A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Little, Joseph

5 found.

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Achieving Objectivity Through Genred Activity: A Case Study   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Finding itself at the center of highly publicized legal and political deliberations over fairness in testing, personnel credibility, and legal liability, the training department at a North American transit authority adopted a genre system that enabled the production of objective evidence of job competence, which was then used to make objective decisions about who passed and failed various training programs. The ongoing genre-structured activity of the department involved not only the regularization of organizational texts but also the regularization of social interaction mediated by those texts, which, while producing the types of interpretively stable documents required for successful public deliberation, led to a shift in authority and social relations within the department that instigated considerable resentment and loss of morale among many veteran instructors.

Little, Joseph. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Writing>Instructional Design>Genre


Confusion in the Classroom: Does Logos Mean Logic?   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The redefinition of logos as an appeal to logic is a mistaken association found all too often in the technical communication classroom. Logic inheres in all three proofs of persuasion; moreover, Aristotle used <em>logos</em> within the context of classical rhetoric to refer to the argument or speech itself. In this light, the proofs of persuasion represent the set of all logical means whereby the speaker can lead a "right-thinking" audience to infer <em>something</em>. If that <em>something</em> is an emotion, the appeal is to <em>pathos</em>; if it is about the character of the speaker, the appeal is to <em>ethos</em>; and if it is about the argument or speech itself, the appeal is to <em>logos</em>. This interpretation reinstates all three proofs of persuasion as legitimate, logical means to different proximate ends and provides a coherent definition of <em>logos</em>, consonant with Aristotle's <em>Rhetoric</em>, to the next generation of technical communicators.

Little, Joseph. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>TC>Education>Rhetoric


The Peter Effect in Early Experimental Education Research   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

One of the signatures of scientific writing is its ability to present the claims of science as if they were "untouched by human hands." In the early years of experimental education, researchers achieved this by adopting a citational practice that led to the sedimentation of their cardinal method, the analysis of variance, and their standard for statistical significance, 0.05. This essentially divorces their statistical framework from its historical conditions of production. Researchers suppressed their own agency through the use of passive voice and nominalization. With their own agency out of the way, they imbued the methods, results, and presentational devices themselves with the active agency of the situation through the use of personification. Such a depiction creates the impression that the researchers and audience stand on equal epistemic ground as interested witnesses to the autonomous activity of a third party, the method, which churns out the brute facts of science.

Little, Joseph. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2003). Articles>Research>Statistics>Education


Toward Sociocultural Sensitivity in Rhetorical Studies of Analogy: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In their macroscopic approach to analogy, rhetorical studies project the latent assumption that sound analogical reasoning is a universal property of human consciousness rather than a socioculturally inherited practice that varies over time and place. After drawing briefly from landmark work in the social sciences to show notable cases of cultural variation in analogical reasoning, I present Lev Vygotsky's concept of internalization and Dedre Gentner's structure mapping theory of analogy as fruitful theoretical and methodological avenues through which to detect sociocultural variation in analogical reasoning practices in science.

Little, Joseph. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2001). Articles>TC>Linguistics>Tropes


Understanding Statistical Significance: A Conceptual History   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Few concepts in the social sciences have wielded more discriminatory power over the status of knowledge claims than that of statistical significance. Currently operationalized as a = 0.05, statistical significance frequently separates publishable from nonpublishable research, renewable from nonrenewable grants, and, in the eyes of many, experimental success from failure. If literacy is envisioned as a sort of competence in a set of social and intellectual practices, then scientific literacy must encompass the realization that this cardinal arbiter of social scientific knowledge was not born out of an immanent logic of mathematics but socially constructed and reconstructed in response to sociohistoric conditions.

Little, Joseph. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2001). Articles>Research>Statistics>History

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