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Unpacking challenges of data commentary writing in master’s thesis projects: an insider perspective from chemical engineering

Eriksson, Andreas and Nordrum, Lene LU (2018) In Research in Science & Technological Education 36(4). p.499-520
Abstract
Background: Data commentary, in-text comments on the visual presentation of data, is acknowledged as a central aspect of academic writing in many engineering disciplines. At the same time, it is a feature that it has been shown to be challenging for students. One of the genres in which data commentary plays a significant role in many engineering disciplines is the master’s thesis. Comparatively little research has been done on the process of master thesis supervision, and combining the study of data commentary and master’s thesis supervision is therefore particularly interesting.

Purpose: This study explores the challenges of data commentary writing through interviews with master’s students and thesis supervisors of chemical... (More)
Background: Data commentary, in-text comments on the visual presentation of data, is acknowledged as a central aspect of academic writing in many engineering disciplines. At the same time, it is a feature that it has been shown to be challenging for students. One of the genres in which data commentary plays a significant role in many engineering disciplines is the master’s thesis. Comparatively little research has been done on the process of master thesis supervision, and combining the study of data commentary and master’s thesis supervision is therefore particularly interesting.

Purpose: This study explores the challenges of data commentary writing through interviews with master’s students and thesis supervisors of chemical engineering.

Sample and method: Master’s students at a Swedish university were invited to participate in a workshop about the writing of data commentary. Nine master’s students and five supervisors were interviewed about what is important and difficult about writing data commentaries in their discipline as well as about decisions made in data commentaries written by the students. The interviews were divided into a semi-structured and a discourse-based part.

Results: Our results indicate that data commentary comes with a variety of challenges. Among the most important and difficult aspects are selection of content and clarity. The study also indicates a close connection between data commentary and disciplinary learning in chemical engineering, suggesting that highlighting data commentary in the teaching of master’s thesis writing will be time well spent.

Conclusions: In order to make the teaching and learning of data commentary effective in the context investigated, we propose that important measures are: the development of a shared metalanguage among students and supervisors, a genre approach, and collaboration between engineering and communication faculty.
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author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Data commentary, Disciplinary writing, Faculty collaboration, Genre awareness, Master's thesis supervision
in
Research in Science & Technological Education
volume
36
issue
4
pages
22 pages
publisher
Routledge
external identifiers
  • scopus:85045741191
ISSN
1470-1138
DOI
10.1080/02635143.2018.1460339
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
285d357f-9648-472d-9fdc-3be636e3d185
date added to LUP
2018-03-09 15:48:41
date last changed
2021-09-22 02:04:14
@article{285d357f-9648-472d-9fdc-3be636e3d185,
  abstract     = {Background: Data commentary, in-text comments on the visual presentation of data, is acknowledged as a central aspect of academic writing in many engineering disciplines. At the same time, it is a feature that it has been shown to be challenging for students. One of the genres in which data commentary plays a significant role in many engineering disciplines is the master’s thesis. Comparatively little research has been done on the process of master thesis supervision, and combining the study of data commentary and master’s thesis supervision is therefore particularly interesting.<br/><br/>Purpose: This study explores the challenges of data commentary writing through interviews with master’s students and thesis supervisors of chemical engineering.<br/><br/>Sample and method: Master’s students at a Swedish university were invited to participate in a workshop about the writing of data commentary. Nine master’s students and five supervisors were interviewed about what is important and difficult about writing data commentaries in their discipline as well as about decisions made in data commentaries written by the students. The interviews were divided into a semi-structured and a discourse-based part. <br/><br/>Results: Our results indicate that data commentary comes with a variety of challenges. Among the most important and difficult aspects are selection of content and clarity. The study also indicates a close connection between data commentary and disciplinary learning in chemical engineering, suggesting that highlighting data commentary in the teaching of master’s thesis writing will be time well spent.<br/><br/>Conclusions: In order to make the teaching and learning of data commentary effective in the context investigated, we propose that important measures are: the development of a shared metalanguage among students and supervisors, a genre approach, and collaboration between engineering and communication faculty. <br/>},
  author       = {Eriksson, Andreas and Nordrum, Lene},
  issn         = {1470-1138},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {499--520},
  publisher    = {Routledge},
  series       = {Research in Science & Technological Education},
  title        = {Unpacking challenges of data commentary writing in master’s thesis projects: an insider perspective from chemical engineering},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02635143.2018.1460339},
  doi          = {10.1080/02635143.2018.1460339},
  volume       = {36},
  year         = {2018},
}