June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.304.1 - 13.304.9
Communication Instruction in an Engineering Introductory Statistics Course #2008-2847
Abstract At Georgia Tech, instruction in communication has been incorporated into the introductory statistics class for undergraduate engineers. Communication instruction focuses on presentations to workforce professionals—clients, executives, and engineers. The communication instruction is based on interviews conducted with engineers, supervisors, and senior executives whose companies employ many engineers. Students worked in small project teams to formulate hypotheses about a set of data and to select the appropriate statistical method to evaluate the data. Student teams presented their projects at the end of the semester. In preparation for project presentation, students received workforce presentation instruction in class and in a Workforce Communication Lab set up for video review, storyboarding, presentation practice, and feedback. Assessment data focuses on student needs expressed prior to instruction and benefits described after instruction, and the value of instructional components. Examples of projects and instructional materials will be provided so the instruction can be replicated at other institutions.
Over the past decade, multiple studies have indicated the need for better communication skills for engineers [1-5]. Studies have also identified, more specifically, the importance of oral presentation skills to the advancement of engineers in the workplace [6,7]. As recently as 2007, students’ definitions of excellence in engineering education included communication skills .
In 2004, one study reported that, of 73 top-ranked U.S. and Canadian engineering schools surveyed about communication instruction for engineers, 33 percent reported integrating instruction “in which communication specialists and engineering professors collaborate . Many schools have integrated the instruction with various engineering courses, particularly the Capstone Design course [10-16].
Student projects and communication skills instruction have already become a part of some introductory statistics courses. Projects have been included for a long time [17-20], even as far back as the 1970’s . Some statistics professors have recently stressed the importance of communication skills to statistics undergraduates. In 2002, in a summary of six papers presented in a symposium focused on the importance of undergraduate statistics education (“Improving the Work Force of the Future: Opportunities in Undergraduate Statistics Education,”) one author wrote “the ability to communicate effectively is as important to the success of a bachelor’s level statistician as knowledge of the principle statistical methods in a field.”. In some universities professors have added an oral communication component to their course for undergraduates [e.g.,23] . Others have added similar instruction to graduate statistics courses .
In this study, communication instruction focused on presentation skills was integrated into the Stewart School of ISyE at Georgia Tech Basic Statistical Methods course as a pilot project in 2006 and then during the Fall of 2007. This paper focuses on the results from 2007. To the best of our knowledge, the approach is unique in the following ways:
Norback, J., & Serban, N., & Gebraeel, N., & Forehand, G. (2008, June), Communication Instruction In An Engineering Introductory Statistics Course Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4455
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