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Work in progress: Integrating writing instruction in engineering courses

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2 Author(s)
Teslenko, T. ; Centre for Prof. Skills Dev., Univ. of British Columbia Vancouver, Vancouver, BC, Canada ; Qi, E.

Communication modules were incorporated within engineering projects in an integrated second-year mechanical engineering curriculum. Students learned to identify appropriate communicative strategies and obtained problem-solving experience through design, prototype development, testing, and reporting, with additional activities related to team building and community service learning. The integration process required collaboration among instructors teaching various disciplines and presented challenges that are discussed in the paper. The authors argue that incorporating writing modules with engineering projects adds a substantial emphasis on communication and teamwork and allows students to explore human and social dimensions of engineering. From describing their projects, students move towards the exploration of rhetorical and ethical implications of engineering practice and an understanding of their professional identity. Instructor feedback indicates that students' motivation has improved, their engagement and enthusiasm have increased, and learning outcomes have consistently been achieved. Student feedback has been positive and encouraging; they self-report that they are better prepared for taking upper-level courses. The authors conclude that students are likely enabled to reach higher levels of knowledge in senior courses.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2012

Date of Conference:

3-6 Oct. 2012