Roundtable: Technical/ Professional Writing for Undergraduates, Apr. 7 - 11, 2010

full name / name of organization: 
Maria Plochocki, NorthEastern Modern Language Association
contact email: 

With the increasing complexity of and necessity for writing instruction, both across the curriculum and within the disciplines, the familiar complaint of poor student writing skills and preparation continues to ring ever truer. The more writing is necessary, important, useful/ relevant, the poorer students seem to become at it. Nowhere does this seem more applicable than at technical institutions, such as those offering primarily engineering, scientific, and related curricula and degrees; a close second are various "professional" programs, most notably business. Yet, again, it is in such disciplines that student writing skills seem not only the most lacking, but also the most resisted, both by students who often question the need for good writing skills and instruction and faculty teaching such courses who, while they may complain of such a lack of skill, also seem unable or unwilling to facilitate amelioration, esp. if it is to come at the expense of instructional time in "more important" subjects, like their own.

This roundtable solicits proposals on successful, productive approaches to teaching technical and/ or professional writing as a major requirement, an elective, a useful-but-not-required course, or any combination thereof. What works? What is to be avoided? How to prepare and meet such a challenge? What about support from colleagues and administrators (or lack thereof)? Standards/ assessment? Rationale before students and not necessarily supportive faculty?