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Developing Communication Competence: A Comparison Of The Intensive Capstone Experience And Developmental Integration

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Writing and Communication I: Innovative Models for Curriculum and Assessment

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.492.1 - 12.492.14



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Paper Authors


April Kedrowicz University of Utah

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April A. Kedrowicz, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Engineering Leadership at the University of Utah. Dr. Kedrowicz received her BA and MS degrees in Organizational Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah.

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

Developing Communication Competence: Assessment of the Intensive Capstone Experience and Incremental Integration


With the advent of ABET’s EC 2000, much focus has been placed on equipping engineering students with the necessary professional skills to be effective in the workplace.1-3 As such, research highlights various approaches to teaching students how to communicate (write, speak, and work in teams) effectively.4-5 One primary method through which to facilitate communication skill development includes an emphasis on integrating communication into an introductory and/or capstone engineering course. 6-8 While this approach to teaching technical communication to engineering students does in fact meet the objectives of EC 2000, concentrating the development of communication competence in a capstone course is inadequate. That is, in order for engineering students to be professionally as well as technically competent, they must be continually exposed to communication integration in the classroom throughout their student career.

The CLEAR (Communication, Leadership, Ethics, And Research) approach to improving engineering education involves integrated and developmental communication instruction, through collaboration between the Colleges of Humanities and Engineering. The goal is to prepare engineering undergraduates to occupy positions of leadership in organizations through improving their oral and written communication, teamwork skills, and ethical understanding. This college-wide program is integrated, in that students learn these professional skills in their required, core engineering courses. Further, the program is developmental in that students are exposed to basic level skills in the freshman year and gradually progress to sophisticated skills at the senior level. In other words, rather than teach students formal and informal communication skills in a required technical communication course, we teach students through and about communication in their engineering courses. This not only enables students to learn discipline- specific knowledge, it also facilitates learning of engineering material through speaking and writing about current engineering topics. The advantages of this program are numerous, including: 1) improving students’ communication (oral, written, and interpersonal) and thus, satisfying ABET’s call for improved undergraduate engineering education; 2) enhancing students’ learning of the engineering material; 3) teaching students about the discipline of engineering and the communication conventions associated with it; 4) demonstrating the interconnectedness of communication and engineering; 5) socializing students (i.e., preparing them to be engineering professionals); and 6) fostering relationships across colleges.

This college-wide initiative is made possible through a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as contributions from both the Colleges of Humanities and Engineering. The structure is such that graduate students from Communication and the University Writing program work with engineering faculty to (re)design curriculum, lecture, provide individual assistance to students, and provide evaluations of students’ communication performance. This interdisciplinary partnership is effective because both engineering and communication expertise is represented. Although the exact structure varies from department to department dependent

Kedrowicz, A. (2007, June), Developing Communication Competence: A Comparison Of The Intensive Capstone Experience And Developmental Integration Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1583

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