Asee peer logo

Board 27: Improving Student Writing with Research-based Instruction: Results from the Civil Engineering Writing Project

Download Paper |

Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29995

Download Count

47

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Susan Conrad Portland State University

visit author page

Susan Conrad, Professor of Applied Linguistics, is the head of the Civil Engineering Writing Project, in which engineering faculty, engineering practitioners, and writing specialists collaborate to improve writing instruction in civil engineering courses. She has written numerous articles and books about English grammar, discourse, and corpus linguistics.

visit author page

biography

Timothy James Pfeiffer P.E. Foundation Engineering, Inc.

visit author page

Mr. Pfeiffer is a senior engineer and manager at Foundation Engineering in Portland, Oregon.

visit author page

biography

Kenneth Lamb P.E., Ph.D California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

visit author page

Kenneth is an Assistant Professor at Cal Poly Pomona. Kenneth is a licensed Professional Engineer in Nevada with experience working on a variety of water, storm water, and waster water systems projects. He holds degrees from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (BSCE and PhD) and from Norwich University (MCE).

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

This poster presentation will provide an overview of the cycle of research and teaching used in the Civil Engineering Writing Project to improve students' preparation for writing in the workplace. Our goal is to improve students’ writing by integrating writing instruction into existing courses and assignments, rather than through major curriculum changes, so that new instruction can be implemented more easily and quickly. The project received funding through the Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) program. Although the project focuses on civil engineering, the model is adaptable to any STEM discipline.

In the first phase of the project, we analyzed student writing and effective practitioner writing. We worked with engineers in industry to identify the features of student writing that would be most problematic in engineering practice. In the second phase of the project, we designed teaching materials targeted at the problems, piloted the materials at four universities, and analyzed new student writing to assess the impact of the materials.

In particular, the poster will emphasize the assessment measures and results. We conduct four types of assessment measures: linguistic analyses (analyzing the frequency and effectiveness of features such as active/passive voice use, word choices, and sentence structure); genre analyses (assessing organization and content sequencing); errors in grammar and mechanics (frequency and gravity of errors); and holistic evaluations of effectiveness (as judged by an engineering practitioner). We also gather data about student reactions with surveys and interviews. Materials have been piloted in over 20 courses at 4 universities, and results have been positive for all assessment measures. Student comments demonstrate, in particular, that the new materials stimulate many students to reassess misconceptions they have about writing in engineering and that the students appreciate seeing examples of effective practitioner writing.

The poster will exemplify some of the changes we have seen in student writing and student reactions. It will also highlight the need for collaboration among engineering faculty, engineering practitioners, and writing specialists to make a project such as this successful.

Conrad, S., & Pfeiffer, T. J., & Lamb, K. (2018, June), Board 27: Improving Student Writing with Research-based Instruction: Results from the Civil Engineering Writing Project Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29995

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: © 2018 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