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Using writing to enhance collaborative learning in engineering courses

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2 Author(s)
Wheeler, E. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Virginia Mil. Inst., Lexington, VA, USA ; McDonald, R.L.

Many educators use collaborative learning in engineering courses. After detailing their efforts to employ collaborative efforts in their classrooms, the authors argue that these efforts can be enhanced and augmented by the thorough integration of writing. They give specific classroom examples of their recent efforts toward this end in three engineering courses-circuit analysis, solid state devices and senior design. They explore writing in general terms as a process that allows collaborative learning to be more efficient and effective. They argue the use of writing, both as a learning tool and as a means of communication, can result in a qualitative improvement in collaborative efforts, that it is useful for addressing problems of students with a variety of learning styles, and that it is a flexible learning tool in developing critical thinking. Writing can be used to allow students adverse to group work and those who communicate poorly to participate more fully in collaborative activities. Frequent use of writing in engineering courses can both deepen students' understanding of technical content and allow the inclusion of topics which contribute breadth. All the while, writing allows students to develop a variety of skills vital for professional success.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 1998. FIE '98. 28th Annual  (Volume:1 )

Date of Conference:

4-7 Nov. 1998

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