June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
22.834.1 - 22.834.9
Improving Engineering Students’ Technical Communication SkillsThe ABET 2000 Criterion 3g states that engineering programs must educate students with “anability to communicate effectively.” Surveys of engineering graduates and current students atWest Texas A&M University (WTAMU) indicate that there is a desire on behalf of the studentsto experience more technical communication opportunities within engineering coursework.Traditionally, written and oral communication instruction has been conducted in a formal settingwithin the required three course sequence of ENGL 1301 (Introduction to Academic Writing andArgumentation), ENGL 2311 (Introduction to Professional and Technical Communication), andCOMM 1315 (Basic Speech Communication) as part of the university’s core educationalrequirements.The authors, working in conjunction with the Communication and the Engineering andComputer Science Departments, respectively, have identified methodologies to improve andreinforce technical communication skills in the engineering curricula. While communicationinstruction has been an important part of the university education process, this current initiativestrives to focus on the study and improvement of technical communication skills throughoutengineering coursework requirements. This reflects the need of employers for engineers withstrong communication skills and the desire of our students to improve said skills. Threeengineering courses have been targeted for the initiative: ENGR 1201 (Fundamentals ofEngineering), ET 2371 (Metals and Ceramics), and ET 1171 (Engineering Ethics). The first twocourses have a laboratory component while the third is a course created in direct response toABET Criterion 3f (an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility); all three coursescontain significant written and oral communication requirements. These three courses are alsocommon to the civil, mechanical, and engineering technology programs in the Engineering andComputer Science Department at WTAMU. Additionally, a section of COMM 1315 has alsobeen targeted to participate in a common assignment with the ENGR 1201 course.This paper will examine student self-assessment and instructor assessment before and aftercompletion of the targeted engineering courses as well as for the common written technicalcommunication assignment shared between the selected COMM 1315 and ENGR 1201 classes.Preliminary results of this multiyear initiative indicate measureable improvement in students’application of technical communication skills in the targeted engineering courses.
Leitch, K. R., & Dittfurth, R. B., & Davis, F. J. (2011, June), Improving Engineering Students' Technical Communication Skills Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18115
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