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Our work aims to support engineering and science faculty in adapting core concepts and best practices from writing studies and technical communication for their courses. We also study the effectiveness of varied supports, with an aim of improving the diffusion of effective pedagogies. Our Writing Across Engineering and Science (WAES) program includes a semester-long faculty learning community, followed by sustained mentoring, during which faculty and graduate students from our multidisciplinary team work with mentees to develop and implement new pedagogies and course materials. For graduate students, we developed an engineering course focused on engineering and science writing practices and pedagogies. This paper focuses on one key finding from our analysis: discussions about writing practices involving people from different disciplines often involve irregular and sporadic bumpiness through which foundational changes can emerge. We call this phenomenon discursive turbulence. In our experience, signs of discursive turbulence include affective intensity and co-existing contradictory beliefs. We share four examples to illustrate ways in which discursive turbulence appears, drawn from people with varying degrees and types of engagement with our transdisciplinary work: i) project team members, ii) a faculty mentee, iii) faculty who participated in a focus group on disciplinary writing goals, and iv) engineering graduate students who took our class on writing practice and pedagogy. Discursive turbulence now informs our mentoring approach. It can be generative as well as challenging. Importantly, it takes time to resolve, suggesting the utility of sustained mentoring during pedagogical change.
Zilles, J., & Ware, R., & Mericle, M., & Prior, P., & Gallagher, J., & Popovics, J., & Cooper, L., & Elliott, C. (2022, August), Promoting pedagogical change around writing: Observations of discursive turbulence Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/42053
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