June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Assessing the value of different techniques for teaching technical communication skills
In 2010, the University of New Haven launched an effort called PITCH: The Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits, to improve the technical communication skills of students. In its first four years, the program developed specific learning objectives, trained faculty, and created specific PITCH assignments and rubrics that were incorporated into four common engineering courses; two in the freshman year, one in the sophomore year, and one in the senior year. The program improved students writing skills, as shown by an assessment completed in the Fall of 2015. Excepting the assignments and evaluation rubrics, specific curriculum has not year been deployed. In an effort to guide the development of this curriculum, in this study we evaluate student feedback on different teaching techniques used to teach technical communication skills including: online modules, writing-specific assignment feedback, in-class lectures on best practices, and a revision cycle facilitated by small writing groups with both the professor of engineering and a writing instructor. The study was done in a chemical engineering laboratory course, where students wrote technical memos based on the results of experimental work. In addition to evaluating the effectiveness of different teaching techniques, students used a rubric to self-assess their progress in communication skills. Instructors used the same rubric to provide students' feedback and evaluate their progress. At the end of the semester, students reflected on the most influential tools that improved their writing skills, providing valuable feedback for the direction of writing and communication curriculum in engineering.
PITCH is supported by a grant from The Davis Educational Foundation.
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