June 28, 1998
June 28, 1998
July 1, 1998
3.194.1 - 3.194.7
Designing the Report Process
Nancy L. Denton, P.E. Purdue University
ABSTRACT Written communication constitutes a key component in the education and future success of an engineering technologist. Developing skill in technical report writing requires practice coupled with timely, thorough feedback. At Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, the sophomore level course in strength of materials provides the core venue for this practice and feedback for mechanical engineering technology (MET) students. Such report writing demands a significant time investment from each student. The instructor makes a similar time commitment to adequately provide timely thorough feedback for each laboratory report during the semester.
The author has undertaken an experiment to determine if concurrent engineering practices can be successfully adapted to design an optimal writing/grading process which remains consistent with accreditation requirements regarding written communications. The resulting writing/grading process is explained and its successes and failures documented below. The experiment is discussed in the context of the continuous improvement process in place for the author’s department, an additional accreditation requirement for engineering technology programs.
BACKGROUND 1997-98 accreditation criteria published by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (TAC of ABET) require instruction in written communications and practice in subsequent technical courses, as well as evidence that said writing is reviewed and evaluated as part of student technical work.1 Technical writing is valued for its role in developing logical thought, as a communication tool, and as a necessity in industry. Numerous approaches to instruction and practice in technical writing have been documented, from the traditional laboratory and project report to more innovative use of personal journals and other forms of writing across the curriculum.2-6 The Purdue MET Department follows a relatively traditional model for writing instruction. Students must complete a freshman level composition course; multiple writing assignments are given in a majority of the required and nearly all elective MET courses; and two additional technical writing courses are required for upper division students.
Among courses taught by MET faculty, the students’ most extensive writing practice and evaluation come in the sophomore level strength of materials course. The laboratory portion of the course currently consists of ten sessions; with formal reports required for four experiments and memorandum reports required for four additional experiments. In-class activities are graded for the two remaining sessions. The required formats for the formal and memorandum reports are listed in Table 1, as well as the point allotment for each graded report section. The core sections are identical for both report types. The resume’ section
Denton, N. L. (1998, June), Designing The Report Process Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/7025
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