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Experiments in the Communication Lab: Adaptations of the Comm Lab Model in Three Institutions

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Endeavors: Engineering and Liberal Arts

Tagged Divisions

Multidisciplinary Engineering and Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

20

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32799

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32799

Download Count

116

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Paper Authors

biography

Sarah Summers Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Sarah Summers earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from Penn State University and joined the RHIT faculty in 2014. Her work focused on writing in the disciplines, particularly at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels. She teaches courses in writing and engineering communication, including technical and professional communication, intercultural communication, digital writing, and grant writing.

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Anique Julienne Olivier-Mason Brandeis University

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Dr. Anique Olivier-Mason launched the Brandeis Science Communication Lab in the Fall of 2017 and is its program director in addition to her role as the Director of Education, Outreach and Diversity of the Brandeis Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). Anique attended the 2017 MIT Communication Lab Summer Institute and was inspired to bring their model of a discipline-specific peer-coaching program to Brandeis. Anique’s dedication to science communication stems from her drive to improve scientific literacy by lowering unnecessary barriers that prevent people from engaging in science and engineering. As a bench-trained scientist, she has taught many courses including Responsible Conduct of Research ethics, the MIT Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program (KTCP) course, and undergraduate genetics. She believes in the power of peer-coaching as a method of improving an entire community’s ability to communicate effectively.

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Marina Dang Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Dr. Marina Dang holds a PhD in Chemistry from Brandeis University, where she also served as an instructor for the Science Posse Boot Camp program. She taught chemistry at Emmanuel College and later became a STEM curriculum developer for an educational startup. In 2014, she joined the MIT Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering to serve as its first Communication Lab manager. As the Communication Lab model spread to new departments and institutions, she helped meet scalability needs by leading the creation of a training curriculum for all new peer tutors, and was one of the original architects of the Communication Lab Summer Institute.

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Diana M. Chien Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3297-3312

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Dr. Diana Chien holds a PhD in Microbiology from MIT, and leads the MIT School of Engineering Communication Lab. Since 2013, she has coached, taught, and designed educational resources at multiple levels of the organization, including previous roles as a peer Communication Fellow, as the Biological Engineering Communication Lab manager, and as a Communication Instructor for undergraduate engineering courses. She is the co-founder of the CommKit, the Communication Lab's free online collection of discipline-specific guides to technical and professional communication. She is dedicated to promoting peer-to-peer professional development experiences for scientists and engineers.

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Abstract

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 [1] [2] [3]. 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 [4]. 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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