A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication (and technical writing).


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Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction   (Word)   (peer-reviewed)

Proposes that educational institutions continue to improve the uses of writing in society in two ways: extend writing across the curriculum efforts and raise the awareness of students, the university community, and the public to the role of writing in society by having those who study writing teach an introductory liberal arts course on it. Both are important steps toward removing the remedial stigma attached to writing and its teaching, and toward combating the myth of autonomous literacy that reinforces the remedial stigma.

Russell, David R. Iowa State University (1995). Articles>Education>Writing>Activity Theory


Administering Teacher Technology Training   (peer-reviewed)

The collection of materials included here are designed to assist those, who for the first time, find themselves administering and developing an ongoing program for training teachers to use technology in the composition classroom.

Carnegie, Teena A.M., Amy C. Kimme Hea, Melinda Turley and David Menchaca. Kairos (2003). Articles>Education>Technology>Writing


Approximately "Real World" Learning with the Hybrid Model

Most workplace professionals write documents in a fairly mature way. They typically write: Independently or with collaborators, without direct or constant supervision; With frequent interaction with team members at remote locations, and not just with those at their own division or company; With computers and other electronic equipment; and With the freedom to make important decisions about project and time management, such as determining when and how to interact with others, how to collaborate with irresponsible writing partners, how to resolve unexpected problems that arise, and how to meet deadlines despite mishaps and obstacles. How can instructors of business and professional writing prepare students for the relative freedom and independence of this kind of thinking and writing?

Spilka, Rachel. Teaching With Technology Today (2002). Articles>Education>Writing>Workplace


Are You Blogging Yet?

Web logs (also called 'weblogs' or 'blogs') are frequently updated website commentaries, short or long, organized chronically and sometimes include the blogger’s personal life.

Berger, Pam. Scarsdale Schools (2004). Articles>Writing>Education>Blogging


Beyond Economics: Intersections and Opportunities with Adam Smith in the Writing and Rhetoric Classroom

My paper will focus on how the reconsiderations and explorations of Smith’s two best known and most published works are important not only for economists, business students, and rhetoric scholars but also offer opportunities for writing instructors seeking to connect with students in writing classrooms.

Smith-Sitton, Lara. Xchanges (2011). Articles>Education>Rhetoric>Writing


Beyond Internationalization: Multicultural Education in the Professional Writing Contact Zone   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To bridge the gap between composition and professional communication studies, we should add multiculturalism to the widely accepted international perspective in professional communication instruction, thus transforming the classroom into a contact zone (Pratt). The practical necessity of intercultural communication in a global marketplace necessitates internationalization. The international perspective, accounting for the heterogeneity of the technical communication audience, focuses on audience analysis and leads us to encourage students to learn about the multiple, cultural layers of audience. A multicultural perspective, however, can teach students of professional communication about the complex relationship between language and ideology and the underlying forces that shape and reflect the ways we use language. Multiculturalism's critical component provides insights into the structures and ideologies of domination/subordination and provides students with the linguistic, intellectual, and moral tools for resisting fear and prejudices. Likewise, the international perspective in professional communication can inform issues of audience analysis in composition.

Grobman, Laurie. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


Blogging Explained

Over the past 14 years blogging has evolved from crude and blunt internet ramblings, technical or inspired dialogues to a diverse and creative web phenomenon capable of calling the world's media to scrutiny, and no longer the province of late-night diarists but increasingly a platform and media release opportunity for industry and commerce.

Vincent Zegna. Sonet Digital (2006). Articles>Education>Writing>Blogging


Books Every Technical Writer Should Read

A look at six books that every technical communicator should consider reading. While these books aren't about technical writing, you can apply their lessons to the job.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>Education>Technical Writing


Can DITA Train Writers? Or Does it Require Too Much Programming?

Because writers have to immediately place the information they want to record into one of these three types of information, they are being trained on how to write in a task-oriented, performance-based manner, via DITA. I am especially interested in this “training” for wiki authors and talked about the idea at our recent presentation.

Gentle, Anne. Just Write Click (2009). Articles>Education>Technical Writing>DITA


The Canisius Project: From Field-Work To Classroom   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

In the Canisius Project for Writing Across the Curriculum, we have studied the writing worlds of business, social services, science and technology, and 'public life' (the media, public relations, law, fund raising, and the like). For all these fields, our research has followed the same basic pattern. We begin with an initial interview, using a questionnaire which asks about the range of tasks, the problems, the methods, and the significance of the person's work world writing. Then we collect a portfolio of the person's writings. As an ideal, we request at least one sample of each kind of writing, with several samples of the most frequent and important kinds. After studying the portfolio, we return for a taped interview which focuses on specific features of selected pieces of writing. At the end of each research sequence, we hold a workshop which brings together researchers, faculty from the relevant departments, and as many as possible of our work world writers. Near the end of the workshop, the group defines some of the goals and methods most important for an upper level writing course which is to be aimed at, but not restricted to, business majors, or social science majors, or science majors, or humanities majors. (The groups of majors correspond to our research sequences: business, social services, science and technology, and, for want of a better term, public life.)

