Writing to Learn Engineering: Identifying Effective Techniques for the Integration of Written Communication Into Engineering Classes and Curricula


Proficiency in technical writing is a highly desirable attribute for engineering graduates, and improvement of communication skills among undergraduate engineering students can help enhance the competitiveness of U.S. technical talent in an increasingly global engineering market. This project responds to the need for improved communication skills in engineering by directly addressing challenges associated with incorporating writing-based instructional techniques in traditional technical classes. More specifically, the goals of this project are to develop, validate, and disseminate high-impact, scalable techniques for integrating writing in existing engineering courses and curricula. The project addressed common instructor-level challenges that often preclude the inclusion of writing in engineering coursework. This project is primarily focused on required, large-lecture engineering courses where writing typically does not occur, and where ample opportunities exist to train faculty to implement simple, scalable writing activities, exercises, and related assessments. This study involves systematic investigation of how such activities can potentially enhance student learning of both writing and course-specific technical skills. The project also surveyed faculty and staff at multiple institutions to evaluate current attitudes toward writing in engineering, while identifying the most scalable and sustainable writing interventions from the standpoint of instructors and institutions.


Brent Jesiek, Josh Boyd, Purdue University; Becca Essig, Purdue University Fort Wayne; Natasha Trellinger Buswell, University of California-Irvine.


National Science Foundation, Engineering Education