Abstract: Context: Competence in written communication is regarded as a critical requirement for engineering graduates and engineering educators alike, but the development of writing within the engineering curriculum is frequently invisible, and occasionally non-existent. This is despite repeated calls from EA and employer groups for Australian engineering faculties to improve the communication skills of their engineering graduates. It is also despite several decades of excellent initiatives and interventions to support and develop engineering students' written and spoken communication, many of which have fallen into disuse once their champion has moved on.
Purpose: This study seeks to investigate and provide answers to the following research questions: why are writing practices unsustained in the current Australian engineering curriculum? What would make them thrive?
Approach: The study involves engineering academics from several Australian engineering faculties as participants, and investigates their views of how writing is developed in the subjects that they teach. This paper presents the analysis of one participant's site of practice. The approach uses the theoretical perspective of practice theory. Interviews, documents and participant observations are analysed using practice architectures theory to reveal what constrains the development of writing practices as part of the engineering curriculum.
Results: Key results show that the development of writing within engineering subjects is currently not seen as a key part of doing engineering, and that modelling or practising writing is not seen as part of the subject coordinator's role. It also reveals that engineering academics can have a lack of agency about developing the writing practices of their students.
Conclusions: If writing is to be developed intrinsically in the engineering curriculum, there will need to be practice architectures which enable rather than constrain practices of writing. These changes may include reframing writing practices as part of what engineers do.
To cite this article: Goldsmith, Rosalie and Willey, Keith. How can the development of writing practices in the engineering curriculum be enabled? [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 283-291.
[cited 27 Apr 17].