June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.486.1 - 12.486.18
DEVELOPING AN ENGINEERING WRITING HANDBOOK – A CASE STUDY
Effective written communication is one of the most important skills an engineer can have. Yet, growing numbers of undergraduate students leave first-year composition courses without the skills, self-discipline and strategies to write effectively. This is especially troublesome for engineering students as they transition to the writing skills and styles appropriate to engineering at the same time as they struggle to improve their fundamental writing skills. In an effort to develop the writing skills of engineering undergraduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the Electrical Engineering and Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering programs have developed a close collaboration with the USCGA writing center.
Initially this collaboration focused on how instructors could improve their grading and instruction of writing within engineering courses. As the relationship matured, focus was shifted to the importance of educating the writing center staff on the unique attributes of engineering writing as well as the engineering-specific writing skills expected of students by faculty. Unable to locate a writing guide that specifically met our undergraduate engineering needs, the writing center and Engineering faculty developed a handbook that outlines an effective engineering writing process and style for students, faculty, and writing center tutors.
This paper provides an overview of the challenges the authors have experienced teaching writing within engineering courses and the benefits of collaboration with the writing center. Justification for the development of an engineering writing handbook includes: helping engineering students make the transition from first-year expository writing to upper level technical writing; orienting new faculty to institutional writing conventions; and clarifying expectations for engineering writing among students, faculty, and the existing pool of cross-disciplinary writing center tutors. Importantly, the engineering writing handbook provides a standard that ideally can be applied across all USCGA engineering courses. It thereby reduces the displacement of classroom content resulting from the need to provide extensive writing instruction in each course. Development of the handbook, recent internal applications, its status, and the possible application of USCGA experiences to other programs are discussed.
Effective written communication is one of the most important skills an engineer can have. Yet undergraduate students generally leave first-year composition courses without the strategies, skills and self-discipline to write effectively within the engineering disciplines. While all writing has an audience, purpose, form, conventions and style, readers in the humanities may expect to see a narrative expressed with active verbs, diction that appeals to emotions, as well as literary meaning subject to interpretation. By sharp contrast, readers in engineering fields expect straightforward information concisely and unemotionally expressed in passive verbs and clear
Jernquist, K., & Godfrey, D., & Taylor, T. (2007, June), Developing An Engineering Writing Handbook – A Case Study Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2134
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