Developing Communication Skills in Engineering Students
This paper presents the methodology used and results obtained in a pilot experience designed to develop and strengthen communication abilities of chemical engineering students at the Universidad de Concepción, Chile. A typical sample of 30 students was selected to attend a series of workshops taught by social science professors and aimed at developing oral and written communication skills. The students participated actively in the workshops by making oral presentations on general issues and on their specialty. The participants were evaluated by professors as well as by students (self-evaluation and co-evaluation).
Previously designed guidelines and video analysis outlines were used for evaluation. The evaluation results were shared with the students during feedback sessions, and based on those results, strengthening activities were programmed for the different groups. At the end of the workshops, most students had improved their communication skills, but the intervention had the greatest effect on those students who had originally presented the greatest difficulty for oral expression, a characteristic that could be inversely correlated with the socio-economic status of the student. To achieve greater impact of the described activity, a larger number of academics needs to participate in the program and the activities should be incorporated as a regular practice in the engineering curriculum.