Reflections on an Integrated Content and Language Project-Based Design of a Technical Communication Course for Electrical Engineering Students

  • Becky Bergman Chalmers University of Technology
  • Ann-Marie Eriksson Chalmers University of Technology
  • Jörgen Blennow Chalmers University of Technology
  • Thomas Hammarström Chalmers University of Technology
  • Jens Groot Chalmers University of Technology
Keywords: content and language integrated learning (CLIL), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), electrical engineering, project model

Abstract

Effective ways of teaching technical communication skills to engineering students have been much discussed. This article reflects on one setting, a first year course in Technical Communication at a university in Sweden, where electrical engineering teachers, language and communication teachers and student counsellors work in close, team-based cooperation using a project model which requires the students to analyse, implement and communicate technical problems. The paper discusses the change in this course - from an EAP course primarily prioritizing language training which ran parallel with a project course - to one unified ICL course. The progression is described through the changes in the organization of the course, and the article focuses on one learning activity: interdisciplinary tutorials on project reports. Through a pilot study where these sessions were video recorded and mapped, we conclude that the presence of different roles became an asset for the range of what the students see as relevant for their project report. In particular, the technical report genre was critically analysed, including problematic areas such as textual sequencing and display of technical problems; data visualisation and commentary; and referencing.

Author Biographies

Becky Bergman, Chalmers University of Technology
Lecturer at the Division for Language and Communciation, Department of Applied IT
Ann-Marie Eriksson, Chalmers University of Technology
Lecturer at the Division for Language and Communciation, Department of Applied IT
Jörgen Blennow, Chalmers University of Technology
Program director at Department of Material and Manufacturing Technology
Thomas Hammarström, Chalmers University of Technology
PhD student at Department of Material and Manufacturing Technology
Jens Groot, Chalmers University of Technology
PhD student at Department of Energy and Environment
Published
2013-10-12
Section
Articles