Schroeder, Melvin W. and Kenneth M. Sroka. JAC (1981). Articles>Education>Writing Across the Curriculum


The Case for Writing Studies as a Major Discipline    (peer-reviewed)

Literate activity, directly and indirectly, occupies much of the day of people in modern society. Literacy in its basic and more elaborated, specialized forms is the cornerstone in the education of the young. Literacy and symbolic artifacts underlay the information age and its information economy. Literacy along with its enabling technologies and consequent forms of social, political, and economic organization, has supported ways of life that distinguish us from humans of 5000 years ago. Literate engagement is also associated with forms of belief, commitment, and consciousness that shape modern personality. Yet the study of writing--its production, its circulation, its uses, its role in the development of individuals and societies, and its learning by individuals, social collectives, and historically emergent cultures--remains a dispersed enterprise. Inquiry into skills, practices, objects, and consequences of reading and writing is the concern of only a few people, fragmented across university disciplines, with no serious home of its own.

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB (2002). Articles>Education>Writing


Changes In the Training of Writing Teachers   (peer-reviewed)

English departments are once again confronted with charges in the popular media that the illiteracy of the American people generally, and of recent high school graduates in particular, constitutes a disturbing or perhaps even a dangerous state which we should regard as having reached 'crisis' proportions. In the past, this public concern has been directed primarily at reading ability, but in its present form, it focuses on writing skill. Not surprisingly, much of the commentary has been directed at elementary and secondary school teachers. Time emblazoned the news that 'Teachers Can't Teach' across the cover of its June 16, 1980, issue, then devoted several pages to a critical analysis of the shortcomings in modern American education. The authors of that article estimated that up to twenty percent of certified teachers have not mastered the 'basic skills' that they are supposed to teach.1 If this estimate is accurate—and most Americans believe, intuitively at least that it is—then we must recognize that not only are teachers unskilled in areas outside their expertise, but also, more frightening, they are incompetent within areas in which they ostensibly are trained. And since, as Charles Moran and J. T. Skerrett recently pointed out two of the three traditional Rs of basic education are within the province of the English teachers, we must be particularly sensitive to the criticism presently being leveled at teacher inability.

Ward, Jay A. JAC (1981). Articles>Education>Writing


The Changing Space of Research: Web 2.0 and the Integration of Research and Writing Environments    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Web 2.0 challenges the artificial compartmentalization of research and writing that often characterizes instruction in composition classes. In Web 2.0, writing and researching activities are increasingly integrated both spatially and conceptually. This article contends that, with this integration, Web 2.0 technologies showcase how research and writing together participate in knowledge production. Through analyzing specific technologies that incorporate Web 2.0 features, including Wikipedia, JSTOR, ARTstor, and del.icio.us, this article argues that including Web 2.0 technologies in composition courses as objects of analysis and as writing and researching resources offers a means to bridge the gap between students’ online proficiencies and academic writing tasks.

Purdy, James P. Computers and Composition (2010). Articles>Education>Writing>Social Networking


Changing the Center of Gravity: Collaborative Writing Program Administration in Large Universities   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Technical communication practices have been changed dramatically by the increasingly ubiquitous nature of digital technologies. Yet, while those who work in the profession have been living through this dramatic change, our academic discipline has been moving at a slower pace, at times appearing quite unsure about how to proceed. This article focuses on the following three areas of opportunity for change in our discipline in relation to digital technologies: access and expectations, scholarship and community building, and accountability and partnering.

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard D. and Charles Paine. Technical Communication Quarterly (2004). Articles>Education>Writing>Collaboration


Clashing Technologies: The Legacy of 19th Century Writing Instruction Meets the 21st Century Writing Classroom

In most writing classrooms, the primary activity is not writing per se, but rather the discussion of writing. You know the drill: as teachers, we create a writing assignment, introduce it during class, ask students if they have any questions, and send them off to work on the assignment. When students return to class with a draft of the assignment, we might discuss it as a class or perhaps put the students through a peer review session. But only rarely do we ask our students to actually write during class.

