Asee peer logo

A Partnership Model for Integrating Technical Communication Habits Throughout Undergraduate Engineering Courses

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Promoting Technical Communication Skills

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kristine Horvat University of New Haven

visit author page

Dr. Kristine Horvat earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Molecular Engineering and a Masters & PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Stony Brook University. While in graduate school, she performed research at Brookhaven National Laboratory to investigate gas hydrates as an alternative energy source. Currently, Dr. Horvat is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Haven, where she teaches laboratory, materials science, and sustainable energy courses and works on gas hydrate and algal biofuel research projects with students. She is very passionate about engaging and teaching up-and-coming students about engineering, especially topics related to cleaner, low carbon energy.

visit author page


Judy Randi University of New Haven

visit author page

Judy Randi, Ed.D. is Professor of Education at the University of New Haven where she is currently teaching in the Tagliatela College of Engineering and coordinating a college-wide initiative, the Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits (PITCH).

visit author page

Download Paper |


The ability to communicate well is often cited as one of the most valued skills for engineers in the workplace (ABET). The context for this research is a “partnership model” in which an embedded writing instructor collaborates with an engineering instructor to integrate writing instruction into engineering coursework. Reave (2004) characterized partnership as an authentic form of integration, in which faculty collaborate in designing and delivering instruction, and in assessing student outcomes. Thus, in the partnership model, students acquire technical communication habits by engaging in authentic forms of communication – the kind of writing typically required of engineers in the workplace, including laboratory reports. The descriptive study reported here investigates how the partnership model supports students in writing technical lab reports, and explores how this model might be used to systematically improve the writing skills of engineering students taking lab courses supported by both engineering and writing faculty. The sample was drawn from students in a junior level Chemical Engineering (CHME) laboratory course with 12 students. Both writing and engineering instructors team-taught lectures on technical writing and provided students’ ongoing feedback on their writing. Instructors collaborated with engineers from other engineering disciplines to develop resources for writing lab reports and writing exercises; these resources were available online and assigned to students in the CHME course. Data collected for analysis included statistics of students’ use of online writing resources, student satisfaction surveys, lab report grades, in-class writing exercises, and teaching artifacts as well as comparison data from student lab reports in previous courses. Results from the junior-level end-of course survey indicate that students perceived the process of writing a laboratory report more difficult than completing the scientific and engineering computations and analyses required for each report. The students in the CHME sample will be followed through the next course in the sequence and data collection, including a second end-of-course satisfaction survey, will continue through the Fall of 2019. The results of the analysis of students’ writing samples collected over time will be reported in the paper, including improvements in overall grades on the lab reports as well as areas of strengths and weaknesses in different components of the lab reports. Findings from this analysis will show how the students in the CHME partnership study applied what they learned from the instruction and resources that collaboration among instructors of different disciplines afforded them. This descriptive study of a partnership model is offered as one example of bringing new and critical perspectives to engineering education.

References ABET. (n.d.) Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs, 2018 – 2019. Retrieved from Reave, L. (2004). Technical communication instruction in engineering schools: A survey of top-ranked US and Canadian programs. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 18(4), 452-490.

Horvat, K., & Randi, J. (2020, June), A Partnership Model for Integrating Technical Communication Habits Throughout Undergraduate Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34029

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015