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Title: A Longitudinal Study of the Integration of Writing Support in a Multi-Semester Senior Capstone Course
ABET lists the ability to communicate in writing to both technical and non-technical audiences as a required outcome for baccalaureate engineering students [1]. From emails and memos to formal reports, the ability to communicate is vital to the engineering profession. This Work in Progress paper describes research being done as part of an NSF-funded project, Writing Assignment Tutor Training in STEM (WATTS). The method is designed to improve feedback writing tutors without technical backgrounds give to engineering students on technical reports. Students in engineering programs have few opportunities to develop their writing skills. Usually, composition courses are part of the general education curriculum. Students often see these courses as unrelated to their majors and careers [2]. Ideally, writing support should be integrated throughout a program. Since WATTs capitalizes on existing resources and requires only a modest amount of faculty time, it could enable engineering programs to provide additional writing support to students in multiple courses and provide a bridge for them to see the connection between writing concepts learned in composition courses and their technical reports. WATTS was developed in a junior-level circuit analysis course, where students were completing the same lab and writing individual reports. This paper focuses on a senior more » capstone course that utilizes concepts taught in previous courses to prepare students to complete an independent team research or design project. Projects are unique, usually based on the needs of an industrial sponsor, and are completed over three consecutive semesters. Each semester, teams write a report based on their activities during that semester, with a comprehensive report in the final semester. The multi-semester nature of the senior design project provides an opportunity for the researchers to chart longitudinal changes from the first to the students’ third semester interactions with the writing tutors, assessing the value of an integrated approach. The program’s impact on students’ attitudes toward revision and the value of tutoring, as well as the impact on tutors, are part of the assessment plan. The program hopes to change the students’ focus from simply presenting their results to communicating them. The goals of the project are to demonstrate to students that revision is essential to the writing process and that feedback can improve their written communication abilities. The expectation is that after graduation they will continue to seek critical feedback as part of their career growth. Surveys given to both students and tutors revealed that the sessions were taken seriously by the students and that meaningful collaboration was achieved between them. An evaluation of the writing in pre-tutored to final submitted report shows statistically significant improvement. Preliminary and current results will be included within the paper. [1] Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Technology Programs, ABET, Baltimore, MD., 2020, p.5, ETAC Criteria (abet.org) [2] Bergmann, L. S. and Zepernick, J., “Disciplinarity and Transfer: Students’ Perceptions of Learning to Write,” Writing Program Administration, 31, Fall/Winter 2007. « less
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
2013496
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10356174
Journal Name:
2022 ASEE North Central Section Annual Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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