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Using Reflection to Facilitate Writing Knowledge Transfer in Upper-Level Materials Science Courses

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Jennifer C. Mallette Boise State University

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An Assistant Professor of English at Boise State University, Dr. Jenn Mallette teaches technical communication at the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to working with STEM students in her undergraduate technical communication course, she collaborates with faculty in the College of Engineering to focus on enhancing writing education in engineering courses. Her other research focuses on women engineering, and she has recently published the results of a case study exploring the connections among women's experiences in engineering, their identities as writers, and their writing.

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Harold Ackler P.E. Boise State University Orcid 16x16

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In engineering, students rarely use a cohesive theory of writing to approach the writing situations they encounter in their engineering courses and internships. Instead, they fall back on the strategies they developed in high school or as first year college students in composition. These strategies sometimes work, but they may also lead student writers to ignore the new rhetorical situation they are engaging in, thus not always writing with an eye toward specific audiences, or with an awareness of how the different context brings with it different genres and conventions they must use to write successfully as engineers. In addition, even when terms and elements of writing process are introduced, they tend to revert back to the less successful strategies in their repertoire to complete writing tasks rather than revising their approaches to fit the demands of the engineering/scientific rhetorical situations.

With an eye toward asking students to develop a engineering-specific theory of writing and nudging them into the novice status needed to learn how to address writing in a new context, we approached teaching junior- and senior-level materials science classes with two goals: 1.) asking students to engage in reflection throughout the semester to connect learning not only from prior classes, but across assignments, semesters, and years; and 2.) encouraging students to generate their own theory of writing that will help them address the demands of writing for engineering within school and beyond. This paper will report on what we (an English faculty member collaborating with a materials science and engineering faculty member) are doing to promote writing in the classes through reflection and feedback. We also explore how students might be taking that knowledge elsewhere, whether to another course or outside the university. Our aim is to bring together recent scholarship on transfer, writing pedagogy, and engineering education to explore how reflection can be used in an upper-level setting to extend students’ writing education and allow them to develop the tools they need to be successful engineers both in the classroom and beyond.

Mallette, J. C., & Ackler, H. (2019, June), Using Reflection to Facilitate Writing Knowledge Transfer in Upper-Level Materials Science Courses Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33516

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