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Writing As A Design Practice: A Preliminary Assessment

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Teaching Effective Communications

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1329.1 - 7.1329.13



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Paper Authors

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David Hutto

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Kathryn Hollar

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Eric Constans

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Anthony Marchese

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Roberta Harvey

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Bernard Pietrucha

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 2561

Writing as a Design Practice: A Preliminary Assessment

Roberta Harvey and David Hutto College of Communication, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

Kathryn Hollar, Eric Constans, Bernard Pietrucha and Anthony Marchese College of Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

This paper presents the results of a preliminary study that forms the basis of a proposal to the National Science Foundation Assessment of Student Achievement program. The proposal, entitled Invention, Communication, and Documentation: Assessing the Impact of Writing as a Multi-Function Design Tool, outlines a two-year project to develop methods of assessing the effectiveness of engineering students’ use of writing as a design practice. Engineering educators have long recognized the importance of effective written communication skills, and many programs have incorporated an emphasis on written communication within their curriculums. Indeed, the ABET 2000 criteria not only emphasized writing skills but also specifically located responsibility for writing instruction within the engineering program itself:

Competence in written communication in the English language is essential for the engineering graduate. Although specific coursework requirements serve as a foundation for such competence, the development and enhancement of writing skills must be demonstrated through student work in engineering work and other courses. 1

Whereas the ABET criteria prior to 2000 had specified courses and content—providing essentially a curriculum checklist—these new criteria focused on objectives. Programs were asked to show that students had actually attained certain objectives and not merely taken prescribed courses. 2 This statement, often referred in the literature as EC3(g), thus implied that engineering students needed to have more than a generic mastery of written communication. Updates of the EAC since 2000 do not actually include this language, but the impact remains. With their emphasis on objectives, ABET has streamlined the criteria to the extent that there is now very little reference at all to courses as such. ABET now leaves it to individual engineering programs to articulate specific objectives and assessment methods that meet a general requirement for “effective communication.” For example, at Rowan University, the ABET document listing programmatic goals states that all students should “develop communication skills so that they can perform engineering functions effectively.” 3 The linking of communication skills to engineering functions echoes the intent of the 2000 statement and calls for engineering-specific objectives for the teaching of writing.

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Hutto, D., & Hollar, K., & Constans, E., & Marchese, A., & Harvey, R., & Pietrucha, B. (2002, June), Writing As A Design Practice: A Preliminary Assessment Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10690

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