June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.1051.1 - 11.1051.10
Proofreading Exercises to Improve Technical Writing in a Freshman Engineering Course
The freshman curriculum for engineering students has recently been completely restructured at Ohio Northern University (ONU). All engineering majors now take a common three-course introduction to engineering sequence during their first year. An important component of this new sequence is the inclusion of more technical communication exercises in the everyday coursework. In the 2005-06 academic year, a technical writing book has been added as a required text, which is used extensively in the first course; it is further used as a reference in subsequent courses. However, in spite of several lectures and reading assignments on the basic rules of grammar and punctuation, it was found that students continued to submit work which contained obvious and significant errors.
In an effort to improve students’ ability to identify and correct their own errors, two exercises in proofreading were given to the students. First, each student was asked to create a report. Another student was then made responsible for proofreading the document. When this assignment was graded, both the author and the proofreader lost points for any errors which were found by the instructor. Additional assignments were given in which students were asked to find errors in written material and in graphs.
Student performance was assessed by the faculty teaching this course (four faculty taught a total of five sections) on the basis of the above assignments. In addition, students were given a self-assessment of how their writing and proofreading skills have been affected by this assignment. In-class quizzes were given to measure students’ ability to proofread by asking them to find errors in written work and in graphs. Finally, two similar questions on the final examination were used to measure students’ ability to proofread. This paper discusses the proofreading assignment, the results of the various forms of assessment, lessons learned, and plans for modification for next year’s classes.
As part of curriculum reform at ONU, a new sequence of three freshman courses was created in the Engineering College. These courses were designed to have significant technical communication content, and were first implemented in the 2004-05 academic year. Feedback from both students and faculty, obtained as part of our standard continuous improvement processes, indicated that this sequence needed significant improvement, particularly in the first course, which contained much of the focus on technical communication. In response to this feedback, the first course, especially its technical communications aspect, was redesigned during the summer of 2005. A new technical communication text was required for the course, and significant classroom time was devoted to technical communication content. Initial assignments, however, indicated
Yoder, J., & Sawyers, D., & Estell, J. K., & Laird, L. (2006, June), Proofreading Exercises To Improve Technical Writing In A Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/574
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