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Articles on Writing Across the Curriculum—Engineering

Listed below are articles on this topic from the Campus Writing Program library. Short summaries and citations are provided when available.


Covington, David H., Ann E. Brown, and Gary B. Blank. "An Alternative Approach to Writing Across the Curriculum: The Writing Assistance Program at North Carolina State University's School of Engineering." WPA: Writing Program Administration 8.3 (Spring 1985): 15-23.

The authors present an argument for creating decentralized writing centers, away from the auspices of the English Department by presenting the example of the writing center housed in the Dept. of Engineering at North Carolina State. They stress the importance of emphasizing the context of writing in designing assignments and teaching writing skills. They also offer suggestions on how to set up a program modelled on the one at NC State.

Duerden, Sarah T., Jeanne Garland, and Christine Everhart Helfers. "Profile Assignment." Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition. Eds. Duane Roen and others. Urbana, IL: NCTE. 2002. 152-164.

Profile assignments not only make students think more about their future profession, but also both underscore that writing is for a purpose and teach how to incorporate quotations in a natural fashion. A sample assignment for engineering students is provided, as well as two variations suitable for non-engineering students. Some supplemental student information is likewise provided.

Herrington, Anne J. "Classrooms as Forums for Reasoning and Writing." College Composition and Communication 36.4 (Dec. 1985): 404- 413

Author studied a chemical engineering lab course and a chemistry course, observing both courses, interviewing students and professors, and analyzing papers written by students in both courses. Argues that writing in the lab course teaches students discourse conventions of the discipline, but also allows students to clarify their understanding of abstract concepts. In the other course, writing was supposed to have a more professional purpose ("imagine your audience is a boss in industry"). Compares the student-to-professor writing situation with the writing-in-a-disciplinary-community situation.

Herrington, Anne J. "Writing in Academic Settings: A Study of the Contexts for Writing in Two College Chemical Engineering Courses." Research in the Teaching of English 19.4 (Dec. 1985): 331- 359.

Herrington studied the contexts for writing in two chemical engineering classes. She surveyed all students and professors, conducted interviews with students and professors, observed class, and analyzed claims and warrants in student papers. Herrington found that each class was a separate community, with its own issues, lines of reasoning, writer and audience roles, and social purposes for writing. This study illustrates the problems that can arise when a professor gives mixed messages about audience for writing or when there's no issue in writing (e.g., in Lab, where both the students and the professor know that the lab has been done many times before so there's no new information).

Manuel-Dupont, Sonia. "Writing-Across-the-Curriculum in an Engineering Program." Journal of Engineering Education 85.1 (January 1996): 35-40.

This article describes a WAC approach to technical communication in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Utah State University. In addition to a detailed description of the writing sequence used in two courses, Manuel-Dupont surveys a variety of other WAC programs in engineering programs across the country, and briefly discusses staffing issues related to these programs. USU's courses emphasize the connection between the content and delivery of the message, and include interaction between engineering and writing faculty.

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