June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.672.1 - 14.672.15
How Engineering Students Learn to Write: Fourth-Year Findings and Summary of the UT-Tyler Engineering Writing Initiative
The Departments of Electrical Engineering and English of the University of Texas at Tyler have completed the Engineering Writing Initiative (EWI), a four-year longitudinal study investigating how engineering students learn to write, how they apply these skills in their studies, and how instructional practice may be reconfigured to better develop these skills. The questions which formed the charter of EWI were:
≠ What are engineering students’ attitudes, practices and skills with regard to writing, and how do those attitudes, practices and skills develop over time? ≠ Does writing in engineering courses help students become more involved with those courses and understand and apply the ideas of those courses? ≠ How can we incorporate what we learn about students’ attitudes, practices and skills in order to improve our instructional practice with regard to writing?
EWI employed multiple data-gathering methods (semi-annual writing prompts, individual interviews with students, written surveys of students, and student writing samples gathered in portfolios). It employed several assessment strategies (quantitative analyses of student writing samples, quantitative analyses of written surveys, and qualitative analyses of interview transcripts).
Our resolve to assess and address problems endemic to Engineering students’ writing is shared throughout the discipline, a concern that is in part driven by the inclusion of communication as a Program Outcome incorporated into ABET 2000 accreditation standards. Indeed, a literature review of writing assessment related literature since that time reveals a rich array of strategies and solutions. These include formative assessment 1; a plan for the incremental implementation of writing skills instruction in Engineering courses 2; an outcomes assessment 3; the use of written workplace materials in Engineering courses 4,5 ; a review of shared assumptions about writing skills among Engineering faculty 6; a multiple-trait scoring guide 7; and the first three iterations of this longitudinal study 8,9,10. To date, there is no other longitudinal study of Engineering students’ writing skills on record. Our four years of work therefore begins to address this gap in knowledge, and it is hoped that this project will be understood as (a) a description and analysis of trends observed within a single cohort of subjects; and (b) an invitation for other researchers to begin contributing similar work to the field of Engineering education.
Beams, D., & Niiler, L. (2009, June), How Engineering Students Learn To Write: Fourth Year Findings And Summary Of The Ut Tyler Engineering Writing Initiative Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4755
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