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Video Mediated Communication (VMC) Fluency for Today’s Engineering Student: You’re on Camera

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Endeavors: Mechatronics, Robotics, and Technology

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Alyson Grace Eggleston The Citadel

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Alyson G. Eggleston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communications at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she teaches STEM-focused technical writing and communication, writing-intensive courses for international students, and linguistics. She received her PhD from Purdue University in Linguistics, and she has a BA and MA in English with concentrations in TESOL and writing pedagogy from Youngstown State University. Her research and teaching interests are in technical and scientific writing pedagogy and the interaction of language and cognition. She is a member of Sigma Xi and ASEE.

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Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

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Robert Rabb is a professor and the Mechanical Engineering Department Chair at The Citadel. He previously taught mechanical engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and his M.S.E. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in mechatronics, regenerative power, and multidisciplinary engineering.

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This paper reports preliminary results showing improvements in engineering students’ fluency in Video-Mediated Communication (VMC). VMC has been studied for over twenty-five years, and current industry practices are biasing toward a remote, connected, and agile workforce. The 2010 NSF Workshops on Communicating Science: Tools for Scientists and Engineers reports that traditional education and training typically do not prepare scientists and engineers to communicate effectively with industry, policymakers, and public stakeholders. Engineers are increasingly expected to communicate their results directly to the greater public. Engineers’ clear communication with these audiences ensures continuity in critical operations during times of crisis. Today’s engineering graduate must master effective communication skills to foster productive team dynamics, propose persuasive projects, provide valuable status updates to management, and effect change within his or her organization—all while video conferencing. Video-mediated communication (VMC), an alternative to face-to-face communication that occurs over an information technology platform, is positioned to occupy a more central role in engineering curricula.

Preliminary results of a mixed model analysis of student performance features over three semesters indicate that students can measurably improve their presentation skills and interactions with supervisors. Situated in a senior engineering design capstone course, results show that students’ VMC fluency improved. When subjected to rubric-based intervention strategies and repeated exposure, engineering students gained enhanced audience awareness and practical knowledge. This study contributes to understanding how communication development emerges and is best fostered in engineering students. Key research impacts include a feature-based model of successful VMC interactions and recommended rubric-based best practices for curricular inclusion of VMC.

As engineering students’ academic and professional lives unfold increasingly online due to the globalization of labor, engineers will need to become fluent in using VMC to manage professional perceptions and mission. Given the growing national demand for engineers’ innovations, the timing is ideal to study engineers’ communicative capacity and the conditions and interventions that offer them the greatest support for communicative success.

Eggleston, A. G., & Rabb, R. J. (2021, July), Video Mediated Communication (VMC) Fluency for Today’s Engineering Student: You’re on Camera Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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