Asee peer logo

Board 27: Work in Progress: The Use of Scaffolding and Peer Reviews to Improve Effective Writing Skills in Biomedical Engineers

Download Paper |


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

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


C. LaShan Simpson Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Simpson received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Clemson University. Her doctoral research focused on developing cell therapy treatments for vascular calcification. Her research interests were in targeted therapies and she strengthened her polymer expertise during her postdoctoral training at Rice University. Her postdoctoral work focused on injectable gene therapy for bone grafting. As an independent researcher, her work is focused on vascular calcification and related co-morbidities including end stage renal disease. She is developing therapies to maintain serum mineral balance in kidney disease patients and to prevent vascular calcification. She is also focused on understanding the phenomenon of phenotypic switching of native smooth muscle cells into osteoblast-like cells in calcified arteries and developing intervention therapies to prevent this switch. She began her faculty position at Mississippi State University in 2013. Dr. Simpson is dedicated to enhancing the educational experience of her students. She strives to provide the most holistic classroom environment. Dr. Simpson is beginning to develop her education research endeavors.

visit author page


Ed Dechert Mississippi State University

visit author page

Ed Dechert is an assessment coordinator in the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at Mississippi State University. He works with departments on creating and measuring meaningful student learning and program goals. He also works with faculty to implement effective writing assignments. Before working with OIRE, he taught Technical Writing for Engineers for the Bagley College of Engineering at MSU.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Exceling at soft skills remain an Achilles heel for engineers with written communication continuing to be the weakest of them all. Most engineering students only experience writing during their curriculums in English Composition, Technical Writing, and End-of-Semester term papers that rarely receive feedback. We aimed to teach our students to be more effective writers in a senior-level problem-based learning course titled Biomedical Materials.

First, we recognized the importance of equipping instructors with skills to effectively train students to improve their writing. The course instructor was enrolled in an intensive three-week summer course facilitated by the university’s quality enhancement program: Maroon and Write. Through this course, the instructor learned the importance of writing as a process and not product, conveying clear instructions to the students with an anticipated audience and rubric detailed, as well as the importance of scaffolding writing assignments to allow multiple edits.

Secondly, the knowledge gained by the instructor was used to implement new initiatives in the Biomedical Materials course. Prior to this semester, students (groups of four) were given one month to design a problem solution and write a research proposal. Writing scaffolding was incorporated into the course by assigning two smaller individual writing assignments related to each problem prior to the final research proposal. Peer-Reviews were used after the second writing assignment, 2-page individual mini-proposal, to assist with the construction of the final group proposal. We will perform formative and summative assessments to analyze the effect of the course advancements on student performance and effective writing skills.

Simpson, C. L., & Dechert, E. (2018, June), Board 27: Work in Progress: The Use of Scaffolding and Peer Reviews to Improve Effective Writing Skills in Biomedical Engineers Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29996

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