WRITING SKILLS IN ICT ENGINEERING EDUCATION. ALIGNING A LITERATURE REVIEW WITH A VIRTUAL TEACHING INNOVATION CASE
The importance of writing skills for ICT professionals has been widely recognized. This is more recently enforced by the Bologna studies and guidelines dealing with the inclusion of generic soft skills in engineering curricula, as well as by the recommendations of the referent international curricula. Thus, many ICT engineering schools in the European Higher Education Area are defining models and systems to incorporate the learning of these skills in their ICT curricula. In contrast, published experience in teaching and learning communication skills at university level is still scarce, especially in engineering degrees, and, as far as we know, there is no literature review that may help schools in their decisions concerning this issue.
In fact, for any rational endeavour that aims at designing a successful and satisfactory writing skills learning model, it would be very appropriate to have a comprehensive overview of current and past published experiences and proposals and of gained knowledge in this area. This, besides helping to take profit of successful ideas and to avoid previous errors and pitfalls, would also be useful to identify the main requirements for the particular school’s model, as well as to discover knowledge gaps that future research and experimentation should address.
When confronting at our university a curricular design project, and based upon UOC’s prior experience in teaching a course named "Communicative competence for ICT professionals", we decided to undertake an up-to-date state-of-the-art study on this subject. We did it both as a way to explain and justify the design project for the mentioned course, and as an instrument to better design a more ambitious teaching-learning model to include writing skills in our UOC engineering curricula.
This paper presents how we have organized the research literature review on writing competences in ICT engineering curricula, and how we have aligned it with the phases of our own teaching innovation efforts. For our literature review, we have followed a systematic review process and have analyzed the found contributions with a qualitative research software tool. The search was done among the most important conferences and journals related to engineering education, as well as the recommendations of all the international curricula relevant to our ICT engineering degrees.
In our paper we will present such process and proposal, which succinctly results in the following steps: planning, conducting and reporting the review. With regard to the first step -planning the review- we will explain the research questions that this review answers, including the gaps to be addressed by future research. Also we will explain the followed search strategy as well as the document selection criteria. We will comment on the second step -conducting the review-, on how we realized the search iteratively and selected the primary relevant documents, and how we have worked out the documents with the Atlas.ti qualitative data analysis tool.
This paper is a first presentation within the third step of the systematic review, centred in the summarization of the resulting analysis. We will also present how we have organized and aligned such analysis with the Design-Science research process that we use both for explaining the original design and accumulated experience behind our writing skills course, and for proposing the more ambitious transversal teaching-learning model for the same competences.