ERIC Number: EJ915280
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Abstractor: As Provided
Ten Engineers Reading: Disjunctions between Preference and Practice in Civil Engineering Faculty Responses
Taylor, Summer Smith; Patton, Martha D.
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, v36 n3 p253-271 2006
Previous research has indicated that engineering faculty do not follow best practices when commenting on students' technical writing. However, it is unclear whether the faculty prefer to comment in these ineffective ways, or whether they prefer more effective practices but simply do not enact them. This study adapts a well known study of response in composition to ask whether engineering faculty prefer authoritative, form-focused comments, or whether they may prefer to write different sorts of comments. We asked ten civil engineering faculty to comment on a sample paper and then rank their preferences for provided versions of comments on the same paper. One provided version emphasized comments on content, one emphasized comments on form, and one was balanced. Comparisons of the respondents' preferences and practices suggest that the engineering faculty recognize and value content-focused, non-authoritative responses, but generally do not write comments that conform to these values. We consider the implication of these findings for research on response to technical writing as well as for technical writing faculty in their own course. While recognizing the need for more research, we also discuss ways in which writing professionals, including WAC administrators and technical writing professors, can encourage engineering faculty to enact their preferences for response styles that reflect best practices.
Descriptors: Technical Writing, Civil Engineering, Feedback (Response), Grading, Student Evaluation, Best Practices, Engineering Education, Writing Instruction, Content Area Writing, Teaching Methods, College Instruction, College Faculty, Teacher Attitudes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
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