(457c) Flipping Writing Revisions: Students Devise Self-Revision through Reflection in the Engineering Laboratory

Gomez, J., University of New Mexico
Hubka, C., University of New Mexico
Svihla, V., University of New Mexico
Miletic, M., University of New Mexico
Datye, A. K., University of New Mexico
Chi, E. Y., University of New Mexico
A balance is yet to be struck between writing to learn and communication in the workplace across the engineering curriculum. Most engineering students find writing reports in core courses, including laboratory sequences, challenging or a task of reporting ‘just the data’, presenting a conundrum to instructors: How do we support engineering students to think deeply about core concepts and discipline-specific discourse simultaneously? Engineering faculty who teach laboratory often find grading to be burdensome, time-consuming, and unsustainable in the long-term. Furthermore, industry members want engineers who can communicate across different audiences in the corporate domain. This study focuses on a small group reflective writing activity designed with several goals in mind: sustainability and promoting critical self-assessment through reflection, a tool well-acknowledged as key to student learning and professional identity development. Participants include students (N=52) enrolled in a junior-level Chemical Engineering Laboratory II course at a large minority-serving research university in the American Southwest. A core English writing instructor was embedded in the course to assist students with written communication to a broader audience across the boundaries of the discipline. There were three major student deliverables in the laboratory: two individual short reports and one oral presentation per team. The reflection activity with each team was facilitated in the second round of short reports. We conducted mixed methods analysis on the student work. Individual student reflections were assessed by all the course instructors using the following criteria: indication of deep thought which translated into an audience-minded revision plan or sufficient argument against revision and specific evidence cited to support their perspective on revision. The activity was designed as a guided reflection on each section of the report reminding students that a report is a narrative, and the content of each section should advance that narrative. Higher scores were recorded for student reflections that included specific evidence from the report itself and direct language about readers or audience needs. Reflections that neglected to mention the reader’s needs, or the writer’s impact on the reader, and read like a to-do list received lower scores than reflections that mentioned one or more of the criteria. We found the reflections tended to fall into three categories: defense of rhetorical choices, fix errors like a to-do list, and audience-minded revision plans. Students’ ability to have adaptable writing styles for different audiences was also evidenced by their citing of real world applications as broader context for an experiment in the report. The reflection activity provides students the opportunity to go beyond a typical checklist of report corrections to self-revising with audience in mind.