how a discourse community or group uses text to communicate.(I choose engineering students)
How Engineering Students Use Texts to Communicate
Normally students go to higher learning institutions to acquire knowledge through learning. This knowledge can be disseminated through various communication tools such as emails, textbooks, magazines, face-to-face teaching, texting and web browsing (Hassini, 2006). This paper will specifically focus on how engineering students use various forms of texts to communicate and acquire knowledge in their respective field.
Engineering is a course that requires the regular writing of research papers, reports and project proposal. There are also presentations and assignments to submit. As a result of technological advancements, most of these tasks are usually done electronically either for convenience or following a directive from the lecturer or tutor. These texts have made engineering training, which was initially presumed to be complex, become student friendly as there is ease in passing and receiving of information. Various texts are applied by students in the engineering field.
To start with, we consider the role of emailing in the engineering course. Students can receive coursework notes, assignments and other relevant information from their lecturers or tutors through the email (Hassini, 2006). Since engineering syllabus is very broad, emails can be used as a supplement to teaching hence making it possible to finish the syllabus in time since students can access all the relevant materials. Also, emails increase students to instructors contact (Hassini, 2006). When students are having their assignments and come across a challenging concept, they can quickly email their lecturer for clarification, and this makes them more efficient in their learning.
Currently, emails have proved to be beneficial to students in the engineering field. For instance, if a lecturer receives many questions from a certain unit, it becomes apparent that students are facing a challenge in that section and the lecturer may opt to put more emphasis when teaching that section (Hassini, 2006). However, some students use emails in a negative way. When they fail in an exam, they end up creating a separate account and use abusive language to the respective instructor or tutor without considering reasons for their failure (Hassini 2006).
Secondly, engineering students use online discussion forums as a way of communication either with their lecturers or with other students (Aileen, 2008). Lecturers usually spend a little time with students in class during a lesson. Some of the engineering concepts taught in class may be too complicated to understand within such a short period. Therefore, the students use such forums to share their thoughts and make short presentations (Aileen, 2008). They read what others have posted and now they can have the freedom to give feedback. These forums are friendly to shy students who fear to air their views in class since they now have a platform where they can ask and respond to questions without intimidation or fear.
This form of texts helps students to improve their writing skills and also aids them to embrace group work. Later in life, they can apply this even in their workplaces when they face a challenging task as a result of group-working (Aileen, 2008). However, this method has its drawbacks since some lazy students in a given group fail to either respond or do their part of the presentation hence burdening a few students who are concerned (Aileen, 2008).
Thirdly, engineering students use multimedia for research and also to seek for more information that can help them understand complex engineering concepts (Mayer, 2002). Having a clear understanding of engineering principles and concepts is very crucial due to their applications. Most of these concepts are difficult to comprehend through oral explanations; students understand them better when illustrated through videos (Mayer, 2002). For instance, a student will learn how to control signals and understand their waveform patterns better with the aid of a CDL video rather than one drawn on a piece of paper (Mayer, 2002).
Also, it is common for students to record their presentations, upload them in a specified website and then share it with either instructors or their fellow students (Mayer, 2002). This is more applicable, especially when making project presentations. The instructors may not have enough time to view all the presentations directly, so they may request the students to record them so that they can examine them later, even in the absence of the presenters. Moreover, students participate in online video conferencing where they can comfortably hold discussions with their fellow engineering students from other institutions (Mayer, 2002). These conferences provide a suitable environment where students can share ideas and complex concepts resulting from the field of engineering and also become exposed to the outside environment.
These multimedia forms of communication help engineering students to understand those concepts that are so crucial to their career yet they are considered complex. It also minimizes the boredom associated with regular class lecturing hence enabling them to embrace the field of engineering. However, some students end up relying almost entirely on these videos and fail to use other sources of information such as books for more understanding and clarification. This is because viewing is considered more pleasant than reading (Mayer, 2002).
Fourthly, engineering students are fond of using magazines and journals to publish their research findings and also market their engineering projects to the society and also to the entire world (Dowerah, 2012). In many engineering institutions, students usually form associations that are given a responsibility of publishing their proceedings on various projects after a specified period. Those who have come up with the most outstanding projects are given an advantage of featuring in the engineering magazines. Additionally, engineering involves extensive research with an aim of either improving the available systems or coming up with solutions to problems affecting the systems or problems facing the society. In case the students feel they have a discovery that is essential in a particular system of the community, they can publish journals and magazines to elaborate more on their discovery (Dowerah, 2012). It is through these publications that students can pass information to the society concerning their research findings and solutions.
These publications motivate the students to be more creative and become more serious with their studies so as to secure good employment in the future. This is because most employees use these magazines and journals to identify potential employees who can be relied on by the society to provide solutions to the possible emerging challenges (Dowerah, 2012). It also helps the community to appreciate the field of engineering hence they encourage their children to be part of it and help the society grow. However, some students feel as if they are not competent enough when their projects do not qualify to feature in the publications or magazines. This, as a result, reduces most of the students’ morale to work hard and they end up performing poorly in their filed.
Engineering students regularly use letters as a form of communication in different perspectives. This can be applicable when writing a cover letter to a potential employer or when seeking an administrative issue in school (Dowerah, 2012). Some of the administrative matters that can compel a student to write a letter are either when seeking for a re-marking of an examination paper, to ask for an apology or any form of clarification. A cover letter is mostly written by students who are about to graduate as they start seeking employment opportunities from different employers. These covers letters describe the student and also states the reason he or she needs the job (Dowerah, 2012).
Letters are an efficient way of communication since they are formal and portray some degree of respect and confidentiality. Students always find a challenge to present their complaints to their lecturers or tutors since they perceive them to be superior; hence letter writing provides an alternative. On the other hand, letters are a regular form of communication (Dowerah, 2012). However, letters have some disadvantages like in the case where the recipient who in this particular instance can be a lecturer needing some clarification from his or her students. Consequently, in this case the process can turn out to be lengthy and tiresome.
Finally, students are currently adopting short messages using cell phones as a means of communication. Unlike emails where the recipient must be connected to the internet to give feedback, the short message provides an instant feedback at a low price (Naughton, 2015). They usually use this method of communication primarily to seek simple clarifications either from their fellow students or their lecturers. Almost every student in a higher learning institution owns a cell phone making short messaging a very common trend among them (Naughton, 2014). Students use messaging to draft short points as they study, which they can later use for revision irrespective of their location since cell phones are carried everywhere unlike books.
Text messaging helps students to remain updated since they can receive information from anywhere as long as they own a cell phone (Naughton, 2014). This helps them to learn ideally in collaboration with other students since they can discuss anything at any time regardless of the distance. However, the privacy associated with text messaging may cause students to waste time, especially when they shift from useful discussions and chat about issues that do not add value to their studies. Moreover, discussing using short messaging is ineffective. Unlike emails, it is limited to a certain number of characters that can be sent hence making it hard to have lengthy discussions (Naughton, 2014).
In conclusion, it is evident that application of various forms of texts in communication helps to improve learning among the engineering students. They contribute enormously to making engineering concepts that are perceived to be complex, become quickly understandable. Such texts include; emails, letters, video conferences, magazines and short messages. The advantages associated with these texts of communication outweigh their drawbacks. This means that lectures should consider using these texts to boost class work and also to improve their relationship with their students.
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