And a focus group show that students found one on one

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and a focus group show that students found one-on-one sessions reinforced their learning from first-year composition courses, identified the expectations of the lab report as a genre, and developed their understanding of the rhetorical features of writing in the discipline of engineering. 1. Introduction Hands-on learning experiences such as laboratory activities, design projects, and/or capstone projects are the favored experiences of engineering students during their undergraduate education; however, writing reports is often expressed as one of their least favorite experiences. Indeed, engineering students enjoy working with machines, instruments, and numbers rather than words. The reality, though, is that effective written communication is a necessary competency
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for engineers because engineers actually spend 20 to 40 percent of their workday writing [1]. For this very reason, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology [2] has addressed in criterion 3g that “an ability to communicate effectively” in the professional context s is essential for accreditation, and engineering programs nationwide have implemented extensive writing components in their curricular. Although engineering undergraduates are exposed to writing curricula such as first-year composition in their early program of study, they sometimes have difficulties in meeting the expectations of writing within the discipline and in courses in the major (to list a few recent papers, [3,4]). Washington State University (WSU) has identified writing skills as an instructional priority and established the Writing Assessment Program to support writing instruction throughout a student’s undergraduate career. Students are placed into first -year composition course options based on a writing diagnostic (a timed writing exam), and this serves as a lower- division, general education requirement. When they become juniors, students submit a mid- career portfolio, the ‘junior writing portfolio’ (JWP), to assess their preparedness for the kinds of writing tasks they will be asked to perform in upper-division courses. The JWP includes both a timed writing exam and three graded papers from completed course work. JWPs are evaluated by a trained group of faculty from across the disciplines in the institution. For upper division coursework, students are required to take two writing-in-the-major courses, courses that serve to meet both university requirements for writing and course work requirements for the degree. Recognized by the U.S. News & World Report rankings for the last 10 years, WSU s writing in the disciplines program functions as a national leader for prioritizing writing across courses, and for emphasizing a rhetorical approach to writing support wherein students are asked to produce a variety of genres for different audiences and disciplines.
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