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Writing Self Assessment For First Year Engineering Students: Initial Findings, Chris Leslie, Elisa Linsky

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Writing and Communication II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1431.1 - 9.1431.16

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Paper Authors

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Elisa Linsky

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Gunter Georgi

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

Document: 2004-1744

Writing Self-Assessment for First-Year Engineering Students: Initial Findings

Chris Leslie, Elisa Linsky, Gunter Georgi

Polytechnic University

Seeking to understand what and how students are learning about writing in its first-year engineering course, we have implemented an assessment project for Polytechnic University’s core engineering course. Building on an innovative Writing Consultant program that already was implemented for EG 1004, Introduction to Engineering and Design, the assessment project draws several projects from English composition instruction to improve the communications skills of engineering students. Through the generous support of the Engineering Information Foundation (EIF), we were able to develop the program and implement it in three sections in the Fall 2003 semester, providing valuable insights into the assessment process and this project in particular. The project has continued in Spring 2004, expanding its scope and building on the lessons learned from the fall. This interim report describes the original conception of the program, the results obtained in the fall semester, and presents the improvements made to the project based on those results. The project was successful in creating a dialogue between students and instructors, and among instructors, about the assessment of writing. This dialogue allowed instructors to quickly correct student misconceptions, gave students a critical standpoint for evaluating their own writing, and offered them a forum to discuss their writing issues in a nonthreatening setting before getting a formal grade on a report.

A. Introduction

Starting with the assumption that students need to know more about writing than what information belongs in what section of a lab report, this program asks students to become involved in assessing their own work. We chose this approach because it leads students to approach writing as an apprenticeship in a larger community of scientific writers, instead of writing reports as a classroom exercise. The traditional grading of lab reports tends to focus on mechanical aspects of writing, such as grammar and format, leaving equally important issues such as logic and reliability to be neglected. This approach results in empty reports, where student simply follow a formulaic pattern to fill up the pages of the report without considering how the parts fit together. For students who are learning English as a second language, traditional instruction leads them to believe that matching nouns and verbs is more important than proving a scientific argument. The approach we describe in this paper encourages students to examine the process of technical communication, express the design principles behind their work, and consider how to communicate effectively.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering

Linsky, E., & Georgi, G. (2004, June), Writing Self Assessment For First Year Engineering Students: Initial Findings, Chris Leslie, Elisa Linsky Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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