Student teamwork and leadership in an engineering technical writing course

Alyson Grace Eggleston, Robert J. Rabb

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Technical proficiency is a desirable skill for engineers, but often is just one proficiency on a list of many required skills from employers. There is a growing need for engineers to have other professional skills: organization, communication, ability to function on a team, and leadership is critical for mastering these skills. Additionally, through course design, service learning, and mission, The Citadel emphasizes its leader development for ROTC and non-ROTC students. There is a formal, four-functional area leadership model that assesses leader development in multiple ways. Integrated in the leadership model are Leader Characteristics that describe a leader's actions. At the institution, professors assist in leader development by helping students mature their intellectual capacity to be leaders. As a focus of The Citadel's mission, leader development opportunities are reinforced at all levels of course design through critical thinking, communications, philosophical, theoretical, and analytical skills. In the leadership model, sophomores engage by learning the skills associated with direct leadership of individuals and small teams, and the management of specific administrative and logistical duties under close supervision-but with no intermediate leader between themselves and their subordinates. The School of Engineering at The Citadel took the initiative to collaborate with humanities faculty in the creation of a sophomore-level, multidisciplinary communications class that would lay the foundation for cross-disciplinary communications courses, while emphasizing team-driven Project-based Learning (PBL) and leadership development. Collaboration between an English Department and three Engineering Departments in 2015 resulted in a sophomore-level Technical Writing and Communications course (TWC) to prepare future graduates with better communication skills. Anchored in (PBL), the course was designed and implemented with assignments allowing for the assessment of early leader development, as emphasized by the institution. The course required small teams to work on one hands-on, technical assignment, and several other group projects. This paper discusses the implementation of a TWC (required of all engineering majors), which was subsequently expanded to assess teamwork and leader development for both the institution and specific programs. The paper also presents its institution-specific implementation, and current student success markers. Finally, this paper makes recommendations for embedding leader development opportunities within instructional design and peer assessment for the collective benefit of other students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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