9 February 2018: Seminar by Natasha Artemeva, Carleton University, Canada, "Assessing genre sensitivity: Undergraduate students’ writing in response to nested engineering contexts"

STEMTEC Seminar Series, 2018
Where:  WT515C
When: Friday 9 February 2018, 2-3pm


Within a diagnostic assessment of entering undergraduate engineering students, developed for the
purpose of identifying students’ needs for academic support (Fox, Haggerty & Artemeva, 2016), two
disciplinary writing tasks were administered.  One task, designed by drawing on input obtained from
the Faculty of Engineering, required students to interpret graphs which displayed theoretical and
actual data on an engineering innovation. This task was embedded in the first lecture of a required
introductory engineering course (Fox & Artemeva, in press). The other task asked students to write
an email in the context of a simulated work placement (such workplace integrated learning
experiences are a part of their engineering program).  1500 student responses (i.e., all responses of
the cohort of entering engineering students) were assessed using an analytic rubric, which included
disciplinary (engineering) criteria. The written responses that are the focus of the present study
were then selectively sampled from two groups: 10 from a group of students who had been
identified through the diagnostic procedure as being in need of academic support; and 10 from a
group who were not identified as such. Subsequently, student written responses to both tasks were
analyzed by using genre analysis, and the outcomes were compared with diagnostic results obtained
through the use of the analytic criteria on the diagnostic rubric. The findings suggest that genre
analysis further expands useful information on students’ genre sensitivity in engineering contexts of
communication, and their use (or misuse) of rhetorical strategies. Greater detail in what works or
does not work in student writing allows for more targeted feedback and pedagogical support, which
in turn may contribute to the students’ writing development.


Natasha Artemeva is Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton  
University, Canada. Her background includes an engineering degree and professional experience  
in engineering from Russia and Canada, which have informed her research on disciplinary and  
professional literacies in engineering and mathematics. She is a co-editor of Rhetorical Genre Studies
and beyond (2006, Inkshed Publications), Writing in knowledge societies (2011, Parlor Press), and
Genre Studies around the globe: Beyond the three traditions (2015, Inkshed Publications).