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"Using Common Language to Identify Discipline-specific "Dialect" in Electrical, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering"

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Endeavors: Engineering and Liberal Arts

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


David Clippinger Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. David Clippinger is a faculty member in Mechanical Engineering Technology at the Pennsylvania State University, Erie--the Behrend College. His interests are ship dynamics, measurement & instrumentation, and assessment, especially of student writing.

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Steven Y. Nozaki Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

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Ph.D. Engineering Education - The Ohio State University

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Kathleen Jernquist United States Coast Guard Academy

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Kathleen Jernquist retired as the director of the Hewitt Writing Center at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. She earned her M.A. from Middlebury College and her Ph.D. from Brown University.

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While the importance of being able to communicate effectively in writing is widely understood, nevertheless there are persistent differences between the writing styles of students and professionals working in the same discipline. This work further explores a hypothesis by the authors that the presence of distinct written “dialects” in different engineering communities is a source of mixed messages for students, who can be confused by the often-conflicting writing advice presented in various core and discipline-specific courses. Quantitative methods verified this hypothesis, as the results show that author voice, development, style, and diction vary significantly between electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering journal articles. As a result, neither the “STEM writing style” nor the “Engineering writing style” can be considered to be a homogeneous entity. Equipped with this awareness, those personnel responsible for teaching writing to undergraduate students can hopefully be more effective in the delivery of their instruction. Extensions which propose the investigation of engineering writing style among non-academic practitioners and students are included.

Clippinger, D., & Nozaki, S. Y., & Jernquist, K. (2020, June), "Using Common Language to Identify Discipline-specific "Dialect" in Electrical, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering" Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34515

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