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Writing as a Method to Build Better Engineers: Examining Faculty Perceptions of Writing’s Importance

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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

IED Technical Session: Preparing Students for the Future

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Kovalchuk Montana State University

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Elizabeth Kovalchuk received her BS in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering from Montana State University in 2017 while serving as a writing tutor and peer coordinator at the campus writing center. She currently works for Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, WA as an Industrial Engineer. Her research interests include engineering education, engineering management, and narrative training.

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William J. Schell IV P.E. Montana State University Orcid 16x16

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William J. Schell holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial and Management Engineering from Montana State University (MSU). He is Associate Professor in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering and Associate Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center at MSU with research interests in engineering education and the role of leadership and culture in process improvement. His research is supported by the NSF and industry and has received numerous national and international awards. He is an elected Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Management and serves as an Associate Editor for both the Engineering Management Journal and Quality Approaches in Higher Education. Prior to his academic career, Schell spent 14 years in industry where he held leadership positions focused on process improvement and organizational development.

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Writing is a critical skill for professional communication, providing a way to develop and examine ideas, and a method to test learning. When perceived as meaningful by the writer, writing is fundamental for identity formation in disciplines, such as engineering. The formation of an engineering identity is an area of increasing interest in engineering education research due to its link to student retention, particularly for those underrepresented in the profession.

In addition, industry demands that engineering graduates possess improved abilities to communicate in a variety of mediums and cross-culturally. Improved integration of writing into the technical curriculum could serve as a concrete method to develop these critical skills and attributes while potentially improving student retention. Despite these numerous benefits and efforts to increase engineering writing through efforts like Writing Across the Curriculum, it seems most engineering programs do little to engage their students in meaningful writing. This study investigates faculty perceptions regarding the role and importance of writing in undergraduate engineering curricula as a factor in writing’s integration in engineering educational practices.

This study examined faculty perceptions of writing in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University , gauged where and in what capacity writing assignments occurred across the curricula in the college, and examined faculty opinions held on writing and its relation to the technical aspects of engineering education. This study provides a baseline for understanding areas of future improvement and integration of writing into the engineering curricula.

Kovalchuk, E., & Schell, W. J. (2018, June), Writing as a Method to Build Better Engineers: Examining Faculty Perceptions of Writing’s Importance Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31318

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