June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.718.1 - 15.718.10
Incorporating Visual Communications Assignments to Enrich Education in All Engineering Disciplines
At Louisiana State University, a gift from an alumnus made possible the establishment of a program to improve students’ communication skills. As we described in a 2006 paper, the Communication across the Curriculum (CxC) Program was established in 2004 with an initial emphasis on engineering students.¹ One of the key elements of the CxC program was the inception of Communication-Intensive (C-I) Courses. C-I courses are intended to be integrated into existing discipline-specific courses, with additional requirements for emphasis on two of the four modes of communication: written, spoken, visual (the focus of this paper), and technological. In a 2007 survey designed to solicit student perceptions of the value of C-I courses in the engineering curricula, students overwhelmingly agreed that the assignments contributed to their communication skills, and that these skills were important to their future careers in engineering.2 Faculty assessment of C-I courses in 2008 showed that workload increased somewhat for both faculty and students in C-I courses; however, it was also acknowledged that students’ knowledge of traditional course content was enhanced. 3
Another key element in the CxC program was the establishment of communication studios in the various colleges. The first of these, the Engineering Communication Studio (Studio), was opened in the fall of 2005. This 2000 ft² facility and its use by students and faculty were described in detail in a 2007 paper.4 The Studio has state-of-the-art technology applications at 17 computer work stations and comfortable lounge seating for an Internet café atmosphere. A conference room in the Studio is equipped to support critiques of oral presentations, one requirement of many C-I courses.
A valuable resource is the Studio’s three-dimensional (3-D) printer, which enables students to see their designs come to life by creating a functional ABS plastic model directly from design files. Additionally, a large-format printer allows students to create posters and CAD drawings in formats up to 42 inches wide. To aid in the development of communication projects, the Studio offers a wide range of audio-visual resources for student checkout. These resources include still and video cameras, wireless and corded microphone systems, and highly portable projectors and projection screens.
The campus-wide CxC program and the Studio comprise a sustained support system for engineering students and faculty. This has contributed to enthusiastic acceptance of programmatic changes by both faculty and students and helped the engineering program meet ABET’s criterion for Program Outcomes, which states that students must demonstrate an “ability to communicate effectively.”5 Traditionally, this outcome has been assessed by examining students’ writing and speaking skills. However, as this paper shows, organizations such as the National Academy of Engineering are stressing the necessity for students to develop visual communication skills as well. Because of the requirements of C-I courses (emphasizing two of the four modes) and because of the technologies and instruction available to students in the Studio, the CxC program in Engineering has enhanced its instruction in visual communication
Waggenspack, W., & Liggett, S., & Hull, W., & Bowles, D., & Sears, S., & Thomas, D., & Davis, P. (2010, June), Incorporating Visual Communications Assignments To Enrich Education In All Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16090
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015