Using an Interdisciplinary Approach to Teach Undergraduates Communication and Information Literacy Skills

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2010
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Dinkelman, Andrea L.
Aune, Jeanine E.
Nonnecke, Gail R.
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Copyright © 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy
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University Library
The University Library provides and promotes discovery tools, trusted informational resources, and information literacy skills as a vital campus partner in ensuring that the university will lead the world in advancing the land-grant ideals of putting science, technology and human creativity to work. In doing so, the Library equips faculty, staff and students to create, share and apply knowledge in addressing the challenges of the 21st century. The University Library features a collection of over 2.6 million volumes, with strengths in biological and physical sciences and technology.
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English

The Department of English seeks to provide all university students with the skills of effective communication and critical thinking, as well as imparting knowledge of literature, creative writing, linguistics, speech and technical communication to students within and outside of the department.

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The Department of English and Speech was formed in 1939 from the merger of the Department of English and the Department of Public Speaking. In 1971 its name changed to the Department of English.

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1939-present

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  • Department of English and Speech (1939-1971)

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Horticulture
The Department of Horticulture was originally concerned with landscaping, garden management and marketing, and fruit production and marketing. Today, it focuses on fruit and vegetable production; landscape design and installation; and golf-course design and management.
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For successful and productive careers, undergraduate students need effective communication and critical thinking skills; information literacy is a substantial component in the development of these skills. Students often perceive communication courses as distinct and separate from their chosen discipline. Faculty from the Departments of English and Horticulture and the library at Iowa State University collaborated in a foundation communication course (English 250). The course incorporates five components—finding information sources; evaluating information sources; and preparing an annotated bibliography, a research paper, and a research poster—all within the context of horticulture. The objective of the collaboration was to integrate communication and information literacy concepts into English 250 and relate these concepts to the students’ discipline of horticulture. Assessment data and focus group discussions strongly validate students’ appreciation for an interdisciplinary approach to teaching communication and information literacy skills within the discipline.
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The following article is published as Dinkelman, Andrea L., Jeanine E. Aune, and Gail R. Nonnecke. "Using an interdisciplinary approach to teach undergraduates communication and information literacy skills." Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education 39, no. 1 (2010): 137-144 and available under a CC-BY license. Posted with permission.
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