Quantification of Engineering Disciplinary Discourse in Résumés: A Novel Genre Analysis with Teaching Implications

Gracemarie Mike Fillenwarth, Mary McCall, Catherine Berdanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Undergraduate engineering students often receive insufficient support when crafting résumés. Most notably, there is often a lack of disciplinary-specific instruction and a lack of emphasis on the persuasive function of résumés. Ultimately seeking to strengthen instructional materials, this study investigates a way to quantify the quality of engineering résumés, focusing specifically on the use of disciplinary discourse. Research questions: How do engineering résumés exhibit disciplinary discourse? How can disciplinary discourse be quantified as a way of promoting strong engineering résumé writing and professional development skills? Literature review: This project builds on research exploring the qualities of effective résumés. It extends on work establishing disciplinary differences in desired résumé qualities, as well as work characterizing résumé writing as an opportunity for professional identity development. Grounded in activity theory, this project seeks to elucidate the 'rules' of effective engineering résumés at the lexical level. Methodology: This project analyzed a corpus of 31 engineering résumés through both qualitative and quantitative means. Résumés were initially ranked via a rubric, then coded for disciplinary discourse according to the American Association of Engineering Societies' Engineering Competency Model. Disciplinary discourse scores were then analyzed through descriptive statistics. Results and conclusion: Significant differences in the use of disciplinary discourse were found among strong, moderate, and weak résumés. Though these results are not generalizable due to the small corpus size, they indicate that disciplinary discourse may be a fruitful area for future research on résumés and the development of pedagogical materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-64
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial relations
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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