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Pedagogical Techniques to Promote Development of Graduate Engineering Students as Disciplinary Writers

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Research and Graduate Studies

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.959.1 - 23.959.11



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Paper Authors


Sarah Lyn Gassman University of South Carolina

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Dr. Sarah Gassman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of South Carolina

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Michelle A Maher University of South Carolina

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Briana Timmerman UVA Curry School of Education, Charlottesville VA

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Charles E. Pierce University of South Carolina

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Pedagogical Techniques to Promote Development of Graduate Engineering Students as Disciplinary WritersAbstract As demands for research productivity increase, faculty, particularly untenured juniorfaculty, must efficiently expedite the development of disciplinary writing skills in their graduatestudents. In response to this need, a graduate level, semester-long course was offered within theDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of ____________ for thefirst time in 2012. The course promoted graduate students’ development as disciplinary writersby addressing both broad topics, such as the anatomy of a research article, and narrower topics,such as common grammatical issues. Each student aimed to prepare a manuscript ready, or nearready, for submission to a peer reviewed journal at the semester’s end. To facilitate students’knowledge of and comfort with scholarly writing, several pedagogical strategies were pilotedthroughout the semester. Through use of these strategies, students learned to efficiently locaterelevant primary literature, create literature concept maps to organize disciplinary knowledgeand identify areas for investigation, iteratively hone writing skills through the creation ofsuccessively more advanced manuscript drafts, create and present meaningful figures, and applyrubrics to solicit and provide valuable peer-to-peer feedback. As part of an assessmentadministered at course initiation, students (n = 24) rated their comfort level with professionalwriting on a scale of 1 (very low) to 10 (very high). This assessment was re-administered uponcourse conclusion, and, in addition, students were asked to identify (through free recall)pedagogical strategies that they perceived best facilitated their development as a scholarly writer.Analysis of pre- and post-course change in levels of self-reported confidence as a disciplinarywriter revealed an average increase in comfort level from 4.2 to 6.4 (corresponding medianincreased from 3.5 to 7 and mode from 2 to 7). Tabulation of students’ responses regardingstrategies that best facilitated their development as a scholarly writer identified three strategies:Manuscript Rubric, Conceptual Mapping, and Writing Goal Accountability. An overview ofthese three strategies will be presented in this paper. The authors will discuss the rationale foruse of each pedagogical technique, demonstrate how each technique was used in the course, andprovide guidance for faculty to implement these techniques as they mentor their students’development as disciplinary writers.

Gassman, S. L., & Maher, M. A., & Timmerman, B., & Pierce, C. E. (2013, June), Pedagogical Techniques to Promote Development of Graduate Engineering Students as Disciplinary Writers Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22344

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