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Preliminary Assessment of and Lessons Learned in PITCH: an Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineers

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Writing and Communication II

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

22

DOI

10.18260/p.25944

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25944

Download Count

104

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Paper Authors

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Nadiye O. Erdil University of New Haven

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Nadiye O. Erdil is an assistant professor of industrial engineering and engineering and operations management at the University of New Haven. Her research interests include use of statistical methods and lean tools for quality and process improvement, and use of information technology in operations management. Her work is primarily in manufacturing and healthcare delivery operations.

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Ronald S Harichandran P.E. University of New Haven

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Ron Harichandran is Dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering and is the PI of the two grants entitled "Project to Integrate Technical Communication Skills" and "Developing entrepreneurial thinking in engineering students by utilizing integrated online modules and experiential learning opportunities." Through these grants technical communication and entrepreneurial thinking skills are being integrated into courses spanning all four years in seven ABET accredited engineering and computer science BS programs.

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Michael A. Collura University of New Haven

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Michael A. Collura, professor of chemical engineering at the University of New Haven, received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lafayette College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Lehigh University. After several years in industry, he moved to the academic world, where he has taught engineering for more than 30 years. He is currently the Buckman Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Tagliatela College of Engineering. His professional interests include the application of computers to process modeling and control (particularly for energy conversion processes), engineering education research (student self-assessment, developing conceptual understanding, multidisciplinary learning models), and reform of engineering education.Currently he is chairing the shared Department of Engineering and Applied Science Education at the University of New Haven.

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Jean Nocito-Gobel University of New Haven

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Jean Nocito-Gobel, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of New Haven, received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has been actively involved in a number of educational initiatives in the Tagliatela College of Engineering including KEEN and PITCH, PI of the ASPIRE grant, and is the coordinator for the first-year Intro to Engineering course. Her professional interests include modeling the transport and fate of contaminants in groundwater and surface water systems, as well as engineering education reform.

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David J. Adams Technical Communications Consultant

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David Adams has more than 23 years experience working in, developing and directing technical communication initiatives within engineering curricula.
Prior to his consulting with the Tagliatela College of Engineering, he had worked with similar projects at engineering colleges at Cornell University, Michigan State University and the University of Maine. He is the author of COPE: a Technical Writing Guide for Engineers, 3rd. ed. 2014. University of New Haven. He was also a Senior Member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

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Amanda Simson The University of New Haven

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Amanda Simson was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering in August 2015. Her research focuses on using heterogeneous catalysis in applications like emissions control and alternative energy technologies. Amanda received her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering in May of 2013. Simson’s work at Columbia focused on developing more efficient hydrogen production processes for PEM fuel cells and her work was sponsored by BASF. Before joining the staff at UNH she spent two years developing hydrogen production technologies for Watt Fuel Cell in Port Washington, NY. Dr. Simson is very interested in improving educational opportunities for students in STEM. Prior to her PhD studies Dr. Simson taught middle school for three years as part of the Teach for America program and helped found the first Democracy Prep Charter School. She has developed several programs for students including a series of math competitions for NYC middle school students and a chemistry card game called Valence.

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Abstract

The Project to Integrate Technical Communication Habits (PITCH) has been implemented across seven engineering and computer science undergraduate programs starting in fall 2012. The overarching goal of PITCH is to develop written, oral and visual communication skills and professional habits in engineering students. PITCH activities begin in the very first semester and are reinforced and extended through all four years of each program. After three years of progressively more extensive development and deployment, a preliminary assessment of student writing over their first three years in programs was performed. In May 2016 the first cohort of students will have completed the entire sequence of PITCH courses, including senior design.

PITCH was designed to include technical memoranda, poster presentations, oral presentations, laboratory reports, proposals, and senior design reports. In addition to text elements, the use of tables and graphics also were addressed. These technical communication products are integrated into specific foundational courses common to several programs, as well as higher-level courses unique to each program. Engineering faculty teaching these courses were progressively trained through workshops conducted over three summers, so in the early years not all instructors teaching these courses had been fully trained. A random sample of students from four programs was selected for the assessment. These students had taken freshman through junior courses with trained instructors, and the assessment was performed based on the PITCH writing assignments they submitted in four courses.

Four faculty members and an external consultant involved in the development and deployment of PITCH performed the assessment. Each writing assignment was evaluated through use of a common rubric to see how well students achieved the overall PITCH learning outcomes. The evaluations were done in a series of collective settings with all five evaluators present and each writing assignment was assessed. Student progress through the four courses spanning the first three years of PITCH is quantified and the results are discussed.

Also discussed are pedagogical and administrative lessons learned during development and implementation of PITCH to date.

PITCH is supported by a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation.

Erdil, N. O., & Harichandran, R. S., & Collura, M. A., & Nocito-Gobel, J., & Adams, D. J., & Simson, A. (2016, June), Preliminary Assessment of and Lessons Learned in PITCH: an Integrated Approach to Developing Technical Communication Skills in Engineers Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25944

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: © 2016 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