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The Right Assignment

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Civil ET

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1287.1 - 9.1287.7

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Paper Authors

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David Devine

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

Session 2649

The Right Assignment

David P. Devine, P.E., S.I.T. Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne


TAC ABET criteria state that communication skills are expected of college graduates. Moreover, employers often indicate that students need to communicate effectively through written expression to become quality employees. The author believes that writing skills are necessary in the engineering, technology, and construction fields based on work experience. This paper presents how the author, new to the teaching profession, is working to develop the “right” writing assignments for sophomore level civil engineering technology students.


Although technology classes are typically associated with many calculations, writing assignments can enhance these courses and more fully prepare students for the work world. The author makes straightforward writing assignments in the sophomore level Civil Engineering Technology classes Structural Analysis I (statics), Structural Analysis II(strength of materials), and Hydraulics and Drainage. The principal purpose of each of these writing assignments is for students to effectively communicate through written expression. Each assignment is made specific to an aspect of the subject matter of the class. Students select their own topics based on their own interests within general guidelines of the assignment. Assignment guidelines include structures such as buildings or bridges, material specifications, material properties, and water, sewer, and storm water services. Students have several weeks to complete the assignments of less than 5 pages and they gather information for their topic primarily through readings and interviews. While the Internet is a valuable resource for information, it is not allowed as the sole source of information. A secondary purpose of the assignment is for students to read information from multiple sources. The grading rubric for the assignment stresses good writing by making correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar a component of the grade as well as documentation of the sources of information.

The development of these assignments is an ongoing process. The author recognizes that assignments made are not yet the “right” writing assignment. Nevertheless, the repeated use of writing assignments for classes in addition to a continual assessment and improvement of the assignments will lead toward that goal.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Devine, D. (2004, June), The Right Assignment Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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