Nancy Barr


PhD Student


Research Area: Methods of helping mechanical engineering graduate teaching assistants develop self-efficacy in evaluating student writing. For Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines programs to be successful, they must incorporate disciplinary GTAs into the process of teaching and evaluating student writing. My work focuses on methods of helping GTAs, many of whom speak and write English as a second or third language, develop confidence in their abilities to guide students in technical writing and effectively evaluate student work. I explore the use of tools such as grading rubrics and lab handbooks as well as various training methods such as roundtable discussion, practice sessions, grade-norming sessions, and lecture.

My research interests include critical theory in education, disciplinary writing theory, and STEM graduate education. My dissertation project is focused on the effectiveness of a program that trains graduate teaching assistants in mechanical engineering to provide feedback on undergraduate student writing.

Teaching: As Technical Communications and Senior Design Program Advisor for one of the largest undergraduate mechanical engineering programs in the country, I work with faculty and teaching staff on incorporating technical communication learning opportunities into their courses and best practices in evaluation of student work. I also teach a graduate-level course, MEEM 6010 Engineering Research Communication, for engineering researches seeking to improve their technical writing and presentation skills. In addition, I am a frequent guest lecturer on communication issues in several MEEM undergraduate and graduate courses.

University Activities: I am a past chair of the University Senate’s Fringe Benefits Committee and a member of the Safe Place Program and MEEM Senior Design Committee.

Student Life: I have lived in the Copper Country for nearly 10 years and enjoy the outdoors all four seasons with activities such as hiking, running, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and outdoor photography. As a published novelist, I love living in such a vibrant, creative community.