Our research funded by the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education seeks to improve the quality of technical writing instruction for undergraduate STEM students. Specifically, our project proposes a data-driven learning approach for teaching STEM students writing patterns specific to their respective disciplines. Data-driven learning (DDL) contrasts with traditional deductive, lecture-based methods and promotes students' active engagement through computer-assisted tools and a databank of authentic writing. Instruction is typically designed to (1) foster students' active engagement, (2) encourage inductive activities that allow students to explore a topic on their own terms, (3) promote interaction between students, and (4) provide students with output-focused activities to apply this new knowledge (Chujo, Anthony, Oghigian & Yokota, 2013).
In our poster, we will provide an introduction to the basic tenets of DDL and present our current work on developing and testing a set of instructional writing units for writing-focused courses in technical communication that typically enroll more than 60% of STEM majors, as well as STEM-focused content courses in ecology and computer science and engineering. Testing is currently ongoing and will continue through 2020, so we will have a substantial amount of data to report on by the conference date. Our quasi-experimental study aims to shed light on how data-driven instruction and corpus-linguistic analyses of writing by STEM professionals (1) improve disciplinary writing skills and (2) affect student engagement and learning. We will assess these two outcomes through qualitative and quantitative analysis of all written student assignments prior to, during, and after completion of the DDL units to evaluate uptake and writing development; user statistics gathered through the online learning management system in use, Canvas, to gauge level of engagement with materials; and a post-completion students survey to solicit students’ perception of the usefulness of DDL.
We hope to solicit discussion and feedback from the ASEE attendees on how to continue our efforts on several fronts, including what content areas to focus on as we develop additional instructional units, and what kinds of training resources instructors would like to have access to as they consider implementing DDL in their own STEM-focused or disciplinary writing courses.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.