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Valuing Women’s Contributions: Team Projects and Collaborative Writing

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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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 in engineering, and she has recently published on 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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Team projects offer opportunities for student engineers to learn how to work on a team and produce collaborative written reports. However, research has shown that women often do more writing during these projects, and that their writing labor is unrecognized or undervalued, particularly when the technical work is viewed as more essential. In this paper, we examine the results of a study focused on the writing component in a year-long senior capstone materials science and engineering (MSE) course sequence. This course requires students to complete projects for clients and produce a written report, among other deliverables. To focus more on writing education, the engineering professors brought in an English professor, who researches engineering communication and is coordinating this project, to consult on assignments, comment on student work, and present on writing topics, including managing the writing aspect of collaborative work. Here, we assess the impacts of interventions on student writing and collaboration, focusing on women’s experiences through a series of interviews. These interviews focused on learning more about women’s past experiences working on teams and the effects of the course interventions. Particular to women’s experiences, we argue that by making the writing labor more visible in the project and insisting that each student contribute to the writing, women’s contributions will not only be clearer but also more explicitly valued and their experiences will be more positive overall. After describing the findings, we offer recommendations to continue improving women’s experiences in project-based classroom settings. These recommendations focus on ways engineering instructors who assign writing can ensure women’s contributions are both visible and valued in evaluation.

Mallette, J. C., & Ackler, H. (2018, June), Valuing Women’s Contributions: Team Projects and Collaborative Writing Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31223

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