asee2015-one-on-onesession-mfgdiv_3_10_15_final_submission_wsu.pdf

What suggestions do you have for improving lab report

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What suggestions do you have for improving lab report handouts and/or the rubric? What do you understand the genre features of the engineering lab report to be? What genre features of the engineering lab report have you improved upon? What else, if anything, would you like to add?
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In their responses, students uniformly noted that the one-on-one conference sessions with the instructor were the most helpful in improving their lab report writing skills. Students observed that the one-on-one sessions were useful because the instructor highlighted specifics from the draft and provided detailed feedback on both what was working in their lab reports and where to focus on improving for next time. Students appreciated the rubric because it itemized the specific features of the genre and demonstrated the range for understanding where to improve. As shown in Figure 2, the average scores of Lab 2 reports were improved by approximately 15% when compared with Lab 1 reports. Students also noted that the lab report handout was useful because it emphasized a rhetorical approach to writing lab reports by reviewing rhetorical terms (the rhetorical triangle, rhetorical appeals, for example) and then highlighting the rhetorical features of engineering lab reports. They also appreciated that the handout included a list of what was/was not rhetorically appropriate for the lab report genre (no first person, succinct language, for example). Student responses, too, demonstrated a learned awareness of the genre features of engineering lab reports. In addition to identifying the need for succinct language and the inappropriateness of using first Person (“I”) in lab reports, they identified the need to develop background context and to establish the purpose the lab experiment upfront in the lab report introduction. They also discussed both the use and appropriate placement of figures and tables as a feature of engineering lab reports. Of note, they elaborated on the use of figures/tables to emphasize that the type of visual must be carefully chosen and dependent on the kind of data and how it is being used (that is, a table is appropriate in situation X while a graph is most appropriate in situation Y). Students also emphasized the importance of science/data in developing their lab reports, pointing in particular the need to use sources to validate and make credible the results from lab experiments in lab reports. During the focus group, students were able to call upon the rhetorical understanding of writing that they were introduced to in their first-year composition courses, and to talk about genre-specific features of engineering lab reports. 5. Conclusion This research suggests that students can benefit from a rhetorical approach to teaching lab report writing in engineering lab courses. This study demonstrates that the assessment scores of students’ lab reports were found to improve when engineering laboratory courses implemented a rhetorical writing into lab writing instruction. By approaching the lab report as a distinct genre
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