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.

engineering education

integrating content andlanguage

disciplinary discourse

Communication in the disciplines


Marie C. Paretti

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Andreas Eriksson

Chalmers, Communication and Learning in Science, Language and Communication

Magnus Gustafsson

Chalmers, Communication and Learning in Science, Language and Communication

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication

0361-1434 (ISSN) 15581500 (eISSN)

Vol. 62 1 27-42 8640263

Subject Categories

Languages and Literature

Educational Sciences

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work



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