Information literacy skills of postgraduate students in the faculty of engineering at the Durban University of Technology.
This study examined the information literacy skills of the postgraduate engineering students at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). The rapid growth of the information age and the advent of the information explosion simultaneously with the Internet has created a problem for many novice and expert researchers when accessing quality information resources for research. There are students filtering into graduate research programmes in higher education institutions across South Africa who possess few information literacy skills. Although this problem is partially rectified at undergraduate level it is apparent, based on the researchers observations that many graduate students enter into research programmes lacking in information literacy skills. The aim of this study was to investigate the information literacy skills of the postgraduate engineering students at the DUT and to make recommendations to improve the information literacy skills of these students. The objectives of this study were therefore to ascertain the types of information literacy skills postgraduate engineering students brought from their undergraduate studies at the DUT, the major challenges postgraduate engineering students experienced in learning and applying information literacy skills and the ways in which the information literacy skills of postgraduate engineering students can be improved at the DUT. The conceptual framework of this study is based on the understanding of information literacy from the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. The two population sets for the study were the DUT postgraduate engineering students and the postgraduate librarians. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to the postgraduate engineering students of which thirty were completed giving a response rate of 38%. The two postgraduate librarians who were involved in teaching information literacy to the postgraduate engineering students were interviewed using a semi-structured interview. The findings of this study revealed that the postgraduate engineering students at the DUT are lacking in key areas of information literacy, namely, analysing a topic, forming a search strategy, using boolean operators, database searching, understanding referencing and plagiarism. Recommendations included the need for embedding information literacy instruction within the curriculum making it credit bearing and partnering between university administrators, academics and librarians are crucial to enhance information literacy. Suggestions for further research were provided.