Date of Award

5-9-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Lyneé Lewis Gaillet

Second Advisor

Ashley Holmes

Third Advisor

George Pullman

Abstract

When the Accreditation board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) implemented Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000), the new accreditation criteria prompted a distinct shift in technical writing pedagogy, specifically in technical communication classes at universities that require technical writing classes as part of their engineering curriculum. The changes in technical writing classes were made primarily in response to criterion g of ABET’s Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs: graduating student must possess “an ability to communicate effectively,” especially since engineering curriculum often require a single technical writing class to meet the needs of criterion g.

This study explores the connection between the technical writing classroom and professional engineering to determine how well technical writing classes prepare engineers for the writing demands of their future careers and to identify changes that can be made to better prepare students for their future jobs. Data was collected from instructors of technical writing classes to determine the instructors’ views of the time engineers spend reading and writing specific documents, the types of documents instructors require in their classes, and the criterion used for evaluation. The findings indicate that overall, instructors have a clear understanding of the reading and writing requirements of professional engineers. However, the study also finds that instructors do not require assignments that parallel professional engineering requirements. To help better prepare engineering students for the writing requirements of their selected profession, instructors should work to find sample documents that parallel professional engineering and should incorporate reading and analysis of those documents in technical writing classes.

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