(479b) Know Your Audience: Expanding the Range of Scientific Communication in the Classroom | AIChE

(479b) Know Your Audience: Expanding the Range of Scientific Communication in the Classroom


Wilson, S. - Presenter, University of Kentucky
While the development of communication skills is critical to a successful career in engineering, teaching these skills continues to be one of the biggest challenges to engineering faculty. In a traditional chemical engineering curriculum, students focus on communication of results through formal lab reports and presentations that are directed at expert audiences (i.e., other students and faculty). While these assignments can successfully represent the technical understanding of the student, they are not fully representative of the communication skills required of a bachelor level engineer in industry. The critical difference between what is taught in the classroom and what is required in an industry career is the audience. To better prepare students for their careers, it is crucial for students to learn to communicate to both scientific and non-scientific audiences. As a result, assignments were developed to allow students to practice communication of technical content to expert, business and non-technical audiences. In each of these assignments, students are challenged to understand how their audience can change not only the language that must be used, but also how the work should be motivated to interest the reader. Through student-led peer-revision sessions, students reflect on the effectiveness of an assignment at targeting a specific audience. These informal discussions allow students to solidify their understanding of the material and their communication approach, resulting in improvement of the assignment prior to submission for grading. While it is impossible to prepare students for every form of communication that will be required of them in industry, expanding the range of communication assignments in the classroom helps to reinforce a key requirement for successful communication: knowing your audience.