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College of Textiles
College of Engineering
Textiles Library

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Instruction Toolkit for
Textiles and Engineering Services

Information Competencies for Engineering Students


Information-oriented assignments given to freshmen should be highly-structured, with expectations (as to sources used, citation style, and formatting or presentation) clearly stated. Assignments should help orient students to the NCSU Libraries' physical and virtual presences and spaces.

By the end of their first year, students should:

  • Have an understanding of the NCSU Libraries system, its locations physical and virtual.
  • Be comfortable using the library web site to access basic resources and services (e.g., simple book/article search from homepage, My Account).
  • Be proficient in accessing course reserves and textbooks, both print and online.
  • Have an awareness of subject specific research tools available through the library.


Information-oriented assignments given to sophomores should be very structured, with expectations clearly stated. Assignments should reinforce and build on the information skills of the freshman year.

By the end of their second year, students should:

  • Be aware of search tools for engineers (such as Compendex) and know how to use a database to search an engineering topic.
  • Be aware of engineering handbooks as sources of data.
  • Understand the difference between popular, scholarly and trade journals and have a basic understanding of the parts of a scholarly journal article.
  • Be able to formulate a keyword search, and refine that search.
  • Know the names of some of the key resources in their field of study.
  • Understand the importance of citing sources and be able to use basic tools (Citation Builder, web sites with examples, books, etc.) to properly format citations.
  • Have a basic understanding of what constitutes plagiarism.


Information-oriented assignments for juniors should be less structured, with more open-ended expectations. They should build and expand on the information skills obtained during the freshman and sophomore years.

By the end of their junior year, students should:

  • Be able to name a few of the major information sources in their field of study, and be proficient accessing and searching them.
  • Be able to effectively synthesize information in text and graphic formats.
  • Be able to present a verbal or written strategy for solving an information problem.
  • Be able to formulate a thesis and frame an argument.
  • Be able to use more sophisticated citation management tools (such as Refworks or Zotero) with proficiency.
  • Have a more advanced understanding of plagiarism including paraphrasing, using quotations, using images and media, etc.
  • Be able to critically evaluate information, for example, comparing and contrasting multiple viewpoints, reconcile conflicting information, etc.
  • Possess writing skills appropriate for college-level work.


Information-oriented assignments for seniors should build advanced searching skills and a firm understanding of the "information universe." Seniors should graduate with information competencies sufficient for functioning in the working world or for beginning a graduate degree program.

By the end of their senior year, students should:

  • Be able to develop a successful approach to a complex and open-ended information problem.
  • Know what patents and engineering standards are and how to find them.
  • Be fully prepared to research across subject disciplines.
  • Be able to professionally present information in a variety of formats using old or new media.
  • Have a more advanced knowledge of the data life-cycle and data sources beyond handbooks.