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Writing Transfer in Engineering

Improving Writing Instruction for Engineering Lab Reports


This NSF funded research (DUE #1505066) project between Engineering and English departments, including both faculty and undergraduates, is designed to promote English proficiency among engineering students at Washington State University (WSU), Clark College, and beyond. The goal of this project is to investigate how a pedagogical approach focusing on writing transfer enhances engineering students’ writing performances of lab reports in introductory engineering lab courses.

Are you an engineering lab instructor who assigns lab reports?

Hands-on engineering labs are the favored experiences of engineering students during their undergraduate education. Writing the lab reports, however, is often expressed as one of their least favorite experiences. Interestingly enough, engineering undergraduates receive extensive writing instruction in first-year composition (FYC) early in their program of study, but what they write in those courses is often related to the study of the humanities. After completing FYC, students are assigned to write engineering lab reports, which are very distinct from what they wrote during FYC in terms of the report requirements and/or instructors’ expectations. This instructional module helps engineering lab instructors and/or teaching assistants to consider the engineering students’ prior FYC experiences when instructing lab report writing. This module has been designed to function as supplemental material to accompany routine instruction materials for various types of lab courses.


Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation through grant number DUE #1505066. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation.


The project has been approved by the Washington State University Human Subject Research Review Committee (IRB#14533) and the Clark College Human Subject Research Review Committee.