Date of Award

Spring 2023

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aviation


College of Aviation

Committee Chair

Jennifer E. Thropp, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Lindsey Ives, Ph.D.

College Dean

Alan J. Stolzer, Ph.D.


Strong communication skills are fundamental to workplace success in the field of aviation. Numerous studies have shown that a deficiency in communication skills contributes to aviation accidents, and, as a result, the development of communication competencies within the aviation industry has received considerable critical attention. Understanding the acquisition and subsequent progression of writing skills throughout a pilot’s education, specifically in preparatory aviation courses, is an emerging area of research in aviation communication.

This study examined how the level of supplemental discipline-specific guidance affects the writing quality of incident report narratives composed by collegiate pilot students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). One-hundred and fifty-nine participants were randomly assigned into three groups with differing levels of discipline-specific guidance: no guidance, guidance in the form of incident report guidelines from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), and guidance in the form of incident report narrative examples from the ASRS. Three aviation subject matter experts (SMEs) assessed the quality of the narratives according to the benchmarks established by the reliable and validated American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) written communication rubric.

Six Kruskal-Wallis H tests were conducted to analyze statistical differences between group medians for the overall rubric score and for the score of each of the five rubric elements. No significant differences were found between groups of students who received different discipline-specific guidance. However, when guidance was not considered a covariate, significant differences in rubric scores were found between native and non-native English speakers and between domestic and international students. A significant correlation was also found between median total rubric score and agreement with “Writing is an important skill to have as a pilot.” Further research on genre-based practices and discipline-specific guidance is necessary to provide additional insight and a more thorough examination of how the writing quality of incident report narratives can be improved to aid in effective and efficient safety operations in the aviation industry.