Faculty and Student Perceptions of the Impacts of Communication in the Disciplines (CID) on Students’ Development as Engineers
Journal article, 2019
Background:Research suggests that communication instruction is particularly effective when situated indisciplinary courses. While studies show that this approach improves communication skills, less is known about how itenhances engineering learning. Literature review:Prior work includes approaches to integrating communication intoengineering, studies of writing to learn, and explorations of the role of communication in identity development. Research question:How might the integration of communication instruction and practice into undergraduateengineering courses support engineering learning? Methodology:Because little is known about how communicationinstruction enhances engineering learning, we conducted an exploratory case study of an established integratedprogram in one European university. Participants included six engineering instructors, five engineering program heads,and six engineering students. Using interviews and focus groups, we explored the engineering-specific gains thatfaculty and students perceived from integrating communication assignments into engineering courses. Results:Ouranalysis yielded three salient areas of learning: 1. understanding disciplinary content, 2. selecting importantinformation, and 3. justifying choices. While the first aligns tightly with writing-to-learn research, all three themes, infact, bridge content learning and disciplinary literacy to enhance students’ development as engineering professionals. Conclusions:Communication instruction can potentially support engineering learning through assignments that promptstudents to select information in ways that are consistent with both disciplinary values and the needs of stakeholders,and make and justify decisions about approaches and solutions in ways that demonstrate sound engineering judgment.
integrating content andlanguage
Communication in the disciplines