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Improving the Teaching and Learning of Writing through the Writing Studio Model

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Michelle Miley Montana State University

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Dr. Michelle Miley is an Assistant Professor in English and Director of the Writing Center at Montana State University. She is an affiliate of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center (MEERC).

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Todd Kaiser Montana State University

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Dr. Todd J. Kaiser is a Professor and Department Head in the electrical and computer engineering department at Montana State University (MSU). Dr. Kaiser teaches and conducts research in the area of microfabrication of sensors and actuators. He has developed four microfabrication based courses where students use a clean room facility to fabricate transistors, solar cells or MEMS structures. Dr. Kaiser’s research group is currently creating radiation sensors for a radiation tolerant computer system for space flights on satellites and in the International Space Station.

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Liz Kovalchuk Montana State University

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Elizabeth Kovalchuk received her BS in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering (IMSE) from Montana State University (MSU) in 2017. Her research interests include engineering education, engineering management, and narrative training.

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This paper presents the results of a pilot collaboration between the University Writing Center and a senior-level Electrical Engineering course. To address the growing need for engineering students to improve their written communication skills, the professor assigned a technology review paper to his class. Students then participated in a required writing studio, a writing group of five to seven students who provide feedback to one another on their writing processes throughout the semester. The writing studios are facilitated by the University Writing Center undergraduate peer tutors, some of whom are also engineering students. The Writing Center offered both online and face-to-face meeting times to the students. Research in writing studies shows that simply assigning writing will not necessarily improve writing skills. The students find the assignments disconnected from the course content, and do not have the knowledge to move into disciplinary writing. Teaching writing, however, takes time away from content instruction. To integrate writing into their curriculum, engineering professors need pedagogical models that provide writing support to students without eliminating content instruction time. The writing studio model, developed by researchers in the field of rhetoric and composition, provides an environment outside of the classroom to support the students as they develop into disciplinary writers. The initial data from the partnership shows the writing studio as a valuable model providing feedback for all stakeholders involved in the teaching and learning of writing. Students not only practice writing but also responding to others, thereby increasing their understanding of the writer/reader relationship and the necessity of revision, rhetorical context, audience, and genre. In addition, because the writing studio requires collaboration between the professor and the Writing Center, and because the Writing Center tutors observe the students in the activity of writing, the studio also provided a feedback loop for those engaged in teaching writing. All stakeholders received feedback on how the students interacted with the assignments and the studio process, and how the assignment and partnership might be revised so as to make them more effective. Finally, results show Writing Center engineering tutors engaged in metacognitive thinking about writing in engineering, and applying their thinking to their own writing and communication skills.

Miley, M., & Kaiser, T., & Kovalchuk, L. (2018, June), Improving the Teaching and Learning of Writing through the Writing Studio Model Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30637

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