Mixing Writing with First-Year Engineering: An Unstable Solution?


  • Lisa Lebduska Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • David DiBiasio Worcester Polytechnic Institute


Introducing engineering students to the rewards and responsibilities of being an engineer has long been a goal of engineering education. ABET specifies that in addition to technical competence, students should have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, an ability to communicate effectively, and a knowledge of contemporary issues. At WPI, we attempted to achieve these goals by designing a first-year, one-credit course that would engage students actively in the chemical engineering profession while increasing their understanding of writing as a problem-solving tool and means of reflection rather than isolated activities for recording engineered solutions. Course success was measured using several evaluation tools, including focus groups conducted by an external evaluator, an external evaluation of the portfolios, and our own assessment of the students' portfolios.

Author Biographies

Lisa Lebduska, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Lisa Lebduska is the Director of College Writing at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, where she is designing a writing-across-the curriculum program and contributing to the development of Wheaton's new College Learning Center. With research interests in computer-mediated literacies and peer tutoring, she has contributed work to Writing Center Journal and the anthology Student-Assisted Teaching and Learning.

David DiBiasio, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

David DiBiasio is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from Purdue University. His educational work focuses on active and cooperative learning and educational assessment. His other research interests are in biochemical engineering, specifically biological reactor analysis.