Thursday, August 13, 2009

Topic: Goals for Writing in Electrical Engineering

10-second review: Document procedures, definition of problems, proposals, abstracts of technical documents, selling an idea, document a project and explain technical information.

Title: “Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Arizona, Writing Outcomes.” EM White. College Composition and Communication (June 2005), 598-599.A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).


1. Document a procedure, how something works, how to perform an operation, or how to solve a problem.

2. Write a clear and succinct definition of an open-ended problem including a summary of known attempts to solve the problem.

3. Write a proposal to perform a project, undertake research, develop a program, solicit funding or some combination of the above.

4. Write an abstract or summary of a technical document.

5. Write a letter or memorandum taking a clear position defending or selling an idea to an audience.

6. Document a project in a professionally written design report.

7. Explain technical information to a nontechnical audience.

Comment: No doubt about it. Writing programs need to be developed for every profession. Part of those programs should consist of models. Raises questions in my mind about the usefulness of the five-paragraph essay model that is taught in almost every high school and college general writing program. My guess is that the model, “Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them” probably applies, but until I see models of each type of writing I can’t be sure. Perhaps, after teaching the five-paragraph essay model and its counterpart, the essay test, students should have the opportunity of trying a variety of different types of professional writing. And where does that leave the research paper? Is the research paper necessary? Can it be taught more efficiently? RayS.

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