J. O. Coleman
Margaret H. Hundleby <email@example.com>,
Skills: The Puzzle of Personal Style in Engineering Writing and
Awareness of certain aspects of the natures of two major groups of
engineers may improve the way faculty work with students on written
and oral presentations. The two groups correspond to the different
ways that "reasoning" and "intuition" are allocated to the "inner" and
"outer" task domains. Reasoning is careful, step-by-step, thorough,
and slow, while intuition works quickly--one just "knows" or
confidantly assumes "it can be done." Outer tasks include the
"practical" specifics of an application and the outline of a paper.
Inner tasks deal with applicable concepts or unifying systems and the
sentence-level structure of a paper. There is a large group of
engineers who apply reason to outer tasks and intuition to inner ones,
leading to quick, instinctive selection of relevant concepts followed
by lengthy focus on application details. As authors, they spend time
on structure, filling in with sentences in a quick, intuitive way.
Revision focuses on the outline. But there is another substantial
group of engineers who apply reason to inner tasks and intuition to
outer ones, investing time in rigorous development of unifying
concepts or systems followed by a quick and instinctive application.
As authors, they intuit macro structure while focusing care on
sentences, often revising details fanatically. The differences
between the groups naturally suggest different approaches in working
with them on their writing and oral presentations.
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- Presented at the ASEE North Midwest Section Meeting, Fargo
ND, October 1996.