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From Student to Entry-Level Professional: Examining the Role of Language and Written Communications in the Reacculturation of Aerospace Engineering Students

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When students graduate and enter the world of work, they must make the transition from an academic to a professional knowledge community. Kenneth Bruffee's model of the social construction of knowledge suggests that language and written communication play a critical role in the reacculturation process that enables successful movement from one knowledge community to another. We present the results of a national (mail) survey that examined the technical communications abilities, skills, and competencies of 1,673 aerospace engineering students, who represent an academic knowledge community. These results are examined within the context of the technical communications behaviors and practices reported by 2,355 aerospace engineering and scientists employed in government and industry, who represent a professional knowledge community that the students expect to join. Bruffee's claim of the importance of language and written communication in the successful transition from an academic to a professional knowledge community is supported by the responses from the two communities we surveyed. Implications are offered for facilitating the reacculturation process of students to entry-level engineering professionals.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: August 1, 1995

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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