Examining engineering writing instruction at a large research university through the lens of writing studies

John Y. Yoritomo, Nicole Turnipseed, S. Lance Cooper, Celia Mathews Elliott, John R. Gallagher, John S. Popovics, Paul Prior, Julie L. Zilles

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

Abstract

Recognizing challenges to developing undergraduate engineering students' writing, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering invited instructional innovation proposals to tackle this issue. Bringing together faculty and graduate students from engineering and writing studies, our team proposed first researching current undergraduate writing instruction in engineering at our large research university. We applied a mixed-methods approach, including administering surveys, conducting discourse-based interviews, collecting course documents, and analyzing curricular pathways. Our team also examined best practices found in writing studies research. We found that current writing assignments are rarely well aligned with professional genres, that current writing instruction often does not employ best practices from the writing studies literature, and that departmental curricula do not distribute writing across the four-year programs. Our findings suggest the potential for substantive writing instruction improvements in our College of Engineering. In this paper, we document our findings and propose a path to improving writing instruction for undergraduate engineering students, beginning with educating our engineering faculty about best practices and helping them implement those practices in their classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages22
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume2018-June
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

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Technical writing
Lenses
Students
Curricula
Innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

Cite this

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title = "Examining engineering writing instruction at a large research university through the lens of writing studies",
abstract = "Recognizing challenges to developing undergraduate engineering students' writing, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering invited instructional innovation proposals to tackle this issue. Bringing together faculty and graduate students from engineering and writing studies, our team proposed first researching current undergraduate writing instruction in engineering at our large research university. We applied a mixed-methods approach, including administering surveys, conducting discourse-based interviews, collecting course documents, and analyzing curricular pathways. Our team also examined best practices found in writing studies research. We found that current writing assignments are rarely well aligned with professional genres, that current writing instruction often does not employ best practices from the writing studies literature, and that departmental curricula do not distribute writing across the four-year programs. Our findings suggest the potential for substantive writing instruction improvements in our College of Engineering. In this paper, we document our findings and propose a path to improving writing instruction for undergraduate engineering students, beginning with educating our engineering faculty about best practices and helping them implement those practices in their classes.",
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AU - Popovics, John S.

AU - Prior, Paul

AU - Zilles, Julie L.

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