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Improving Student Technical Communication via Self-reflection

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Communication in the Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.927.1 - 26.927.13



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Paper Authors


Kenneth P. Mineart North Carolina State University

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Kenneth Mineart received his Bachelor's degree in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from the University of Iowa. Currently, he is a doctoral student in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University where he works in the field of block copolymer science with Professor Richard Spontak. Kenneth has regularly served as a graduate teaching assistant for a variety of courses including: Unit Operations Laboratory, Material and Energy Balances, Introduction to Polymer Science, and Chemical Engineering Analysis. He has completed the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) and Preparing the Professoriate (PTP) programs offered by the North Carolina State University Graduate School. Kenneth's educational research interest focuses on increasing the efficacy of student communication in the engineering classroom through both writing and speaking.

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Matthew Cooper North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Matthew Cooper is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University where he teaches Material and Energy Balances, Unit Operations, Transport Phenomena and Mathematical / Computational Methods. He is the recipient of the 2014 NCSU Outstanding Teacher Award, 2014 ASEE Southeastern Section Outstanding New Teacher Award, and currently serves as the ASEE Chemical Engineering Division’s newsletter editor. Dr. Cooper’s research interests include effective teaching, conceptual and inductive learning, integrating writing and speaking into the curriculum and professional ethics.

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Improving Student Technical Communication via Self ReflectionOne area of major importance for engineering students entering the workforce is the ability tosuccessfully communicate with coworkers. Formal communication in the engineering workplaceheavily relies on presentation skills to provide colleagues with updates and recommendations.However, communication skills are a common weakness in many engineering curricula due tominimal student experience. Making the most of student presentations in the undergraduateengineering classroom is invaluable to students’ future success. Instructors managing classroompresentations are immersed in many tasks, though, so increasing the efficiency of presentationfeedback mechanisms provides a potential route for maximizing students benefit from theseexperiences.The presented work examines student self-evaluation and reflection as a route to increasingformal presentation skill. The tasks required for an instructor during student presentations areexhaustive (grading, questioning, etc.), and leave little time to include extensive feedbackpertaining to communication skill. In addition, students’ firsthand discovery of presentationweaknesses and negative speaking habits increase their awareness of such behavior insubsequent experiences. Therefore, the potential impact of this study is twofold: (1) it minimizesextraneous work for the instructor and (2) it provides students a platform to analyze their owncommunication skill, take ownership of their findings, and make improvements they themselvesdiscover.The study investigates the efficacy of student-centered evaluations on their communication.Student presentations are recorded, including the post-presentation question and answer session,and made available to presenters. Students are required to submit a formal document detailinghow they feel their presentation could be improved to increase the channel of communicationwith their audience. Instructor feedback of findings is provided to guide students along thecorrect path and to ensure that they address major items. Then, students analyze subsequentpresentations against their self-determined recommendations. The effectiveness of student self-reflection will be presented based on qualitative student feedback and on the quantitativeimprovement of student presentations (i.e. grades). Improvement will be tracked through thecourse of a semester and compared with previous semester trends in which student self-examination and reflection was absent.

Mineart, K. P., & Cooper, M. (2015, June), Improving Student Technical Communication via Self-reflection Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24264

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