Your Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) professor is right: Mines students need more writing practice. While these book reports or ethics papers might seem pointless now, the writing experience gained from these classes is invaluable to a career.
Through a combination of discouraging teachers, horrible creative writing assignments, and my own stubbornness, I was soured on writing overall throughout middle and high school. It’s part of what made me want to be an engineer. “Engineering is mostly math, you won’t have to write that much,” they said. They lied. A majority of core engineering classes require report writing, and the report is often most of the grade for a given project. Any job or internship will also require lots of report writing, with even higher stakes than the iron lab report In CHGN121. By graduation, students get a ton of practice writing reports.
So why do we need to write research essays in HASS classes when we already write a ton of reports? Because, even with all the practice we get writing reports, we still kinda suck at writing them (myself included). I’ve peer reviewed my fair share of unreadable reports, and gotten roasted on my own reports for being unreadable themselves. Research papers, book reports, and persuasive writing in HASS classes can help improve our writing skills on engineering reports. The process of writing a paper for a HASS class is basically the same as writing a lab report, with a few different steps. Having to condense information from books or readings into a persuasive argument in Nature and Human Values (NHV) is great practice for condensing experiment data and calculations into a lab report. By challenging students to write papers that aren’t just scientific reports, the HASS classes give us an opportunity to practice writing while thinking about more than just presenting data.
Interpreting experimental results and coming to a scientific conclusion in reports is basically the entire point of writing a report, and often I find that this is the most difficult part of any report to write. Especially in a job or internship setting, writing a clear and concise report going through the results and how they were obtained is crucial to anyone taking your work seriously. A robotic report full of messed up commas and weirdly phrased sentences isn’t going to get anyone far in a company. HASS essays allow for extra experience and perspective on writing that will make our reports in the future better to read and easier to write. So next time you’re forced to write 2500 words about some book you barely read, keep a positive attitude and treat it as practice for the more important reports in the future. Good report writers get promotions, promotions get money, money buys food, and food is great. Do it for the food.