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Developing An Engineering Writing Handbook – A Case Study

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Conference

2007 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Writing and Communication II: Practical Perspectives on Teaching and Assessment

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

12.486.1 - 12.486.18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/2134

Download Count

40

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Paper Authors

biography

Kathleen Jernquist U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Kathleen Jernquist is the director of the Cadet Writing and Reading Center at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). She earned her M.A. in the Teaching of Writing at Middlebury College and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Brown University.
Address: U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Cadet Writing and Reading Center (dar), 27 Mohegan Ave., New London, CT 06320; telephone: 860-701-6354; fax: 860-444-8516; e-mail: kjernquist@exmail.uscga.edu

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biography

David Godfrey U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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David Godfrey, MSEE, PE, is an Assistant Professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) Address: U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Department of Engineering (dee), 27 Mohegan Ave., New London, CT 06320-8101; telephone: 860-444-8536; fax: 860-444-8546; e-mail: dgodfrey@exmail.uscga.edu

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biography

Todd Taylor U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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Todd Taylor is an Associate Professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) and is the head of the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering major. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with M.S. (Ocean Engineering, 1993) and Ph.D. (Hydrodynamics, 1996) degrees .

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

DEVELOPING AN ENGINEERING WRITING HANDBOOK – A CASE STUDY

Abstract

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.

Introduction

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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