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Investigating the Effect of Engineering Undergraduates’ Writing Transfer Modes on Lab Report Writing in Entry-level Engineering Lab Courses

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Supporting Successful Progression From First-year Studies

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37402

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

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Charles Riley P.E. Oregon Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7993-437X

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Dr. Riley has been teaching civil engineering structures and mechanics concepts for over 12 years and has been honored with both the ASCE ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Award and the Beer and Johnston Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award. While he teaches freshman to graduate-level courses across the civil engineering curriculum, his focus is on engineering mechanics. He values classroom demonstrations and illustrative laboratory and field experiences. He has served as an ASCE ExCEEd Teaching Workshop mentor for five years as well as the founding coordinator for the Oregon Tech Excellence in Teaching Workshop.

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biography

Dave Kim Washington State University Vancouver

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Dr. Dave Kim is Professor and Mechanical Engineering Program Coordinator in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University Vancouver. His teaching and research have been in the areas of engineering materials, fracture mechanics, and manufacturing processes. In particular, he has been very active in pedagogical research in the area of writing pedagogy of engineering laboratory courses. Dr. Kim and his collaborators attracted close to $1M research grants to study writing transfer of engineering undergraduates. For the technical research, he has a long-standing involvement in research concerned with manufacturing of advanced composite materials (CFRP/titanium stack, GFRP, nanocomposites, etc.) for automotive, marine, and aerospace applications. His recent research efforts have also included the fatigue behavior of manufactured products, with the focus of fatigue strength improvement of aerospace, automotive, and rail structures. He has been the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed papers in these areas.

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Ken Lulay University of Portland

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BSME, University of Portland, 1984
MSME, University of Portland, 1987
PhD, University of Washington, 1990
Hyster Co., 1984-1987
Boeing 1990-1998
Associate Prof, University of Portland, Current

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John D. Lynch Washington State University Vancouver

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John D. Lynch received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Cum Laude, from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1979. From 1979 to 1995 he worked in the high-tech industry in California and Oregon as a computer engineer, including positions at Floating Point Systems, Intel, AMD, Pyramid Technology, and Adaptive Solutions. From 1995 to 1998 he managed ASIC Design Engineering for InFocus Corporation. From 1998 to 2002 he was Director of IC Design Engineering at Pixelworks, Inc. In 2002 he joined the School of Science and Engineering (formerly the Oregon Graduate Institute) of Oregon Health & Science University as an Instructor, where he developed and taught courses in a variety of computer engineering subjects. In 2007 he was appointed Director of OHSU's Computer Engineering and Design Education Program. In 2009, after completing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at OHSU, he joined the engineering faculty at Washington State University Vancouver. Since 2012 he has served as Coordinator of the electrical engineering program at WSU Vancouver.

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Sean St. Clair Oregon Institute of Technology

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Sean St.Clair is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Oregon Tech, where he teaches structural engineering courses and conducts research in engineering education. He is also a registered Professional Engineer.

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Abstract

Engineering undergraduates are exposed to a variety of writing curricula, such as first-year-composition courses, in their early program of study; however, they have difficulties meeting the expectations of writing in early engineering courses. On the other hand, instructors in entry-level engineering lab courses struggle to instruct lab report writing due to a wide range of student background in writing. When using the lens of learning transfer theories, which describe the processes and the effective extent to which past experiences affect learning and performance in a new situation, we can classify engineering students in three writing transfer modes: 1) concurrent transfer, which occurs when a rhetorically-focused technical writing class is taken concurrently or prior to engineering labs in the major; 2) vertical transfer, which occurs when a rhetorically-focused general education writing class is taken prior to engineering labs in the major; and 3) absent transfer, which occurs when no rhetorically-focused writing class exists (rather literature-focused) or writing-intensive courses are not required in the general education curriculum. This study aims to investigate how the engineering sophomore’s past writing experience affects their engineering lab report writing. Lab reports from four sophomore engineering courses (1 civil, 2 electrical, 1 general engineering) across three institutions collected for analysis consisted of two sets: the sample sets in early labs (for example, Lab 1) and in later labs (for example, the last lab) of the courses. A total of 46 reports (22 early and 24 later) were collected from 22 engineering sophomores during AY2019-2020. Four engineering faculty (1 civil, 1 electrical, and 2 mechanical engineering) developed a rubric based on lab report writing student outcomes, which are aligned with the existing outcomes such as ABET outcomes and the student outcomes from the Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA). Data collected via early-later lab reports show that student outcomes related to writing conventions were scored high regardless of the transfer modes. The largest variations among three transfer modes were found in the student outcomes related to lab data presentation, analysis, and interpretation. In these outcomes, the concurrent transfer students had relatively high scores for both early and later reports, while the vertical transfer students improved their scores from relatively low in early reports to high in later reports. This research results show that the area of writing knowledge that has been most influenced by their writing curricula prior to sophomore engineering lab courses is disciplinary meaning-making through presenting, analyzing, and interpreting lab data for the technical audience.

Riley, C., & Kim, D., & Lulay, K., & Lynch, J. D., & St. Clair, S. (2021, July), Investigating the Effect of Engineering Undergraduates’ Writing Transfer Modes on Lab Report Writing in Entry-level Engineering Lab Courses Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37402

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