruction program into the curriculum for students at the graduate level. Since 1998, reference librarians were offering different instructions activities on an optional basis into engineering undergraduate and graduate courses as invited lecturers or in individual consultations. Only 20% of graduate students were reached.
Data on those activities were compiled for the director of the library in order to prepare a proposal. The proposal was developed as a result of a close collaboration with Faculty, Graduate Studies Association, Teaching and Learning Centre and Library. It was presented to the Graduate Studies Directorate.
The objectives of the information literacy proposal were to enable graduate students to : define their information needs formulate a search strategy search efficiently in selected databases select and evaluate the citations create profiles for continuous updating manage a personal bibliographic database with ProCite® software
The program was designed using the ACRL standards but also modeled by similar programs for graduate studies at Chalmers University and Queensland University. In the fall of 2002, 12 hours in Information literacy was added to the existing Research Methodology course.
This new one credit Research Methodology course became mandatory for all PhD students and was strongly suggested for master students who had a research profile. In order to get graduate students approval, a pre-test (basic knowledge) was prepared on a WebCT platform. Some students argued that they already mastered information resources and didn’t need to attend all the information literacy modules.
For the final assessment, each student would produce a proposal and a research information portfolio using their own research topic. Librarian graded the portfolio and Faculty, the research proposal.

Information literacy workshop modules
The information literacy workshop is divided into three modules :
Module 1 - Introduction to information sources and basic searching (4 hours)

This module is directed to introduction of library resources and basic bibliographic searches. At the end of this workshop each student has to produce a laboratory report which includes: concept plan : topic, main concepts with their relevant keywords basic search strategies search results from an engineering database (Compendex or Inspec) evaluation of the relevance rate of theirs searches
Module 2 - Advanced search techniques and current awareness profiles (4 hours)

The advanced search techniques in engineering databases are presented. The importance, principles and techniques of competitive technical