Letter sent in by Nicole Will in Delta Magazine

On 24 August 2011 the Dutch article ‘Lost in the library’ was published in Delta online. The article referred to a study of universities in Illinois which revealed that students are unable to search ‘efficiently’. They lack information skills, as these are referred to in the library world.

We have observed this problem at TU Delft as well. TU Delft wants to increase the academic quality of its students’ output and has placed study success and reducing dropouts high on its agenda. Academic skills, including information skills, play an important role in achieving these aims.

For that reason, in recent years TU Delft Library has developed a number of training modules to teach students these skills. These focus on not only searching for information, but also learning how to evaluate the information found. After all, not all the information found is equally reliable.

The next step concerns processing the information. For example, how do you prevent plagiarism? How do you quote and reference correctly? The emphasis in the training modules is on the creation of awareness amongst students.

Training alone is not enough. You only really learn these skills once you put them into practice. And the more often you use them, the better the results. The training modules have been placed online, on , so that students always have the option to refer to them. Anyone with a NetID can ‘enrol’ and go through them.

In cooperation with the lecturers, the Library gives these training modules in BSc 1 and 2 or 3 and, since September 2011, also to MSc students.

Nicole Will, product manager, TU Delft Library

Source: Delta 26, 22-09-2011, page 15 (Dutch only)

Figures

In September 1250 students took part in the first-year training module and 200 took part in the second-year training module.

Quotes from students

“It was very useful to learn tips for using search terms to find things with search engines. Much appreciated, thanks. The exercise that involved quoting and paraphrasing was also very useful, because it’s easy to make mistakes in that respect.”

“It was informative, but sometimes there was too much information to take in all at once. For example, the part about plagiarism. But I think it’s really useful that you can review the information at a later date, because plagiarism is a very relevant issue for the rest of your course.”

“The training module is a great way of getting to know the systems for collecting information that TU Delft offers. I studied in Enschede for two years, but the Boolean operators were new to me. Very useful!”

“Thought it was very useful. I had no idea about a lot of things and searching for references will now be much easier.”