Asee peer logo

Work In Progress: First-Year Student Signature Project - Design an Infographic on "What is Technical Communication?"

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Monday 5-Minute Work-in-Progress Postcard Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jessica A. Kuczenski Santa Clara University

visit author page

Dr. Jes Kuczenski joined the engineering faculty at Santa Clara University in 2014. She obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and her B.S. from Iowa State University all in Chemical Engineering. Dr. Kuczenski has been teaching since 2007 and focuses on courses which are commonly found in first years of an engineering education (e.g. introduction to engineering, engineering graphics, statics, and dynamics) or are heavily based in engineering design.

visit author page


Tricia Serviss Santa Clara University

visit author page

Tricia is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Santa Clara University, specializing in writing studies, composition, and writing educational practices.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This work in progress paper discusses if technical writing can be effectively taught with common vocabulary across disciplines to first-year students. In particular, we are interested in using a visual media to engage students and hope to prove that students are demonstrating competence in four areas of particular interest including audience, ethics, summary and design. In time, we hope to longitudinally study these students to see if their rhetorical skills in these areas have grown or persisted due to this project-based introduction to ‘What is technical communication?’.

There are a number of concepts and skills that are common to all our university students. Technical communication is one of the most relevant and utilized across disciplines. We propose to introduce technical communication to our first-year students in two courses in separate disciplines to capitalize on common themes and reinforce ideas to form a stronger foundation for discipline-specific concepts and skills. In particular, we have noted that students tend to view writing in writing courses as ‘creative writing’ and writing for other (often technical) courses as ‘technical writing’ when in fact, the writing principles are the same across contexts. Thus, we’ve created a project-based ‘writing to learn’ signature assignment in different courses using a common vocabulary to connect these concepts.

The signature assignment is project-based and visual, making use of web-based infographic software (e.g. Canva, Venngage, Picktochart). We hope that the highly visual format will allow students to creatively communicate what they’ve learned and learn more deeply through that act of communication. They will be forced to summarize what they have learned and to design an infographic to effectively communicate with their intended audience. Students will share and provide feedback in-class to each other’s infographic drafts during facilitated workshops to learn more about the genre of the infographic, the content represented in the infographic, and editorial strategies useful in applying that feedback to their own work. Additionally, students will investigate how to ethically create an infographic using proper citations in this visual media.

In addition to the infographic shared assignment, we have created a 24 question survey which asks questions based on our 4 assessment areas of audience, ethics, summary and design. The survey asks 6 questions per category to ensure accurate capture of data, where 2 questions per category overlap with existing survey questions asked of graduating senior students. Thus, we hope that we can capture more longitudinal student information in comparison with first-year and senior students over time. Preliminary results presented will include examples of student created infographics analyzed in our 4 assessment areas from both courses and survey data from our initial student cohorts.

Kuczenski, J. A., & Serviss, T. (2017, June), Work In Progress: First-Year Student Signature Project - Design an Infographic on "What is Technical Communication?" Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29159

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015