June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Experiments in the Communication Lab: Adaptations of the Comm Lab Model in Three Institutions
Across engineering and science disciplines, individual schools and programs are searching for ways to better support science and engineering students as writers and communicators   . Despite rich accounts of these interventions, it is difficult to imagine how to implement them in different institutional contexts. In this paper, we analyze the adaptation of one such intervention, the Communication Lab (Comm Lab), a peer-to-peer coaching resource for writing, presenting, and other forms of technical communication . By analyzing three institutions’ iterations of a Comm Lab, we argue that a balance between core pedagogical strategies and attention to client needs makes the Comm Lab model both identifiable across institutions and flexible enough to adapt to new institutional contexts. For example, the client-based model relies on using peers with disciplinary expertise to ensure quality feedback. However, the definitions of “peer” and “disciplinary expertise” become more multidisciplinary across institutions according to the student population, the director’s background, and the Lab’s goals.
We first describe three iterations of the Comm Lab: 1) a private research university’s consortium of several department-specific Comm Labs, 2) a private research university’s centralized Comm Lab for their Division of Science, and 3) an undergraduate-only STEM institution’s centralized Comm Lab for students using a multidisciplinary, co-curricular space. We then analyze these adaptations alongside institutional data, client population, and client feedback to articulate three considerations for adapting an educational innovation based on disciplinary and institutional needs: disciplinary breadth, scale, and institutional fit. We conclude by sharing data on the success of the Comm Labs as well as considering the value of cross-institutional collaboration.
Summers, S., & Olivier-Mason, A. J., & Dang, M., & Chien, D. M. (2019, June), Experiments in the Communication Lab: Adaptations of the Comm Lab Model in Three Institutions Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32799
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