Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

A Guided Approach to Technical Report Writing for Undergraduate Engineering Students

Department

School of Engineering

College

Padnos College of Engineering and Computing

Disciplines

Engineering

Abstract

Learning how to write technical reports can be difficult for undergraduate engineering students that have had very little, if any, experience with technical report writing in their high school classes. The laboratory course Engineering Measurement and Data Analysis is required for all undergraduate engineering students at Grand Valley State University, with a major focus of this course being technical report writing. In order to guide the students in preparing technical reports, templates were designed to act as an example of how to present their laboratory results in a technical report format. The templates slowly transitioned the students into writing the reports on their own, without the use of a template. This was done by providing a full template for the first laboratory activity, where the students simply had to fill in the fields of the template with information from their own laboratory activity. For the second laboratory activity, the students were provided a partial template where they had to focus only on writing certain sections of the report and the other sections were provided as a template with fields to complete. The final template was another partial template that required the students to focus on writing the sections of the report that were not the focus of the earlier partial template, and the rest of the report was provided as a template with fields to complete. By the fourth laboratory activity, the students prepared full technical reports without the use of any template. This guided approach using writing templates was incorporated into the Engineering Measurement and Data Analysis class in addition to technical report writing guidelines and examples that have been used previously. Feedback from the students indicated that the templates helped them understand how to apply the guidelines for technical report writing. One area of concern was that the students could become confused with the clarity of what is to be inserted into the fields of the templates. Updates to the templates themselves will be completed for use in future classes. This paper presents an overview of the guided approach as well as the outcomes and feedback from the students that participated in the class. The plans for further modifications and improvements to this approach will also be presented.

Conference Name

American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition

Conference Location

Seattle, Washington

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