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Quantitative Comparison between Writing Attitudes of U.S. Domestic and International Engineering Graduate Students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Graduate Student Support

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Ellen Zerbe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Ellen Zerbe is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her B.S.M.E. at Grove City College. She is currently researching under Dr. Catherine Berdanier in the Engineering Cognition Research Laboratory.

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Catherine G.P. Berdanier Pennsylvania State University, University Park Orcid 16x16

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Catherine G.P. Berdanier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from The University of South Dakota, her M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research interests include graduate-level engineering education, including inter- and multidisciplinary graduate education, online engineering cognition and learning, and engineering communication.

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Engineering students entering graduate school are typically underprepared for the writing tasks involved completing a Ph.D. Previous work has shown that writing attitudes and confidence in writing skills correlate with likelihood of pursuing certain careers and persistence and attrition in the program. However, all work to date has considered graduate students all together: In this study we seek to understand potential differences in the ways that U.S. domestic students and international student (both those studying in the U.S. and those studying in other countries) so that researchers and faculty who teach engineering communication can better tailor their activities and approaches to teaching writing. A survey accessing the students writing approaches, concepts, and self-regulatory efficacy was distributed to engineering graduate students at universities in Japan and Norway. The results of this survey were then compared to the results of a similar survey taken by domestic engineering graduate students and international engineering graduate students studying in the U.S. Findings indicate that there are statistically significant differences between U.S. domestic engineering graduate students with international engineering graduate students for most of the engineering writing attitudinal factors studied, indicating that instructors should begin to tailor approaches differently for individual students. From a research perspective, we will continue to use these findings to investigate and illuminate cultural variations that can influence the writing process.

Zerbe, E., & Berdanier, C. G. (2019, June), Quantitative Comparison between Writing Attitudes of U.S. Domestic and International Engineering Graduate Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33221

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