Using practice architectures to investigate the invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE, 2017, 2017-October pp. 1 - 6
Issue Date:
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© 2017 IEEE. Written communication is neither systematically developed nor practised in the engineering curriculum, despite expectations by universities and employers that engineering graduates will be proficient communicators, and despite interventions to develop students' writing. The gap in the development of students' written communication calls for an investigation into the continuing invisibility of writing practices in the engineering curriculum. The lens of practice architectures theory was used to explore how engineering academics view writing in their engineering subjects, and how they develop the writing practices of their students. Practice architectures theory sees practices as shaped by and shaping cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements. A qualitative study examined engineering academics' teaching practices and the extent to which writing is practised and developed within the subjects they teach. Results show the majority of engineering academics in this study view writing as separate from technical engineering knowledge. This impacts the prevailing teaching and assessment practices by not providing opportunities for writing to be practised and developed within the context of engineering education. Unless there is conscious inclusion of writing practices, prevailing teaching and assessment practices will continue to focus on the acquisition of propositional knowledge to the exclusion of the development of writing practices.
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