New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
June 29, 2016
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Educational Research and Methods
Communication across Divisions: Trends Emerging from Papers Presented at the 2015 Annual Conference of ASEE
Since the early twentieth century, communication has been a pervasive concern and common interest of engineering educators. At the 2015 Annual Conference of the ASEE, 31 papers dealt with some aspect of communication. Six sessions were devoted entirely to communication, four in the Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division (LEES), and one each in Chemical Engineering and Educational Research Methods. There was also one sponsored technical session devoted to communication. There were thirteen divisions other than LEES that had at least one paper on communication in their program or co-sponsored a session on communication.
These numbers provide evidence of a common interest in engineering communication, but they also reflect the fragmentation of the scholarly conversation. The paper proposed here seeks to create some coherence in that conversation while at the same time highlighting the diversity of approaches and range of expertise that are relevant to research and teaching in engineering communication. Specifically, it uses papers presented at the 2015 annual conference as its evidence base. As the numbers above suggest, we have already conducted some quantitative analysis of the papers. We have also begun qualitative analysis of trends such as these:
1. A pervasive tendency toward quantification of the effectiveness of various teaching strategies, usually called “interventions.” Most of the studies reported at the conference are in the early stages of implementation with limited data sets that tend to show limited impact. Three areas in particular merit attention: a. The difficulty of measuring the outcomes we are really interested in, for example, the kinds and numbers of comments students make in peer critique versus the kinds of changes that students actually make in response to comments. b. A reliance on course evaluations and other forms of student self-reporting, as opposed to using the students’ performance and work products as evidence. c. Tenuous connections between the data gathered and conclusions reached, or conclusions so general that they are not very useful and not easily distinguished from the assumptions that underlie the instructional strategy. 2. A tremendous among of effort being devoted to the creation of rubrics for the evaluation of student work. Rubrics are a standard component of evaluation and a key link in the feedback loop through which assessment improves instruction. The papers presented at the 2015 Annual Conference suggest the following opportunities and challenges: a. The opportunity to share rubrics and knowledge about how to create and validate them. To what extent does the value of a rubric derive from what instructors articulate and discover in the process of developing the rubric? Can rubrics be transferred easily from one context to another? b. The challenges created by i. Adequately capturing the complexity of what constitutes effective communication ii. Creating cognitive overload by providing too much detail iii. Moving from the specific characteristics of strength in a particular assignment to the generalization that allows students to transfer knowledge from one assignment to another
The paper will provide a comprehensive view of the trends emerging from last year’s conference papers on communication. Having a clear view of these trends should create a focus for discussion and information exchange among the broad community engaged in researching and teaching engineering communication. It should also help establish priorities for further research and institutional investments.
Neeley, K. A., & Norback, J. S. (2016, June), Communication Across Divisions: Overview, Trends, and Implications Based on the ASEE 2015 Conference Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26517
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