Asee peer logo

Convincing Students That Writing Is Important

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.325.1 - 8.325.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Audeen Fentiman

Download Paper |

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

Session 2793

Convincing Students That Writing Is Important

Audeen W. Fentiman The Ohio State University


Students are accustomed to writing essays and reports for only one audience: teachers whose job it is to read and grade the papers. When the paper is assigned, the uppermost question in most students’ minds is, “How long does it have to be?” Students generally don’t think about how to entice someone to read the paper or what information they want to convey to the audience. The intended audience (i.e. the teacher) must read the paper, and there is no penalty for producing an unremarkable, even useless, paper that is technically, structurally, and grammatically correct.

On the job, a person’s writing will be evaluated using a much different standard. Laboratory reports may be used to replicate experiments essential to a company’s success. Millions of dollars in contract funding could be awarded or denied based on the quality of a written proposal or a “Phase I” report. Professionals must understand the needs of their audiences, put themselves in the audience’s place, and provide the required information in a useful format.

Teachers tell students how important it is to provide what the reader needs. But students typically fail to grasp this concept. Most of them have no experience writing with the purpose of communicating essential information. An assignment that helps students focus on the needs of the readers has been designed for a high school Introduction to Engineering class. In this assignment, teams of 4 students spend ten weeks designing, building, testing, and documenting a product that meets specifications provided by course instructors. One team’s (Team B’s) final report is given to another team (Team A) that has not seen the finished product. Using the report, Team A must build Team B’s product and then critique the report, indicating how it could be revised to make it more useful to the reader.

This paper will supply some background on the Introduction to Engineering course and the project for which the report was written. Details will be provided on the assignment, how it was graded, and how it was received by the students.

High School Introduction to Engineering Course

Introduction to Engineering is a 2-course sequence recently developed for beginning engineering students at The Ohio State University. The ultimate goal of the college level course sequence was to increase the number of engineering students who were retained in the discipline through graduation. The course was quite successful in that regard, and faculty members were curious about whether Introduction to Engineering might be effective in encouraging women and minority students to study engineering if it were offered to a more diverse group of students. An urban high school would have such a population.

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Fentiman, A. (2003, June), Convincing Students That Writing Is Important Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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: © 2003 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