ERIC Number: ED333460
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Mar-23
Reference Count: 0
Composition and Professional Education: A Case Study of an Engineering Student.
A case study of a senior in mechanical engineering was undertaken to test the hypothesis that rhetorical theory can help students make sense of specialized discourse. The essay the subject finally produced concerning the rhetorical features in a technical engineering paper extended the claim she made at the beginning of the study: the text of the engineering report was devoid of rhetorical nuance--to an outsider it was opaque, and to an insider it was transparent. The subject already had a detailed knowledge of the social context in which the technical paper was written: her problem came in trying to write about her profession to nonspecialists. The subject never took up the rhetorical approach to language advocated by the instructor. What she did do, though, was explore how to represent her intellectual experience to outsiders. To the extent that students at the sophomore level or higher are "advantaged" writers (demonstrating competence in very limited writing assignments in their major), the advantage of a general writing course is difficult for them to see. It is up to composition teachers to help them find that value, and to do so, teachers need to immerse themselves in students' academic experience, seen from their own point of view, and to entice them to extend their intellectual projects to the point where they confront challenges of literacy. (RS)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Syracuse University NY
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (42nd, Boston, MA, March 21-23, 1991).