Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Wolfe, Joanna Lynn

Author's Keywords

Non-native English speakers; Engineering writing; Writing in the disciplines; Pedagogy; Composition


Technical writing; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers; Academic writing--Study and teaching


This dissertation examines how nonnative English speaking (NNES) faculty and students in engineering respond to language variation and how that response influences their teaching and learning of academic writing. Using grounded theory approach to analyzing data gathered from multiple rounds of interview, writing samples, informal discussions, and class observation among ten participants, the study draws on and responds to two related bodies of scholarship in composition studies and writing in the disciplines (WID). Contrary to claims in much of current scholarship on engineering writing, the findings of this study show that in spite of subscribing to views about language and writing that writing scholars consider problematic (as illustrated in chapter two), engineering faculty use a range of effective practices for teaching writing. Some of these practices include letting students use writing for different contexts and purposes, providing feedback, and integrating writing as a means of academic and professional development. Thus, the study argues that WID research and programs should recognize and build on best practices on the ground before confronting the problematic views. The findings also clearly show that because NNES engineering faculty and students subscribe to their discipline's discourse about the transparency of language, transience of learning to write, and universality of standard academic English (as demonstrated in chapter three), they typically reject any language variation, through which current scholarship expects that they, as multilingual individuals, resourcefully negotiate meaning. Consequently, in chapter four, the study proposes that in order to promote more complex understanding and practice of language and writing in engineering, writing programs should first understand the dynamics of how multilingual scholars exercise power and agency in their disciplines and professions through prevailing monolingual policies and practices. The study concludes by using the theoretical framework of chapter four in order to recommend a number of practical strategies toward building effective WID programs (in chapter five). WID literature that has started responding to the monolingual dynamics of the discipline is briefly reviewed, and suggestions are made for further study on how to confront the monolingual myths that affect academic and professional communication in engineering.