This paper is a continuation of earlier work (Jarvie-Eggart, Fiss, & Kitalong, 2018) examining the data behind first year engineering students’ performance in introductory engineering and composition courses, as well as their incoming ACT scores, to determine if there is a link between communication abilities and success in engineering curricula.
Engineering students don’t always recognize the importance of communication as a skill. It has been shown that communication is often devalued by engineering students, often failing “to appreciate that written words, not just calculations, express engineering content” (Conrad, 2017).
It is widely accepted that math skills are a predictor of success in engineering programs. Although math is essential for good engineering, career progression can be limited by poor communication skills. Communication is in the top three most important competencies ranked by engineering graduates - planning & time management is first, problem solving is second (Passw & Passaw, 2017). Oral and written communication take up 55-60% of an engineer's working day.
Communication is recognized by ABET as an essential competency for engineers, and is included in the new ABET program Criteria 3. Student Outcomes 3, “ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences” (ABET, 2017). Many programs focus on assessing communication within the context of a final report or senior design project, at the end of a student’s experience, as they are testing program outcomes. But little is done to assess in-coming student verbal or written communication abilities as it relates to their success as engineers. This work examines incoming student ACT English language arts scores to determine if it can be used as a predictor for overall performance in introductory engineering and composition courses.
ABET, 2017. “EAC Mapping C3 A-K to C3 1-7” Accessed online at: http://www.abet.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/C3_C5_mapping_SEC_8-15-2017.pdf
On Feb 15, 2017.
Conrad, S. 2017. “A Comparison of Practitioner and Student Writing in Civil Engineering.” Journal of Engineering Education. Vol. 106, N0. 2., pp. 191-217.
Jarvie-Eggart, M., Fiss, L. K., Kitalong, K. S., 2018. “Work-in-Progress -- Comparing First Year Engineering Students’ Math and Verbal ACT scores and Performance in Introductory Engineering and Composition Courses” ASEE First Year Engineering Experience (FYEE) Conference, Rowan University, Glasboro, NJ, July 24- 26, Session W501A: WIP: Student Success & Development - Focus on Retention.
Passaw, H.J., & C.H. Passaw. 2017. “What Competencies Should Undergraduate Engineering Programs Emphasize?A Systematic Review.” Journal of Engineering Education. Vol. 106., No. 3, pp.475-526
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