Overcoming the Writing Challenges of Students in a Distance Delivery Technology Master of Science Program

Shaurette, Mark; Rapp, Randy R.
January 2014
Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition;2014, p1
Conference Proceeding
Purdue University offers a Master of Science in Construction Management (CM) through distance delivery that includes a course only plan of study culminating in a capstone writing project. Students enter the program after completing traditional engineering, architecture, and construction management undergraduate degrees from a diversity of universities around the globe. Entering students are required to have five or more years of experience working in the construction industry. As is common in many engineering or technology graduate programs, the writing proficiency of entering students is frequently inadequate to meet the demands of graduate level scholarly writing. Because much of the scholarly writing that is done by graduate students is supervised by faculty who may not have strong mentoring skills in technical writing, these students often struggle to communicate their graduate research in an effective manner. As a result, some supervisors experience more challenges guiding the writing process than the research. At degree completion, these MS in CM students frequently produce satisfactory research but still have poorly crafted writing for the publication submission required by the final capstone project. Because of the writing challenges, some have failed to complete the degree altogether. This paper presents a brief summary of the literature describing university experiences and responses to the limited preparation of graduate students for scholarly writing. In addition, a description is provided of the Purdue Department of Building Construction Management's experience with graduate student writing and the introduction of required writing courses as part of the MS plan of study. Both student feedback and preliminary test results are presented as evidence of the successes and shortcomings that have accrued from introducing writing guidance in the plan of study.


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