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A Systemic Approach To Integrating Technical Writing In The Curriculum

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.115.1 - 6.115.8



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Macy Reynolds

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Joseph Untener

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1574

A Systemic Approach to Integrating Technical Writing in the Curriculum

Joseph Untener, Macy Reynolds University of Dayton


This paper presents an approach to writing education recently implemented in the Engineering Technology Department at the University of Dayton. The approach began with an overall curricular review. One of the department’s concerns was employers’ reports that many graduates lacked sufficient technical writing expertise. The department generally agreed that requiring a separate technical writing course and then technical reports in a few courses simply did not meet the expectations of employers. This led to a new approach to integrate writing exercises and evaluation throughout the curriculum. One basic premise from the outset was that writing cannot be limited to a few courses, but requires a thoughtful integration over a student’s entire education in Engineering Technology. Blending writing formats with each course was achieved by a constructing a matrix with courses on one axis and forms of writing on the other. The matrix ensures that students will develop the writing abilities desired by the base of employers during their tenure in the department.


In 1998 the University of Dayton Department of Engineering Technology was re-evaluating and re-structuring the entire curriculum. Several environmental changes drove this need including a reorganization of faculty and a drop in enrollment. The department chose to focus its offerings on engineering technology courses alone. For instance, mathematics had always been taught by a member of the department faculty, but since the two math faculty had been moved to the Department of Mathematics, the faculty adopted university math courses to fulfill these requirements. Also the chemistry course for Engineering Technology students had always been taught by chemical and environmental engineering technology faculty. Since those programs were discontinued, students would now take university courses from the chemistry department. As these changes took effect, department faculty only taught the department courses. Thus it became apparent that the department needed to look for a university course to replace the technical writing course as well.

Technical writing had been a two-credit-hour course in the curriculum for decades. It was a highly-valued course that served students well. Writing can be a weakness in graduates from many programs, and this course addressed many of the skills required of engineering technology students. The department used this course to teach the discipline-specific writing issues that are not covered in English composition and other general education courses. While the Engineering Technology curriculum required technical reports in other courses, this course specifically addressed writing as its focus. It covered such topics as abstracts, lab reports, proposals, instructions, memos, letters, descriptions, resumes, and other typical engineering writing

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Reynolds, M., & Untener, J. (2001, June), A Systemic Approach To Integrating Technical Writing In The Curriculum Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9841

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