This complete evidence-based practice paper describes the techniques used in the project based first-year Cornerstone of Engineering courses at XXXX to address the need for building communication skills for our first-year engineering students. Although this skill can be taught and assessed, the results of past surveys show that engineering students are inadequately equipped to meet this need.
This need is addressed by teaching and assessing the three pillars of engineering communication: written, oral and graphical through a series of lectures, activities and group assignments. For instance, a series of biweekly group assignments, designed to assess and improve the three pillars of engineering communication are woven into the project-based curriculum, culminating with a final project exhibition and written reflection. These assignments, not only assess the presentation, graphical communication and writing skills of the teams but also their individual leadership skills. In addition, recommended materials for preparation, implementation guidelines, and best practices for engineering communications are discussed.
Based on quantitative survey data, students overwhelmingly reported that feel they have improved their proficiency in the three pillars of communication through the course. Qualitative data showed that students think that mastery of the different pillars will make them better team players and give them the flexibility to effectively communicate with a variety of audiences. The majority of students reported oral communication as their skill that requiring the most work and many reported fear associated with public speaking. Students recognized that all their communication skills were a work in progress mirroring the initial course message that engineers need to be lifelong learners.
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