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An Integrated Curriculum for Technical Writing in Higher Education in China

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

They need more than technical skills!

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Feifei Zhong Southwest Jiaotong University

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Mrs. Feifei Zhong is a lecturer teaching non-English majors English in the School of Foreign Languages, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China. She received her Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Southwest Jiaotong University in 2007 and joined Southwest Jiaotong University since then. Her research interest is in effective English learning strategies. She was the first place winner of university-wise Teaching Competition in 2007 and 2013.

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Gene Hou Old Dominion University

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Dr. Gene Hou is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of Old Dominion University (ODU). He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of Iowa in 1983 and joined Old Dominion University since then. His expertise is in computational mechanics, multidisciplinary design optimization and system integration and risk management. He is the co-director of the Marine Dynamics Laboratory. During his tenure, he has the privilege of developing 3 new undergraduate and 6 new graduate courses in the areas related to computational methods and design.

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Technical Writing (TW) is a term that represents an increasingly broad set of activities that are designed to effectively communicate information and argument. As long as our modern society needs to go forward, TW will be indispensable. Professors in US are often complaining about international students’ TW skills in English as they struggled with editing students’ dissertation or academic reports. As more and more Chinese students seeking their further education in the US these days, English TW skill has become a pressing issue. In order to improve Chinese students’ TW skill, it is necessary to find the causes of the deficiencies. The major concern is that TW instruction has not being treated as an emphasis in all disciplines in Chinese Universities. Unlike their counterparts in US, most Chinese universities do not provide TW courses neither in English nor in Chinese; even if universities intent to provide these courses, they could not find qualified English TW instructors [Barnum and Li, 2006] nor provide suitable teaching materials [Gao, Yu and Jong, 2014]. Lack of academic research on TW both in English and Chinese is another reason rendering to these deficiencies. After analyzing the deficiencies, this paper recommends ways to improve English TW. First, the philosophy that TW is for learning and critical thinking [Bean, 2011] should be built in the mindset of policy makers, teachers and students in China. Second, in the instructions of both Chinese and English TW, we should focus more on the Higher Order Concerns including ideas, focus, organization, and development/evidence, instead of focusing more on the Lower Order Concerns such as voice/tone, sentence structure, usage or spelling [Bean, 2011]. Third, courses of TW in Chinese [Ding, 2010] and in English should be added to the curriculum of every Chinese universities. Fourth, Chinese universities should be encouraged to organize more international conferences on TW so as to establish more collaborative researches of TW and to attract more cooperation with companies home and abroad. More details will be presented in this paper through interviews with US professors, ESL teachers and Chinese international students at Old Dominion University and literature surveys. Meanwhile, analysis of sample TW papers from second year engineering students in Southwest Jiaotong University that highlight their deficiencies in TW will also be summarized in the paper.

Zhong, F., & Hou, G. (2017, June), An Integrated Curriculum for Technical Writing in Higher Education in China Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27571

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