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Effective “Writing To Communicate” Experiences In Electrical Engineering Courses

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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

New Trends in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

11

Page Numbers

12.582.1 - 12.582.11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1774

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

biography

Susan Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Associate Professor and Coordinator of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, as well as feminist and liberative pedagogies. Dr. Lord served as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education Conference. She has been awarded an NSF CAREER and ILI grants. Dr. Lord’s industrial experience includes AT&T Bell Laboratories, General Motors Laboratories, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and SPAWAR Systems Center.

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

Effective “Writing to Communicate” Experiences in Electrical Engineering Courses

Abstract To help develop essential communication skills that engineering graduates need, engineering faculty must find ways to incorporate writing into the curriculum. There have been reports of impressive work integrating writing centers or technical communication professionals with engineering courses. However, most engineering programs do not have access to such resources. Writing has been effectively integrated into many senior design courses. Nevertheless, students’ skills would be further developed if writing were included throughout the undergraduate engineering curriculum. But how can electrical engineering faculty do this? Research reported in the literature describes constructivist and knowledge transformation frameworks of how writing helps build knowledge in the sciences. Building on these theories, successful writing experiences in engineering are “writing to communicate” rather than “writing to learn”. This paper highlights several key aspects of integrating effective “writing to communicate” experience into undergraduate electrical engineering courses by an engineering professor in a practical way. These aspects include authentic investigation, motivation for communication, tying the writing to the technical content, a well-defined audience, providing useful practice for an engineering career, and not being overly burdensome to the engineering faculty instructor. Specific examples, student response, and lessons learned from activities in sophomore-level Circuits, junior-level Electronics and a senior-level elective on Optoelectronics are presented.

1. Introduction To help develop essential communication skills that engineering graduates need, engineering faculty must find ways to incorporate writing into the curriculum. There have been reports of impressive work integrating writing centers or technical communication professionals with engineering courses.1, 2, 3 However, most engineering programs do not have access to such resources. Writing has been effectively integrated into most senior design courses. Nevertheless, students’ skills would be further developed if writing were included throughout the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Giving students many opportunities to demonstrate their “ability to communicate effectively” (ABET 3g) is desirable. But how can electrical engineering faculty do this?

Research reported in the literature describes constructivist and knowledge transformation frameworks of how writing helps build knowledge in the sciences. Building on these theories, successful writing experiences in engineering are “writing to communicate” rather than “writing to learn”. In Section 2, this paper briefly describes these theories and then presents six guidelines for integrating effective “writing to communicate” experience into undergraduate electrical engineering courses by an engineering professor in a practical way. These guidelines include authentic investigation, motivation for communication, tying the writing to the technical content, a well-defined audience, providing useful practice for an engineering career, and not being overly burdensome to the engineering faculty instructor. In Section 3, specific examples from sophomore-level Circuits, junior-level Electronics and a senior-level elective on Optoelectronics are presented. These are intended to serve as representative examples of

Lord, S. (2007, June), Effective “Writing To Communicate” Experiences In Electrical Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1774

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