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Enhancement of Students’ Technical Writing through a Combination of Classroom Activities

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Reihaneh Jamshidi University of Hartford

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Reihaneh Jamshidi is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. Her teaching focuses on materials science, mechanics of materials, and mechanical engineering design. Reihaneh’s primary research interests are design, manufacturing, characterization, and mechanics of soft materials and structures.

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Kamau Wright University of Hartford

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Kamau Wright is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Hartford. He specializes in thermo-fluids and plasma engineering. His technical research interests include applications of high voltage plasma discharges to liquids and wastewaters; plasma decomposition of carbon dioxide; fouling prevention and mitigation for heat exchangers; oxidation of organic matter in water; and inactivation of bacteria using high voltage plasmas.

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Paul E. Slaboch University of Hartford Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Slaboch is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering University of Hartford. His main research areas are experimental fluid mechanics with a focus on vortical flows and aircraft wake turbulence.

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The present study reports on strategies to improve engineering students’ technical writing skills. The focus of the study is a sophomore level Mechanical Engineering Materials Lab course dealing with experiments on mechanical properties for which students are required to write group reports. Since the main focus of the course has been on the technical aspects, emphasis on writing has typically occurred only at the very beginning of the course, or as part of the feedback process for each lab report. While these elements are crucial, the present study sought to further develop students’ technical writing skills throughout the semester by introducing a three-part strategy: (1) Focused instruction time – Allocating select times throughout the semester to focus on one section of lab report; (2) Reviewing samples as a group – determining which samples or attributes of samples were effective or ineffective; and (3) Peer review – Students reviewed each other’s lab reports and gave feedback. The goal of focused instructional time and reviewing samples was to allow students to improve their writing skills by focusing on one section of lab report at a time, and thus learning the writing techniques more effectively. The peer-review part of the strategy was designed to draw students’ close attention to quality of writing and increase their motivation to further develop writing skills. Students’ lab reports were collected and evaluated using a rubric to assess the impact of the new teaching strategies on their technical writing skills. The other means of assessment was surveys conducted at the beginning and the end of the semester (pre and post surveys) to assess: (1) students’ confidence in their technical writing skills; (2) students’ ability to identify elements of a good writing; (3) students’ confidence in assessing the quality of a technical writing; and (4) students’ feeling about the impact of the new strategies.

Jamshidi, R., & Wright, K., & Slaboch, P. E. (2020, June), Enhancement of Students’ Technical Writing through a Combination of Classroom Activities Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34567

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