Salt Lake City, Utah
June 20, 2004
June 20, 2004
June 23, 2004
9.581.1 - 9.581.5
Emerging Trends Session 1793
Engineering Student Writing Shortcomings and Remediation Strategies Stephanie Nelson, Ph.D. College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology California State University, Los Angeles 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, CA 90032
Abstract — Engineering student reports for senior term projects were evaluated from the three engineering disciplines taught at California State University Los Angeles: Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical/Computer Engineering. The reports were evaluated for organization, completeness, clarity, grammar and punctuation, and understanding of documentation conventions for the disciplines. While assignments as well as findings vary per discipline, there are enough commonalities in terms of the weaknesses that the findings as well as related recommendations are presented for the all engineering students. Three pedagogical approaches can bring significant improvements to the writing products produced by these students: assigning jointly written reports, providing training on documentation conventions for professional reports, and requiring students to draft early and undergo multiple peer reviews and revisions.
Index Terms Engineering writing, engineering writing pedagogy.
Introduction The most recent ABET visit to Cal State L.A. resulted in an assessment that the writing skills of our engineering students needed to be improved. In order to develop writing improvement strategies for our engineering students, I evaluated student papers from the three engineering disciplines taught at the university: Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. I evaluated three sets of student reports from the three disciplines: a research paper from ECE (N=9), group-authored senior design reports from CE (N = 8), and senior design reports from ME (N=11). Although the number of reports I examined was relatively small, I have taught technical writing to engineering students at our university for more than eight years, and I found the reports I examined to be typical of engineering student writing. Cal State L.A. is an urban university with one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. This diversity is reflected in the engineering department. Specifically, non-native English speakers comprise more than three-quarters of the engineering student population.
The reports were evaluated for organization, completeness, clarity, grammar and punctuation, and understanding of documentation conventions for the disciplines. While assignments as well as my findings vary per discipline, there are enough commonalities in terms of the weaknesses that the findings as well as related recommendations are discussed first for all three engineering disciplines. More specific teaching approaches are then recommended, and finally specific recommendations are offered regarding the writing assignments for each discipline.
Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education
Nelson, S. (2004, June), Evaluation Of Engineering Student Writing Shortcomings And Remediation Recommendations Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/13666
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