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Classification Of The Written Reports Used In Experimental Engineering

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.144.1 - 5.144.11



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Sheldon M. Jeter

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Jeffrey A. Donnell

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1566

Classification of the Written Reports Used in Experimental Engineering

Sheldon M. Jeter and Jeffrey A. Donnell

Georgia Institute of Technology

INTRODUCTION Laboratory instructors strive continuously to improve the writing of undergraduate lab reports, and success requires a communal effort by several instructors and many students. To allow coordinated instruction, the faculty must define the learning objectives and agree on a common instructional strategy. Students can then be guided in a consistent fashion toward proficient technical writing. This guidance should include a manual incorporating a uniform writing standard that represents industrial and academic practice. Instruction can then refer to a single consensus standard. Consistent grading and feedback based on this standard can then reinforce the instruction. However, the instruction cannot be planned, nor the writing standard be developed without a practical objective. The practical objective is the kind of technical writing and production quality that fits the needs of the curriculum and professional practice and that can be expected from undergraduates. The objective is defined in terms of representative report types and the corresponding contents, formats, and production qualities. Without such a common and well defined objective, successive instructors will waste time and frustrate the students by presenting and requiring report types and production qualities that differ only marginally from the consensus standards while generating continual confusion.

In learning report writing, the student learns a process. The student’s objective is proficiency in the process of efficient preparation of effective technical reports. In learning a process, a functional description of the ultimate acceptable product is almost essential if proficiency is to be achieved. An effective report is one that is complete, concise, and convincing in the communication of technical information. The presentation should be orderly, and the format should be familiar and reassuring to the reader. A key component of the description of the product is a classification of the types of reports that engineers are likely to produce. Once the types are identified, it is straightforward to define standards for format and production qualities that represent typical academic and professional practice.

Definition of a few comprehensive report types will also alleviate an objection that is one of the most persistent obstacles to an orderly process of instruction in report writing. Since very many report types exist in practice, it is objected that requiring only one type is in the curriculum is improper. Consequently, it becomes unnecessarily difficult to teach report writing because the instruction cannot be consistent and reinforced. To overcome this objection, it is demonstrated that all practical report types are mere variations on a very few general types and that these types can be taught and practiced within one curriculum. The ancillary objection that format, styles,


Jeter, S. M., & Donnell, J. A. (2000, June), Classification Of The Written Reports Used In Experimental Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8206

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