Authors & Contributors

Why consider collaborative writing assignments?

Collaborative writing assignments across the curriculum can meet many of the theoretical and practical goals of WAC:

Not all writing assignments can be converted from individual writing tasks to group writing tasks, nor should they all. But at least some of the writing students do works best in collaborative groups.

Teacher Commentary

Patrick Fitzhorn, Mechanical Engineering: For example, in any complex design, one person doesn't do the entire design. For example, in the design of a car there could be one thousand engineers who are working on various subsystems of the car, and where those subsystems interact everyone at that interaction point has to understand exactly what's occurring there. So there's a lot of information exchange communication across these interfaces between subsets of very complex designs. The more complex the design, the more important that communication and the more interfaces that will occur across these communication boundaries.

Tom Siller, Civil Engineering: You're more factual in industry, more team writing gets done here. Because of this there's a corporate image to convey and not as much individual ownership over the work. For example, I was involved with a report that dealt with a government contractor on a sensitive job. We wrote a report where the contractor just didn't like what we wrote. We thought we presented factual information and they trashed it because it didn't say what they wanted to hear. There tends to be more of that in industry in that when people get a technical report from you, they expect it to say what they want to hear. As opposed to their not reading it for discovery--they're reading it for confirmation for what they're looking for. After we were trashed, the president of the company went down to defend us. We weren't there. None of us was there. It had a corporate ownership to it. It's a different approach to your writing in these situations.