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Conference Proceeding

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Writing Assignment Tutor Training in STEM (WATTS) is part of a three-year NSF IUSE grant with participants at three institutions. This research project seeks to determine to what extent students in the WATTS project show greater writing improvement than students using writing tutors not trained in WATTS. The team collected baseline, control, and experimental data. Baseline data included reports written by engineering and engineering technology students with no intervention to determine if there were variations in written communication related to student demographics and institutions. Control data included reports written by students who visited tutors with no WATTS training, and experimental data included reports written by students who visited tutors who were WATTS-trained. Reports were evaluated by the research team using a slightly modified version of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Written Communication VALUE Rubric. Baseline data assessment also provided an opportunity to test the effectiveness of the rubric. This paper presents findings from the analysis of the control and experimental data to determine the impact of WATTS on student writing in lab reports. An aggregate score for each lab report was determined by averaging the reviewer scores. An analysis was run to determine if there was a statistical difference between pre-tutoring lab report scores from the baseline, control, and experimental rubric scores for each criterion and total scores; there was not a statistically significant difference. The research team ran a Wilcoxon signed-rank test to assess the relationship between control and experimental aggregate rubric scores for each criterion. The preliminary analysis of the control and experimental data shows that the WATTS intervention has a positive, statistically significant impact on written communication skills regardless of the campus student demographics. Since WATTS has been shown to be a low-cost, effective intervention to improve engineering and engineering technology students’ written communication skills at these participating campuses, it has potential use for other institutions to positively impact their students’ written communication.


© 2023 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference.

Publication Title

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition