Talk to explore teaching writing to engineering students

The talk is a part of the Innovative Teaching at Penn State Brown Bag Lunch Series

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Innovative Teaching at Penn State (ITAP) Brown Bag Lunch Series: will host “An Interdisciplinary Collaboration that Improves Writing Support for Engineering Students” from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12, in the Mann Assembly Room in the Paterno Library.

The talk will also available at this Zoom link.

Presenting will be Ruth Pflueger, director, Learning Resource Center, Penn State Behrend; and Jonathan Meckley, chair, Plastics Engineering Technology, associate professor of engineering, Penn State Behrend.

ITAP talks and workshops highlight interesting teaching innovations at Penn State. The goals is to help further build a community of instructors who are interested in improving learning by their students. All are welcome. Lunch will be provided to pre-registered Mann Assembly room attendees courtesy of the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.  

Writing is an essential skill for practicing engineers, but teaching writing to engineering students is quite challenging. This intervention uses undergraduate peer tutors to address this challenge. The session describes the elements of a one-hour training session for undergraduate peer writing tutors in non-technical majors who tutor engineering students on their senior design projects. The training for peer tutors is co-taught by the Plastics Engineering Department chair and tutor supervisor.  

Related issues that we will discuss include: engineering students’ increased understanding of the importance of writing to their future careers; securing the support of engineering faculty for the program; how improved self-efficacy among the tutors results in higher quality feedback for the students. Benefits, among others, include improved readability of the projects, greater collaboration between students and tutors and capitalizing on existing resources. Finally, the talk will cover how this might be implemented in other disciplines.

The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at