Beginning in 2008, the Technical Communication Program has developed a series of instructional modules addressing specific communication tasks that are relevant across multiple courses. While the main goal of the modules is to provide materials that instructors in the College of Engineering can use in their own courses to provide basic instruction in communication skills, the modules can also help faculty in designing their own communication assignments; provide a refresher for senior design students who have already taken EPD 397, and offer programs a means of assessing student performance in ABET’s Student Outcomes. (Grossenbacher and Matta, 2011, and in progress) The materials for individual modules may vary, but the common components include learning objectives, an instructional screencast, an online quiz with interactive feedback, and a sample grading rubric that faculty can adapt for their own use.
We selected the topics for the pilot modules through a College-wide survey determining faculty expectations and priorities in seventeen communication areas, then determining the areas faculty considered most important and in which students consistently did not meet expectations: outlining and organizing technical documents (macro-organization), creating internal logic and consistency in documents (micro-organization), using technical graphics, and giving presentations. Since then, we have expanded the series to include the following topics:
- Macro-Organization: Logic and Structure of the Complete Document
- Micro-Organization: Unifying Paragraphs; Creating Transitions
- Arguments and Persuasion in Proposal Problem Statements
- Writing Introductions to Final Reports
- Integrating Graphics into Documents
- Using Equations in Documents
- Presentation Basics
- Conducting Credible Research and Evaluating Sources
- Engineering Ethics (in progress)
- Working in Engineering Teams (in progress)
We are currently identifying additional areas/skills for future modules.
Faculty in the College of Engineering at UW-Madison may find the modules in COE’s Moodle via this link (requires UW NetID): https://special.moodle.wisc.edu/prod/course/view.php?id=145.
For more information about the goals and outcomes of this project, please contact Laura Grossenbacher, Director, Technical Communication Program and Director of Undergraduate Program Review.
We would like to thank the College of Engineering and the University Assessment Council for supporting the development and assessment of these modules.