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Perspectives and Practices of Undergraduate/Graduate Teaching Assistants on Writing Pedagogical Knowledge and Lab Report Evaluation in Engineering Laboratory Courses

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Experimentation and Laboratory-oriented Studies Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Dave Kim Washington State University, Vancouver

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Dr. Dave (Dae-Wook) Kim is Associate Professor and Mechanical Engineering Program Coordinator in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University Vancouver. He has been very active in pedagogical research and undergraduate research projects, and his research interests include writing transfer of engineering students and writing pedagogy in engineering lab courses. His technical research area includes hybrid composite manufacturing and structural integrity improvement.

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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 from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1979. From 1979 to 1995 he worked in the computer industry in California and Oregon, 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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Engineering undergraduate lab sections are often instructed by undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants (U/GTAs), who also grade lab reports and provide feedback. Although U/GTAs contribute extensively to the assessment of lab reports, their perspectives and understanding of writing pedagogy are largely unknown. U/GTAs are primarily trained as writers in engineering; however, they are often novices in writing knowledge and its pedagogy. The electrical engineering and mechanical engineering programs of a 4-year institution have conducted professional development workshops for the U/GTAs (n=6) who instruct engineering lab courses and/or grade lab reports. The goal of the workshops was to enhance the U/GTAs’ knowledge of writing and lab report evaluation to support and improve engineering undergraduate students’ lab report writing. The workshop contents consisted of 1) lab instructors’ expectations, 2) the fundamentals of lab report writing (rhetorical features of lab reports), and 3) productive feedbacks. The workshops were offered to six U/GTAs from five courses (two sophomore, two junior, and one senior electrical engineering lab courses). In order to identify the overall effectiveness of the workshops, we conducted the survey and focus group with the U/GTAs to investigate their writing background, their understanding of audience awareness, their perspectives and understanding of writing instruction, and their lab report evaluation processes. We also collected the graded lab reports to investigate feedback comments. This paper discusses the U/GTAs’ perspectives and their practices of writing pedagogies in the lab courses. The knowledge generated from this study has provided a direction for refining the professional development workshops for U/GTAs in the present and future.

Kim, D., & Lynch, J. D. (2020, June), Perspectives and Practices of Undergraduate/Graduate Teaching Assistants on Writing Pedagogical Knowledge and Lab Report Evaluation in Engineering Laboratory Courses Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35052

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