Example 1

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With these examples, I’ve tried to show how you might write a critique. I’ve used three different
criteria but am not suggesting that you should use these criteria. Development of your own criteria
is an important part of the assessment item.

You should be aware that I am not an ENG1001 student so have not taken part in any of your report
writing learning activities. How you actually report the content may very well be different from the
way the examples are set out. You need to decide this for yourself as this decision is part of the

Good luck with Assignment 2!! Sandra (Faculty Librarian)

The example critiques have been made of:

        Flateby, T & Fehr, R 2008, ‘Assessing and improving writing in the engineering
        curriculum’, International Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 901-
        905, viewed 24 August 2008, <http://www.ijee.dit.ie/>.

You will notice that different areas of each example are shaded. I’ve done this to help you see how
the critique is working:

       Yellow shading denotes an explanation of the criteria I have developed

       Blue shading denotes examples of text designed to show the marker that I understand why
        this criteria is important

Example 1:
Although Flateby and Fehr’s introduction provides a clear description of the engineering education
situation faced by both students and their teachers, it fails to achieve the central purpose of an
introduction. The introduction should signal, to the reader, whether this is a paper worth reading.
Whether it is worth reading will depend on how the paper’s content matches the reader’s
information need. The introduction should provide “a clear and detailed map” (Essay writing n.d.) of
the paper’s content and, if applicable, “a statement of the writer's position” (Essay writing n.d.).

We recommend that Flateby and Fehr re-write their Introduction so it alerts the reader to the
following issues discussed in their paper:
      The educational situation that has prompted the work described in the paper
      The writing scale itself

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      The purpose of the writing scale
      The learning outcomes achieved for students
      Evidence of the claimed success.
By providing a map such as this, the busy engineering educator can quickly see if he/she should read
this article or select another better suited to his/her information needs.

The Introduction’s reference to the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology’s (ABET)
requirements for engineering students is very useful to the reader as many potential readers will
have their own similar accreditation factors to deal with. In Australia the Engineers Australia Stage 1
competencies for the Associate Degree (Engineering Australia n.d.), Bachelor of Engineering
Technology (Engineering Australia n.d.) and Bachelor of Engineering (Engineering Australia n.d.) all
deal with similar communication issues.

Example 2:
Development and presentation of ideas and arguments
A clear and logical development and presentation of ideas and arguments is vital for effective
professional and scholarly communication. Although Flateby and Fehr provide valuable insights for
the engineering educator, their verbosity (see the first paragraph under A promising solution as an
example) makes the messages difficult to discern. Many sentences must be read several times
before they can be understood.

This creates two significant problems for the reader. First, as busy professionals, engineering
educators may have neither the time nor inclination to persist with a paper that requires so much
effort. Second, lack of clarity in written expression easily leads to misinterpretation. In an
engineering education context this is important as readers may be looking to apply the work and
experiences of colleagues to improve their own work with students. The misapplication of an
assessment tool could have negative implications for students’ learning experiences and outcomes.

Many suggestions for improvement could be made but listing these is neither a constructive nor
learning-centred (Anderson 2004) approach to feedback. Instead we recommend that the authors
implement the earlier recommended changes to the introduction. This amended introduction will
provide a clear and logical guide to the paper’s restructure and re-writing. In essence, the
introduction acts not only as a guide to the reader, but to the author during his/her writing process.

Example 3:
Despite its limitations in written expression, the paper is well referenced. In-text citations make the
sources of information very clear and this adds credibility to the work presented. The referencing
style is consistently applied in-text and in the referencing list.

The referencing style used, though, has one major disadvantage. Journal titles are recorded using
abbreviation rather than the full journal title. This leaves the reader guessing what the journal title
might be, making it difficult to follow up on any of the references used. We cannot, however,

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recommend changes here a Flateby and Fehr are restricted by the journal’s required referencing

You should be able to apply these criteria to evaluate your own work. Can you see a place where I
have failed to meet my own standards?

If you can find them, email me at Sandra.Cochrane@usq.edu.au and there will be a little surprise for
the first three people who find them 


Anderson, A 2004, ‘Toward a theory of online learning’, in T Anderson & F Elloumi (eds), Theory and
practice of online learning, Athabasca University, Athabasca, viewed 2 March 2007,

Australian engineering competency standards – stage 1 competency standards for engineering
associates n.d., Engineers Australia, viewed 2 September 2009,

Australian engineering competency standards – stage 1 competency standards for engineering
technologists n.d., Engineers Australia, viewed 2 September 2009,

Australian engineering competency standards – stage 1 competency standards for professional
engineers n.d., Engineers Australia, viewed 2 September 2009,

Essay writing (n.d.), The Learning Centre, University of Southern Queensland, viewed 26 August

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