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Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering:Case Studies from MIT

Cover Image Copyright Year: 2010
Author(s): Mya Poe; Neal Lerner; Jennifer Craig; James Paradis
Publisher: MIT Press
Content Type : Books & eBooks
Topics: Engineering Profession
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Abstract

To many science and engineering students, the task of writing may seem irrelevant to their future professional careers. At MIT, however, students discover that writing about their technical work is important not only in solving real-world problems but also in developing their professional identities. MIT puts into practice the belief that "engineers who don't write well end up working for engineers who do write well," requiring all students to take "communications-intensive" classes in which they learn from MIT faculty and writing instructors how to express their ideas in writing and in presentations. Students are challenged not only to think like professional scientists and engineers but also to communicate like them.This book offers in-depth case studies and pedagogical strategies from a range of science and engineering communication-intensive classes at MIT. It traces the progress of seventeen students from diverse backgrounds in seven classes that span five departments. Undergraduates in biology attempt to turn scientific findings into a research article; graduate students learn to define their research for scientific grant writing; undergraduates in biomedical engineering learn to use data as evidence; and students in aeronautic and astronautic engineering learn to communicate collaboratively. Each case study is introduced by a description of its theoretical and curricular context and an outline of the objectives for the students' activities. The studies describe the on-the-ground realities of working with faculty, staff, and students to achieve communication and course goals, offering lessons that can be easily applied to a wide variety of settings and institutions.

  •   Click to expandTable of Contents

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      Front Matter

      Page(s): i - 18
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Half Title, Title, Copyright, Contents, Foreword, Acknowledgments, Introduction View full abstract»

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      First Steps in Writing a Scientific Identity

      Page(s): 19 - 49
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Learning to Write in Introduction to Experimental Biology and Communication, Summary of Introduction to Experimental Biology and Communication View full abstract»

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      Taking On the Identity of a Professional Researcher

      Page(s): 51 - 79
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Learning to Write in Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering, Summary of Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering View full abstract»

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      Carving Out a Research Niche

      Page(s): 81 - 111
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Learning How to Persuade Grant Reviewers in Frontiers in (Bio)medical Engineering and Physics, Learning How to Sell Science, Summary of Frontiers in (Bio)medical Engineering and Physics View full abstract»

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      Learning to Argue with Data

      Page(s): 113 - 146
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Focusing on Visual Evidence in Quantitative Physiology, Learning to Argue with DataSummary of Quantitative Physiology View full abstract»

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      Writing and Speaking Collaboratively

      Page(s): 147 - 184
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Learning Collaborative Communication in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Key Findings: What Students and Engineering Faculty Say about Learning to Write and to Speak Collaboratively, Summary of Writing and Speaking Collaboratively View full abstract»

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      Conclusions

      Page(s): 185 - 200
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: The Learner and Student Development, The Influence and Context of Schooling, The Teacher or Teaching Team, Communication Assignments, Assessment of Student Performance, Program Assessment and Development, A Last Word: What It Means to Communicate as a Scientist and Engineer View full abstract»

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      Data Collection Methods

      Page(s): 201 - 208
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: First Steps in Writing a Scientific Identity, Taking On the Identity of a Professional Researcher, Carving Out a Research Niche, Learning to Argue with Data, Writing and Speaking Collaboratively View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Data Collection Instruments

      Page(s): 209 - 236
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      This chapter contains sections titled: Writing a Scientific Identity: First Steps, Taking On the Identity of a Professional Researcher, Carving Out a Research Niche, Learning to Argue with Data, Writing and Speaking Collaboratively View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      References

      Page(s): 237 - 248
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      To many science and engineering students, the task of writing may seem irrelevant to their future professional careers. At MIT, however, students discover that writing about their technical work is important not only in solving real-world problems but also in developing their professional identities. MIT puts into practice the belief that "engineers who don't write well end up working for engineers who do write well," requiring all students to take "communications-intensive" classes in which they learn from MIT faculty and writing instructors how to express their ideas in writing and in presentations. Students are challenged not only to think like professional scientists and engineers but also to communicate like them.This book offers in-depth case studies and pedagogical strategies from a range of science and engineering communication-intensive classes at MIT. It traces the progress of seventeen students from diverse backgrounds in seven classes that span five departments. Undergraduates in biology attempt to turn scientific findings into a research article; graduate students learn to define their research for scientific grant writing; undergraduates in biomedical engineering learn to use data as evidence; and students in aeronautic and astronautic engineering learn to communicate collaboratively. Each case study is introduced by a description of its theoretical and curricular context and an outline of the objectives for the students' activities. The studies describe the on-the-ground realities of working with faculty, staff, and students to achieve communication and course goals, offering lessons that can be easily applied to a wide variety of settings and institutions. View full abstract»

    • Full text access may be available. Click article title to sign in or learn about subscription options.

      Index

      Page(s): 249 - 256
      Copyright Year: 2010

      MIT Press eBook Chapters

      To many science and engineering students, the task of writing may seem irrelevant to their future professional careers. At MIT, however, students discover that writing about their technical work is important not only in solving real-world problems but also in developing their professional identities. MIT puts into practice the belief that "engineers who don't write well end up working for engineers who do write well," requiring all students to take "communications-intensive" classes in which they learn from MIT faculty and writing instructors how to express their ideas in writing and in presentations. Students are challenged not only to think like professional scientists and engineers but also to communicate like them.This book offers in-depth case studies and pedagogical strategies from a range of science and engineering communication-intensive classes at MIT. It traces the progress of seventeen students from diverse backgrounds in seven classes that span five departments. Undergraduates in biology attempt to turn scientific findings into a research article; graduate students learn to define their research for scientific grant writing; undergraduates in biomedical engineering learn to use data as evidence; and students in aeronautic and astronautic engineering learn to communicate collaboratively. Each case study is introduced by a description of its theoretical and curricular context and an outline of the objectives for the students' activities. The studies describe the on-the-ground realities of working with faculty, staff, and students to achieve communication and course goals, offering lessons that can be easily applied to a wide variety of settings and institutions. View full abstract»