Comprised of a study spanning over five years, this text looks at four engineering co-op students as they write at work. Since the contributors have a foot in both worlds -- work and school -- the book should appeal to people who are interested in how students learn to write as well as people who are interested in what writing at work is like. Primarily concerned with whether engineers see their writing as rhetorical or persuasive, the study attempts to describe the students' changing understanding of what it is they do when they write.
Two features of engineering practice that have particular impact on the extent to which engineers recognize persuasion are identified:
* a reverence for data, and
* the hierarchical structure of the organizations in which engineering is most commonly done.
Both of these features discourage an open recognition of persuasion. Finally, the study shows that the four co-op students learned most of what they knew about writing at work by engaging in situated practice in the workplace, rather than by attending formal classes.
"Any teacher, student, engineer, or seientist who is seriously interested in the use of rhetoric in science and technology has much to learn from reading this excellent sext. Writing Like an Engineer will undoubtedly enhance the rhetorical education of all its readers."
"…a model for solid research in our field, introducing students to not only thoughtful balance of theory, methodology, and practice but also reflexivity of self-awareness by the researcher of the stance, bias, or interpretive choices she brings to her observations. Winsor's Writing Like an Engineer lives up to her reputation. The book is excellent. Winsor sets a high standard for future, long-term studies of engineering discourse communities."
—IEEE Transactions of Professional Communication
"Winsor's study is valuable for educators who prepare scientists, engineers, and technical communicators for active and responsible professional roles. However, it is equally valuable for technical communication practitioners who work with scientists and engineers, and who mentor interns or new technical communicators."
"Dorothy Winsor's book will be of immediate use to anyone teaching technical writing and anyone who studies the rhetoric of science and technology. Winsor shows how the personalities of the students and their interactions with managers and co-workers shape their views of what it means to write like an engineer. The hallmarks of Dorothy's research are clarity of purpose and thoughtful marshalling of evidence."
The Pennsylvania State University
Contents: C. Bazerman, Editor's Introduction. Preface. Do Engineers Use Rhetoric? Socialization Through Writers and Genres. Backtalk: Jason. Learning to Construct and Interact With an Audience. Backtalk: Al. The Textual Negotiation of Corporate "Reality". Backtalk: Chris. Writing Like an Engineer. Backtalk: Ted. Conclusion. Appendix: Request for "Backtalk."