Asee peer logo

Writing Across Engineering: A Collaborative Approach to Support STEM Faculty’s Integration of Writing Instruction in their Classes

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education Division Technical Session Session 10

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

22

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33671

Download Count

73

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Ryan Ware University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Ryan Ware is a PhD student in Writing Studies primarily interested in cultural-historical theories of writing and learning to write. He is part of an interdisciplinary team that focuses on helping STEM instructors integrate writing into their courses, and that helps departments integrate writing across undergraduate curricula.

visit author page

biography

Nicole Turnipseed University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

visit author page

Nicole Turnipseed is a PhD student in the Department of English and the Center for Writing Studies. She currently serves as Assistant Director for Center for Writing Studies. She teaches a range of writing courses and works with faculty and teaching assistants across disciplines to help hone their writing pedagogy. Her research and teaching focus on holistic literate development.

visit author page

biography

John R. Gallagher University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

I am an assistant professor of English at The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

biography

Celia Mathews Elliott University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Celia Mathews Elliott is a science writer and research administrator in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been teaching technical communications to upper-level undergraduate physics majors since 2000, and recently developed, with S. Lance Cooper, a graduate technical writing course.

visit author page

biography

John S. Popovics University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

John Popovics is a Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University and his Ph.D. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Penn State. His research interests include testing, sensing and imaging of infrastructure and geologic materials. He is also involved in efforts to improve writing skills in engineering students.

visit author page

biography

Paul Prior University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Paul Prior is the Director of the Center for Writing Studies and Professor of the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

visit author page

biography

Julie L. Zilles University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0001-8684-4519

visit author page

Dr. Zilles is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She received her B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She teaches biological principles of environmental engineering and a graduate level scientific writing class, conducts research at the intersection of microbiology and environmental engineering, and is leading an interdisciplinary collaboration between STEM and Writing Studies focused on intervention and research related to developing the writing skills of engineering undergraduates.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

"Writing Across Engineering: A Collaborative Approach to Support STEM Faculty’s Integration of Writing Instruction in their Classes"

As the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has emphasized [1], engineering students need to develop effective communication skills. Embedding communication instruction in technical courses signals to students that their profession values communication, facilitates transmission of discipline-specific conventions, and tackles difficulties associated with learning transfer [2]. However, STEM faculty seldom receive any preparation to teach writing or other types of communication. This paper describes a program designed to support STEM faculty as they work to integrate writing and writing instruction in their classes.

Situated in a college of engineering at an R1 university, we have undertaken a multi-year collaboration between STEM and Writing Studies faculty and graduate students that aims to improve engineering students’ writing and communication. Taking a transdisciplinary action research approach (3), we follow an integrative, iterative model of intervention and assessment.

Working to form and sustain a faculty learning community of practice (4, 5) that extends traditional Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) approaches (6), we designed what we call a Writing Across Engineering (WAE) program. In WAE, co-leaders from Writing Studies and STEM fields facilitate weekly workshops for a cohort of STEM faculty over a full semester; then individual faculty are supported by interdisciplinary mentoring teams as they implement changes in their courses. In this paper, we describe and provide some preliminary assessment of the initial year of WAE. Specifically, we describe the WAE syllabus, discuss what guided topic selection and ordering, illustrate how materials were adapted for a STEM audience, describe the types of mentoring projects that took place, and note challenges and limitations.

Using a mixed methods approach for formative assessment of WAE, we have administered pre-and-post surveys, collected freewrites and materials from WAE workshops, recorded mentoring sessions, collected course materials from before and after intervention, and conducted interviews and classroom observations with mentored faculty and their TAs. While analyses of this large dataset are ongoing, preliminary analysis of WAE is promising. For example, all post-survey respondents reported making changes in their writing instruction and having higher confidence in their preparedness to teach specific features related to writing processes. The three faculty who participated in the mentoring made changes ranging from extensive redesign of a key writing assignment in a small grad class to a broad revision of assignment sequences, assessment materials, TA training practices, and instructional approaches in a large writing-intensive undergraduate course.

Based on our experiences to date, we suggest this approach has helped engineering faculty in various specializations sharpen their identities as writers and writing instructors and offers a model for program- and college-level interventions to enhance engineering instruction in writing and communication. References: [1] Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Criteria for accrediting applied science programs, 2015–2016. 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-applied-and-natural-science-programs-2018-2019/#GC2

[2] Salamon, G., & Perkins, D. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanism of a neglected phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24, 113-142.

[3]. Stokols, D. (2006). Toward a science of transdisciplinary action research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 63-77.

[4] Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[5] Jovanovic, V., & Tombolato-Terzic, D., & Richards, D. & Pazos, P., & McKittrick, M., & Romberger, J., & Popescu, O. (2017, June). Developing a faculty learning community to support writing across different STEM disciplines. Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://www.asee.org/public/conferences/78/papers/19747/view

[6] Walvoord, B. E., & Hunt, L. L., & Dowling, H. F., & McMahon, J. D. (1997). In the long run: A study of faculty in three writing-across-the-curriculum programs. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Ware, R., & Turnipseed, N., & Gallagher, J. R., & Elliott, C. M., & Popovics, J. S., & Prior, P., & Zilles, J. L. (2019, June), Writing Across Engineering: A Collaborative Approach to Support STEM Faculty’s Integration of Writing Instruction in their Classes Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33671

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: © 2019 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