Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date




Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings


1-13 (26.370)

Conference Name

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, Washington, June 14-17, 2015


In the Engineering workplace, one must be able to negotiate many genres of writing: he or she must deliver updates, understand technical requirements, weigh project priorities, develop and carry out problem-solving techniques, all while using different forms of technical communication. Engineering work relies on the ability to flexibly transition between a variety of technical writing genres, while also navigating the broad array of technologies required to effectively complete these projects. However, the genres and types of writing present in the workplace do not always reflect the genres and types of writing undergraduate Engineering students complete during coursework. From a Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS) perspective, this is a problem because genres are not preset templates but rather forms of social action and as such embody a community’s way of knowing, being, and acting; therefore, a disconnect between genres indicates a disconnect between academic and workplace communities of practice, leaving undergraduates underprepared to meet the expectations of workplace communities.

The purpose of the project discussed in this paper is to develop a heuristic of common workplace genres of regional workplaces and explore whether these genres are receiving coverage in the engineering courses at a southeastern, midsize research institution. This exploration emerged from a grant-supported, interdisciplinary faculty learning community consisting of faculty from the Department of English (with Technical and Professional Writing specialties) and different departments in engineering and technology. One of the primary tasks of this community, shaped largely from a Writing in the Disciplines (WID) approach characteristic of the institution’s curricular and assessment bodies, was to map the current state of technical writing genres in engineering courses and to better understand the present gaps, if identified. This task was accomplished through workshop-based discussions and cross-disciplinary collaborative research. Based on the application of RGS methodologies to the interdisciplinary faculty learning community workshop, it is suggested that a genre-based categorization of writing tasks and projects in undergraduate engineering curricula is critically formative in working toward the holistic integration of writing across courses for the sake of preparation and conceptual-based student understanding of writing practices.


© 2015 American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Seattle, Washington, June 14-17, 2015.

Original Publication Citation

Jovanovic, V. M., & McKittrick, M., & Pazos, P., & Richards, D., & Romberger, J. (2015), Comparatively mapping genres in academic and workplace engineering environments. Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23709


0000-0002-8626-903X (Jovanovic), 0000-0003-4348-7798 (Pazos), 0000-0003-2155-3416 (Richards)