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Development and Assessment of an Innovative Program to Integrate Communication Skills into Engineering Curricula

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Conference

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Creating and Maintaining Effective Communication Learning in the Curriculum

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

21

Page Numbers

23.409.1 - 23.409.21

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/19423

Download Count

37

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Paper Authors

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Warren N. Waggenspack Jr. Louisiana State University

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Dr. Warren N. Waggenspack, Jr. is currently the associate dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering and holder of the Ned Adler Professorship in Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University. He obtained both his baccalaureate and master’s degrees from LSU ME and his doctorate from Purdue University’s School of Mechanical Engineering. He has been actively engaged in teaching, research and curricula development since joining the LSU faculty in 1988. As associate dean, he has acquired funding from NSF to support the development of several initiatives aimed at improving student retention and graduation rates as well as supporting faculty with development with effective learning and teaching pedagogies.

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Sarah Liggett Louisiana State University

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Warren R Hull Sr. P.E. Louisiana State University

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Warren R. Hull, Sr. is the Engineering Communication Studio Manager at Louisiana State University. He earned a B.S. from Louisiana State University and an M.S. from Harvard University. He is a licensed professional engineer whose engineering career spans over 40 years. Prior to joining LSU, Hull was a senior partner with an international engineering firm. He was also a career U.S. Air Force officer, retiring in the rank of Colonel.

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David Bowles Louisiana State University

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David "Boz" Bowles is a technical communication instructor in the Engineering Communication Studio at Louisiana State University. He earned a baccalaureate degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Paige Davis Louisiana State University

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Abstract

Development and Assessment of an Innovative Program to Integrate Communication Skills into Engineering CurriculaAbstractIn 2005, a pilot for a campus-wide program, Communication across the Curriculum (CxC), wasinitiated in the College of Engineering with the goal of integrating communication requirementsinto various curricula. A core element of this program was the designation of courses asCommunication Intensive (C-I) provided they satisfied several communication-specific criteria.Foremost among the criteria were the use of informal communication to enhance learning andformal communication to publicly share ideas, the use of a draft-feedback-revision feedbackloop, and a requirement that at least 40% of the course grade be based on communication-specific assignments.Recognizing that these criteria could be challenging to implement, especially in capstone andlaboratory courses, program administrators developed periodic discipline-specific workshops, anannual Faculty Summer Institute, and a professionally staffed, discipline-specific communicationstudio. These resources and how they evolved are illustrated using sample innovativecommunication assignments. Faculty commitment has grown to the point that we can nowreport that all engineering disciplines have certified C-I courses or labs as a part of their capstoneexperiences.Student interest was enhanced by establishing criteria for attaining a DistinguishedCommunicator certification to be awarded at graduation and noted on the students’ transcripts.Since many of the introductory engineering courses have been designated as C-I, students soonappreciate the importance of communication skills in their academic work and professionalfutures. They also become aware of the opportunity for achieving the DistinguishedCommunicator certification. With successful integration of CxC throughout the engineeringcurricula, it is no coincidence that engineering students are disproportionately represented amongthe Distinguished Communicators in all the disciplines on campus.Multiple methods have been instituted to assess the success of this program: • An Engineering Communication Advisory Council to review the program objectives and provide recommendations for enhancements. • An analysis comparing the required resource investment against the historical reliance upon a technical writing course to develop engineering students’ communication skills. • A survey of faculty teaching C-I courses showing that technical content did not suffer when instruction related to communication skills was incorporated, and in fact was enhanced by this teaching mode. • C-I course student surveys, in which responses were overwhelmingly positiveThese assessments, as well as their implications for the future, are examined and discussed indetail.

Waggenspack, W. N., & Liggett, S., & Hull, W. R., & Bowles, D., & Davis, P. (2013, June), Development and Assessment of an Innovative Program to Integrate Communication Skills into Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19423

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