Asee peer logo

A Writing in the Disciplines Approach to Technical Report Writing in Chemical Engineering Laboratory Courses

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

Page Count

22

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32019

Download Count

4

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Catherine Anne Hubka University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8892-6948

visit author page

Catherine (Cat) Hubka, MFA, holds dual appointments at the University of New Mexico in the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) and Department of English. For CBE, she is embedded in the 300 and 400 labs where she supports curriculum redesign focused on incorporating content-based writing approaches. In the Department of English, Cat teaches in the Core Writing Program where her pedagogy incorporates creative writing workshops and collaborative writing.

visit author page

biography

Eva Chi University of New Mexico

visit author page

Eva Chi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico. The research in her lab is focused on understanding the dynamics and structures of macromolecular assemblies including proteins, polymers, and lipid membranes. Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars are trained in a multidisciplinary environment, utilizing modern methodologies to address important problems at the interface between chemistry, physics, engineering, and biology preparing the trainees for careers in academe, national laboratories, and industry. In addition to research, she devotes significant time developing and implementing effective pedagogical approaches in her teaching of undergraduate courses to train engineers who are critical thinkers, problem solvers, and able to understand the societal contexts in which they are working to addressing the grand challenges of the 21st century.

visit author page

biography

Yan Chen University of New Mexico

visit author page

Yan Chen is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Departments of Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of New Mexico. Her research interests focus on computer supported collaborative learning, learning sciences, online learning and teaching, and educational equity for multicultural/multiethnic education.

visit author page

biography

Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4342-6178

visit author page

Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and associate professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences program and in the Chemical & Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2018 NSF CAREER awardee in engineering education research. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions; this includes a two-strand research program focused on (1) authentic assessment, often aided by interactive technology, and (2) design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

visit author page

biography

Jamie Gomez University of New Mexico

visit author page

Jamie Gomez, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer III in the department of Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE) at the University of New Mexico. She is a co- principal investigator for the following National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects: Professional Formation of Engineers: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (PFE: RIEF) - Using Digital Badging and Design Challenge Modules to Develop Professional Identity; Professional Formation of Engineers: REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments (IUSE PFE\RED) - Formation of Accomplished Chemical Engineers for Transforming Society. She is a member of the CBE department’s ABET and Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, as well as faculty advisor for several student societies. She is the instructor of several courses in the CBE curriculum including the Material and Energy Balances, junior laboratories and Capstone Design courses. She is associated with several professional organizations including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and American Society of Chemical Engineering Education (ASEE) where she adopts and contributes to innovative pedagogical methods aimed at improving student learning and retention.

visit author page

biography

Abhaya K. Datye University of New Mexico

visit author page

Abhaya Datye has been on the faculty at the University of New Mexico after receiving his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1984. He is presently Chair of the department and Distinguished Regents Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering. From 1994-2014 he served as Director of the Center for Microengineered Materials, a strategic research center at UNM that reports to the Vice President for Research. He is also the founding director of the graduate interdisciplinary program in Nanoscience and Microsystems, the first program at UNM to span three schools and colleges and the Anderson Business School. He served as director of this program from 2007 – 2014. His research interests are in heterogeneous catalysis, materials characterization and nanomaterials synthesis. His research group has pioneered the development of electron microscopy tools for the study of catalysts.

visit author page

author page

Tracy Lee Mallette University of New Mexico

Download Paper |

Abstract

Purpose. While many engineering programs require technical writing courses, students tend to view writing as unrelated to their technical work in engineering. Faculty commonly complain about a lack of progress in student writing of technical reports in laboratories. Faculty also have few opportunities to learn about effective writing instruction. This paper presents a study that integrated a writing-in-the-disciplines approach into chemical engineering undergraduate laboratory courses. Specifically, we investigated whether students would transfer what they learned from one short technical report to another. Our approach involved component submission, providing feedback, and requiring revision on a first short technical report, followed by a second short technical report that involved only component submission.

Methodology. Unlike many programs that offer one or two 3-credit laboratory courses, our program—at a Hispanic-serving research university in the Southwestern United States—offers four 1-credit laboratory courses, spanning the junior and senior years. We revised the writing process in three of the lab courses. Students complete two short technical reports one component at a time; on the first, they received feedback and revised their work.

To assess the impact of these changes, we compared the total scores from the first and second reports that instructors provided using rubrics. The rubrics evaluated both conceptual knowledge and writing quality resulting in composite scores that reflect overall report quality. We conducted t-tests to evaluate whether students transferred their understanding from the first short report, on which they received intensive feedback, to the second, on which they did not. To understand faculty perceptions related to writing and the feasibility of our approach, we interviewed faculty about their experiences.

Results and conclusions. We found that the overall quality of reports improved from the first to second report, t(48) = 3.19, p = .003 in the Spring junior lab and t(54) = 3.76, p = .0004 in the Fall senior lab. Interviews with faculty highlight that while students initially disliked the emphasis on writing, across semesters they came to view it as beneficial. We see this as tied to using variants of a consistent feedback-and-revision approach across multiple semesters.

Implications. This study reinforces past research showing the benefits of writing in the disciplines approaches. We share faculty insights about managing the feedback workload through differentiated rubrics and providing oral feedback, component submission and peer review.

Hubka, C. A., & Chi, E., & Chen, Y., & Svihla, V., & Gomez, J., & Datye, A. K., & Mallette, T. L. (2019, June), A Writing in the Disciplines Approach to Technical Report Writing in Chemical Engineering Laboratory Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32019

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: © 2019 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