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Strategies to Integrate Writing in Problem-solving Courses: Promoting Learning Transfer in an Interdisciplinary Context

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Approaches for Enhancing Non-technical Skills

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1404.1 - 26.1404.14



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Paper Authors


Reneta Davina Lansiquot New York City College of Technology

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Reneta D. Lansiquot is an Associate Professor and Program Director, Bachelor of Science in Professional and Technical Writing, as well as the Assistant Director of the Honors Scholars Program at New York City College of Technology. Dr. Lansiquot earned an A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems, a B.Tech in Computer Systems at the New York City College of Technology, City University of New York, a M.S. in Integrated Digital Media at Polytechnic University (now NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering), and her Ph.D. in Educational Communication and Technology at New York University. Her mixed methodology research, focusing on interdisciplinary studies, has been presented at numerous national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles on varied topics such as technical writing, the future of science education, game design, virtual reality, and problem solving. Her book is entitled Cases on Interdisciplinary Research Trends in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Studies on Urban Classrooms (Information Science Reference, 2013).

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Candido Cabo New York City College of Technology

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Candido Cabo is a Professor in the Department of Computer Systems Technology at New York City College of Technology, City University of New York. He earned the degree of Ingeniero Superior de Telecomunicacion from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in 1982, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 1992. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Upstate Medical Center, State University of New York, and a research scientist in the Department of Pharmacology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Since 2005, he has been a member of the doctoral faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research interests include computer science and engineering education and the use of computational models to understand and solve problems in biology. He has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles on computer modeling of biological processes, particularly relating to cardiac electrophysiology.

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Strategies to Integrate Writing in Problem-Solving Courses: Promoting Learning Transfer in an Interdisciplinary ContextReflective writings, the contextualization of learning experiences, and the application of learning toreal life all facilitate the transfer of interdisciplinary learning. Such strategies include makingexplicit to students the need for such a transfer, advising them to follow the appropriate coursesequence, emphasizing material they need to transfer to other courses, practicing transfer byinviting guest lecturers, developing of metacognitive skills, and reinforcing concepts by using themin different contexts. As the transfer of learning does not occur automatically, curricular andcourse design should intentionally emphasize the connection between courses.Problem Solving with Computer Programming (PS) is a required course for first-year computersystems majors and offers an ideal opportunity to establish a transfer structure. To make studentsaware of the connections between PS and English Composition that is also required, and tofacilitate the transfer of skills, we developed a learning community (LC) linking these courses.This innovative approach to teaching computing and writing to first-year computer systemsmajors at a college of technology uses programming narratives as its theme. Students write andimplement narratives, using computer programming, to develop a narrative-driven video gameprototype using Alice, a three-dimensional animation software. The LC emphasizes theimportance of connecting courses in the major and those in general education. The LC builds onour previous research, which found that introducing narrative elements into problem-solvingcourses improves overall student performance and computer programming-related problem-solving skills in particular.In this presentation, we will describe best practices and lessons learned from our LC and we willpresent three different strategies to integrate writing in PS courses for majors and non-majors.First, since implementation of LCs is not always feasible, to infuse narrative elements intoproblem-solving we developed a narrative module to help students develop narrative and writingskills that can be incorporated in all sections of the PS course. Second, we developed a series ofstudent-assessed case studies that can be integrated in all sections of the PS course for computersystems majors. Cases studies provide a narrative context in which students learn basic constructsof computer programming such as sequencing, selection and repetition structures. Third, wecreated a general education interdisciplinary course, Programming Narratives: Computer AnimatedStorytelling, open to non-computer majors, which emphasize creative writing and computationalthinking. In this interdisciplinary course, students learn the structure of narrative, concepts ofproblem solving, and the logic of computer programming languages as they develop a narrative-driven video game prototype helping students achieve the college-wide learning goal of makingmeaningful and multiple connections among the liberal arts and between the liberal arts and theareas of study leading to a major or profession.

Lansiquot, R. D., & Cabo, C. (2015, June), Strategies to Integrate Writing in Problem-solving Courses: Promoting Learning Transfer in an Interdisciplinary Context Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24741

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