June 12, 2005
June 12, 2005
June 15, 2005
10.211.1 - 10.211.7
Applying a Writing-to-Learn Strategy in a Traditional Material Science and Engineering Course
Darin Ridgway, Valerie L. Young, and Kendree J. Sampson Ohio University Department of Chemical Engineering Athens, OH 45701
Abstract A traditional Material Science and Engineering course at Ohio University has been modified to use a Writing-to-Learn approach, with the primary focus on demonstrating qualitative understanding of the relationship between the microstructure and the properties of materials. The format for the qualitative portion of the course centers around daily reading and writing assignments that occur outside of class and before the material is covered in class. Classroom time is devoted to some combination of lecture, student presentations, general discussion between the students and instructor, peer review, critiques of sample responses from previous years, and practice quizzes. Writing assignments are checked immediately before or during class; but the evaluation of homework is limited to whether or not a good faith effort was made. The instructors do not provide a “correct” answer. Instead, they moderate and guide class discussions and provide their own critique of the answers as needed. Closed-book exam questions are chosen from the homework questions so students know ahead of time what material will be tested on the exams. All of the homework/exam questions are discussed in the textbook. This reduces the amount of lecture needed and makes it possible to use class time to help deepen the student’s understanding of the material. A quantitative component of the course remains in place. Quantitative material is tested through traditional, open-book exams.
Introduction A traditional Material Science and Engineering course at Ohio University has been converted to a writing-intensive course through the use of “Writing-to-Learn” activities. While the course retains a quantitative/calculation component, the emphasis is on qualitative/conceptual understanding of the course material. The focus of the course is the relationship between the microstructure and the properties of engineering materials.
While there is no dispute about the importance of written communication skills to engineers, the use of writing as a learning tool in an engineering curriculum is not common. The use of writing as a learning tool makes sense because writing skills are closely related to critical thinking skills that are essential if students are to synthesize, analyze and correctly apply course material. Furthermore, writing is an active process and, as such, is an efficicient pedagogy. As stated by Syrene Forsman, ‘Writing is one the most effective ways to develop thinking1 .’
Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) as a formal program began spreading in the 1980's.
Proceedings of the 2005 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education
Sampson, K., & Ridgway, D., & Young, V. (2005, June), Applying A Writing To Learn Strategy In A Traditional Material Science And Engineering Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14593
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