Enhancing Writing Quality in Engineering Capstone Project Documents


  • Ben D. Radhakrishnan National University San Diego, California, USA
  • Bhaskar Raj Sinha National University San Diego, California, USA
  • Shareen Grogan National University San Diego, California, USA


ABET, effect size, accelerated courses, flipped classes, PBL, teaching and learning paradigms, writing quality, written attributes.


Quality of technical writing in capstone reports is an important attribute to express and communicate the ideas, methodology and results of the technical content of a project. Technical writing expertise for engineering students in general, and for international (non-English) in particular, need improvements in this area. Capstone instructors end up spending significant amount of time in helping student teams in correcting the project documentation for style, grammar, organization and format. This research introduces the concept of bringing in a Technical Writing Assistant (TWA) in to the class room for capstone projects to work with student teams. TWAs conducted sessions with student teams (Onsite and Online) to help with the writing quality of capstone documentations. TWA staff were in addition to the course instructor. This research team used university’s writing center expertise to staff TWAs, and they helped in developing a set of metrics/rubrics to evaluate the capstone documents for their technical writing quality. In order to assess the impact of TWAs, this paper analyses and compares capstone project reports done with and without TWAs using the metrics/rubrics. The findings of this evaluation and analysis can lay the foundation for changes, recommendations, and deployment of TWAs in engineering curriculums. 

Author Biographies

Ben D. Radhakrishnan, National University San Diego, California, USA

School of Engineering and Computing

National University
San Diego, California, USA

Bhaskar Raj Sinha, National University San Diego, California, USA


Department of Computer Science, Information and Media Systems

School of Engineering and Computing

National University

Shareen Grogan, National University San Diego, California, USA

National University
San Diego, California, USA


Gassman, S.L., Maher, M.A. and Timmerman, B.E. (2013). Supporting Students’ Disciplinary Writing in Engineering Education. International Journal of Engineering Education. 29(5), pp. 1270-1280.

The National Commission on Writing. The Neglected “Râ€. The need for a Writing Revolution. http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/writingcom/neglectedr.pdf . Accessed May 01, 2016.

Accreditation criteria and Supporting docs. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/. Accessed August 30, 2016.

LEA, M. (1998).Student Writing in Higher Education†An Academic Literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education, Jun 98, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p157, 16p

LEA, M. (1994). 'I thought I could write till I came here': student writing in higher education, in: G. GIBBS (Ed.) Improving Student Learning: theory and practice, pp. 216- 226 (Oxford, Oxford Centre for Staff Development).

Sperber, M. (2011).We must Overhaul College Writing. Here’s a not so modest proposal that will turn American students from poor writers in to good ones. http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=2539 Accessed May 01, 2016.

The Challenges of Academic Writing. http://www.uefap.com/articles/furneaux.pdf . Accessed May 01, 2016.

Leveling UP: How to Win in the Skills Economy. Pay Scale Human Capital 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report). http://www.payscale.com/data-packages/job-skills.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ‘How Engineers Can Improve Technical Writing’. https://www.asme.org/career-education/articles/business-writing/how-engineers-can-improve-technical-writing . Accessed May 01, 2016.

Walker, K. (2000, July). Integrating Writing Instruction into Engineering Courses: A Writing Center Model. Journal of Engineering Education, 89(3), 369-375.

Mathes, J. C.; Stevenson, Dwight W.; 1976. Designing Technical Reports for Audiences and Organizations.

Queesland Government Statistician’s office, ‘Presenting Survey Results – Report Writing. Accessed October 9, 2016. http://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/about-statistics/presentation/presenting-survey-results.pdf

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences (2nd Ed.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cohen, J (1992). Quantitative Methods in Psychology. Psychological Bulletin, July 1992; 112, 1; PsycArticles. Pg155

Coe, R. (2002). It’s the Effect Size, Stupid. What effect size is and why it is important. British Educational Research Association Conference, 2002. http://www.cem.org/attachments/ebe/ESguide.pdf Accessed May 7, 2016




How to Cite

Radhakrishnan, B. D., Sinha, B. R., & Grogan, S. (2016). Enhancing Writing Quality in Engineering Capstone Project Documents. Asian Journal of Education and E-Learning, 4(5). Retrieved from https://ajouronline.com/index.php/AJEEL/article/view/4168