Interview with Kevin P. Drees, Oklahoma State University
Knovel helps Oklahoma State University instill practical research skills in its engineering students.
For nearly 10 years, Kevin Drees, Engineering Librarian at Oklahoma State University, has taught freshmen engineering students the essentials of academic research. For years, the emphasis was on print resources—finding and using them effectively. But as the bulk of engineering and scientific data moved online, he realized his approach needed a significant shift, as well.
The current generation of students has always embraced the Internet as an information resource, but they haven’t fully grasped how to ensure credible results. Drees knew that introducing students to a better research tool would be the first, vital step. But he also knew that it was just as important for the students to have an engaging task so they could fully explore the tool’s capabilities.
The Engineering Academic Challenge turned out to be the perfect answer. The Challenge is an annual competition that pits college-level science and engineering students against one another in answering a series of technical research questions using Knovel’s online resources. Drees incorporated the Challenge into his curriculum because the breadth and depth of Knovel’s online resources include science and engineering texts and handbooks, professional society and government documents, manuals and technical reports, and more. He also knows Knovel is especially valuable for his students because its information is readily accessible and thoroughly reliable.
"Knovel is the type of tool [students] will be well served by in both academic and industry settings." Kevin Drees, Oklahoma State University
To be prepared for the future, today’s science and engineering students must be able to seek and evaluate the reliability of online information. For Drees, however, it’s not just about teaching them to do their work properly, but incorporating the most effective teaching method as well.
I included Knovel because the research shows that hands-on searching with a database in an instruction session followed by an assignment completed afterwards increases the likelihood that students anchor the memory of the respective database and its usefulness.
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