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Board 22: Work in Progress: Improving Biomedical Engineering Student Technical Writing through Rubrics and Lab Report Re-submissions

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Robert Wayne Gammon-Pitman Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Engineering educator determined to improve the student learning though professional development, outreach, and community development.

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Tanya M. Nocera Ohio State University

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Tanya M. Nocera, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University. She is focused on developing, teaching, and assessing upper-level Biomedical Engineering laboratory courses, with particular interest in improving student technical communication skills.

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Graduates from ABET accredited engineering programs are expected to demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively. Technical writing skills are particularly difficult to teach and even more time consuming to assess, often limiting the number of opportunities students are given to practice and improve writing skills throughout their undergraduate education. Presented here is a rubric-driven approach for teaching and assessing technical writing through multiple upper-level biomedical engineering laboratory courses. For each lab course, students were provided with a detailed rubric outlining the requirements for a full technical paper, including abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion, and conclusions. The rubrics were used to guide the students in the technical writing process; technical-writing focused graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) assessed the submitted student reports against the same rubric to provide detailed formative feedback. Students were then permitted one revision and re-submission opportunity, during which they could address deficiencies in their writing and earn up to half the points back from their first submission. By giving students a rubric specifically detailing the requirements for high-quality technical writing before they begin writing, as well as providing the opportunity to revise and re-submit their technical reports, we found statistically significant increases in the students’ final lab report scores (p<0.05, n=155). Additionally, since students were required to follow this identical writing process throughout three different upper-level laboratory courses, student improvement in technical writing skills could be tracked, indicating the importance of repetitive technical writing practice. This rubric and re-submission driven method has provided a directly quantitative means for assessing students’ improvement in their abilities to communicate effectively.

Gammon-Pitman, R. W., & Nocera, T. M. (2018, June), Board 22: Work in Progress: Improving Biomedical Engineering Student Technical Writing through Rubrics and Lab Report Re-submissions Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29986

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