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Student Journals As A Diagnostic Tool In Quantitative Engineering Classes

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment & Quality Assuranc in Engr Ed

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1035.1 - 8.1035.11



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Paper Authors

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Roger Reynolds

author page

Macy Reynolds

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1360

Student Journals as a Diagnostic Tool in Quantitative Engineering Classes

Macy Reynolds, Roger Reynolds University of Dayton

Abstract Journaling is a common communication tool in English classes but not in engineering classes. However, journals can also be very productive for both students and instructors in classes emphasizing quantitative concepts. Typically, students submit journals weekly throughout the term and the content and format may vary according to what the professor needs to know. The professor reacts briefly to the journals with written comments either on a hard copy or by email. The purpose of a journal is to alert the professor as to how well a concept was understood or which students are struggling and perhaps give some prescriptive solutions. To assess the effectiveness of journaling, students at the University of Dayton were assigned weekly email journals in two introductory programming classes and an engineering economics class. The classes contain first to fourth year engineering technology students. The anticipated outcomes were to offer a quick check on the basic skill level of students, provide early intervention when a student did not understand concepts, create an informal communication with a professor so questions that might not get asked in class could be addressed informally, and finally, that writing skills would be practiced and improved. Based on anecdotal evidence gathered throughout the semester, this paper will promote journaling as a key success factor for students in engineering classes.

Introduction Many engineers keep daily or weekly journals as informal project records that ultimately result in more formal status reports. Sometimes the engineer’s journal is just a personal record to help explain problems or to record agreements and lessons learned from the project. While journaling is widely used in the daily work environment, most journal writing in college is reserved for English and humanities classes. When engineering students write, it is generally in the form of a lab report. The authors’ research yielded few results that documented the results of using journals in engineering classes. The premise of this paper is that journals should be more widely used in quantitative classes, including engineering, as a way to help students learn important concepts more thoroughly. According to ABET standards, “Technically trained individuals should not be considered educated regardless of the depth of their technical capability if they cannot communicate, both orally and in writing, their technical findings, thoughts, and philosophy to others around them.”1 Writing about learning in core classes provides practice for future engineers for communicating engineering concepts. The authors surmised that verbalizing the successes and frustrations of learning quantitative concepts or as Beall calls it learning the “Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Reynolds, R., & Reynolds, M. (2003, June), Student Journals As A Diagnostic Tool In Quantitative Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11419

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