Persuasion in Engineering Reports: Evaluative Resources and Targets in Practice

Document Type : Research Article

Author

Education Futures, The University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

10.22055/rals.2021.17006

Abstract

This study investigates the use of the attitude system in engineering writing, including how attitude resources are deployed and what they target. The study analyses 10 professional engineering texts. Research suggests that professional engineering writing is largely an object-centred form of written communication, that is, focused on physical objects (Ding, 2001; McKenna, 1997). Engineering writing also has a persuasive purpose and an ‘objective’ style (Winsor, 2006), which can be challenging for novice engineering writers as it requires a command of evaluative language including an understanding of how and to what evaluation can be applied. Appraisal system offers an approach to understanding the use of evaluative language. Findings show that the valuation subtype of appreciation, a subsystem of attitude, is used in significant preference to all others. Physical objects and activities are the most commonly evaluated targets. These findings have implications for teaching writing to engineering students.

Keywords