June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.665.1 - 11.665.8
Georgia Tech IE Workforce Communication: Comparing Senior Design Students’ Audience Analyses to their Clients’ Self-Descriptions
More engineering colleges and universities are working on enhancing student communication skills, especially since ABET 2000 requirements. At the ASEE 2005 Annual Conference and Exposition; Norback, McNair, and Forehand reported on a workforce-based educational tool for use in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) Senior Design courses. The tool was designed to help members of student project teams analyze their audience for their project-related communications.
To enhance our understanding of the students’ analyses, in this study we investigated how the students’ perceptions of characteristics of audience members compare with the self-descriptions of the audience members. During a recent ISyE Senior Design class, we obtained self-descriptions from clients who played significant roles in the projects. In addition, we obtained student perceptions of these same clients at three different stages of the project. In this report we compare the student perceptions with the client self- descriptions. We examine similarities and differences. The variables examined are based on interviews with industrial engineers, supervisors, and senior executives in companies employing industrial engineers. They include the main client contact’s role, understanding of the problem, and specific expectations for the student team. In addition we will examine the differences in perspective that give rise to similarities and differences. Then we identify implications for the development of student communication skills and suggest appropriate educational approaches.
Senior Design courses provide an excellent opportunity for learning audience analysis, since they involve students dealing with real-world clients1. And, since ABET requirements have increased, more engineering colleges and universities are focused on enhancing students’ communication skills2. Norback and colleagues have developed a workforce-based educational tool to help students in Senior Design analyze their audience for their project-related communications3 4. The questions included in the audience analysis tools are based on interviews conducted with practicing industrial engineers, supervisors, and senior executives in organizations employing many industrial engineers. Examples of the questions include the main client contact’s role, understanding of the problem, and specific expectations for the student team. Pfeiffer advised students working with real-world clients to find out, as part of coming to know their audience, which individuals are the decision-makers5. Organizational context is the phrase often used by workforce professionals to refer to the hierarchy of the organization, the interaction with various people in different parts of the organization, and the responsibilities of each person in the organization. Sharp has noted that, often, when first interacting with professionals, students are not sure which questions to ask. Providing
Norback, J., & Billings, R., & Forehand, G. (2006, June), Georgia Tech Ie Workforce Communication: Comparing Senior Design Students' Audience Analyses To Their Clients' Self Descriptions Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--230
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