Promoting advanced writing skills in an upper-level engineering class

B. Yalvac*, H. D. Smith, J. B. Troy, P. Hirsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


This paper summarizes the design and evaluation of an instructional approach aimed at improving the writing skills of a group of undergraduate engineering students. We sought to determine whether student performance in difficult writing skills such as argumentation and synthesis could be improved by integrating a single writing exercise into an upper level engineering course. In designing the exercise, we relied heavily on recommendations for best practices from the learning science community, specifically those codified in the National Academy text How People Learn [1]. We found reliable improvement in student performance in many of the areas targeted, demonstrating that the approach taken was effective. Since we modified the exercise a few times before meeting our objectives for student learning, we could compare the effectiveness of different implementations of our approach. Our success and failures provide guidance for others seeking to improve the competence of engineering undergraduates in writing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • How people learn
  • Role play
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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