Palmquist, Mike. Lore (2001). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric


Classical Rhetoric and Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

English departments, eager to boost enrollment, may press teachers into duty teaching technical writing courses on short notice and with little preparation.

Lunsford, Andrea A. CCC (1976). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


"Coffee Stains": How to Remove the Blots Quickly and Easily   (PDF)

Trainers and others in the professional development field have a dual mission (among other responsibilities): to identify written 'coffee stains' and, equally important, to find and use as many effective approaches as possible to get the word out to the largest number of users.

Houser, Barbara J. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Education>Writing


Cogito Ergo Scribo: Applying Self-Schema Theory to the Composition Classroom

I believe that integrating a writing schema into an already existing self-schema for students is not difficult. The answer lies in WID (Writing in the Disciplines). All students have a possible self that they are trying to attain by majoring in a certain area. What we should do, then, is show students how writing can be relevant to their possible selves.

Cruz, Joshua. Xchanges (2011). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric


A Collegiate Writing Program for the 1980s

The two growth areas right now are the English as a second language (ESL) courses and the business and technical writing courses. The ESL courses fall outside the province of this paper, but the business and technical writing courses are very pertinent.

Corbett, Edward P.J. ADE Bulletin (1989). Articles>Education>Writing


Composing Across Multiple Media   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This is a qualitative case study of two students' composing processes as they developed a documentary video about the Dominican Republic in an urban, public middle school classroom. While using a digital video editing program, the students moved across multiple media (the Web, digital video, books, and writing), drawing semiotic resources from each as they did so. Using sociosemiotic and dialogic-intertextual theoretical frameworks, the author examines how the interface of the video editing program influenced the students' composing by making new types of semiotic resources available and new means of combining these resources. As they moved across these media in a nonlinear fashion, the students created an interactive context for composing that transcended the individual possibilities of each respective medium. This suggests that multimedial composing environments offer a rich intertextual landscape and unique ways of making meanings.

Ranker, Jason. Written Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Writing>Multimedia


Composition Teachers: No Experience Necessary?

It's Monday, September 8, your first day in law school. Tonight you'll start your classes. You'll be taking Criminal Law and Procedure on Mondays, Basic Contract Law on Tuesdays, and Property and Law on Wednesdays. But before going to any of those classes, you are, at eight o'clock this morning, given your first task as a law student. You'll be trying a case in superior court. It doesn't matter what the case is; the defendant's future is on the line, and you are responsible for it. The fact that you've never taken a law course before and basically have no idea what to do in court also doesn't matter. After all, the way to learn to do something is by doing it. And if this defendant gets cheated out of the right to the best lawyer possible, and if the next several defendants also get cheated, does that really matter? Someday, chances are, you'll be a great lawyer. The above scenario is nothing less than ridiculous, yet in English departments across the country a similar scenario takes place at the start of every semester.

Webster, Janice Gohm. ADE Bulletin (1989). Articles>Education>Writing


Compositionality, Rhetoricity, and Electricity: A Partial History of Some Composition and Rhetoric Studies

Since 1949, when the Conference on College Composition and Communication was founded in Chicago, the terms composition and rhetoric have been linked in a social-constructionist move that is now ubiquitous in many United Statesian English departments as well as in many free-standing composition-rhetoric programs.

Welch, Kathleen E. Enculturation (2003). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric


A Computer Writing Environment for Professional Writers and Students Learning to Write   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

While some models of computer writing environments have emerged in the literature on writing, most of them are done with the purpose of helping writers in an academic context and very few, if any, with the aim of facilitating the work of professional writers or students in professional writing. We think, however, that we can learn from the previous models to build a multi-purpose computer writing environment that will take into account the needs of the professional writers as well as those of the students learning to write. We will begin by looking at some models of writing proposed by Hayes and Flower in 1980 and also at the model of White and Arndt. Afterwards, we will review the model of professional writers developed by Clerc and link it with the previous models. We will then have to look at some computer writing environments described in the literature and see how these environments take into account the process and tasks identified in writing. Finally, we will suggest our model.

Bisaillon, Jocelyne, Isabelle Clerc, and Jacques Ladouceur. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>Education>Computers and Writing>Writing


Conservation Writing: An Emerging Field in Technical Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article discusses the rise of conservation writing as a new field of technical communication, and it offers pedagogical strategies for teaching conservation writing and building curricula. Conservation writing is an umbrella term for a range of writing about ecology, biology, the outdoors, and environmental policies and ethics. It places the natural world at the center of readers' attention, often viewing sustainability as a core value. A course or curriculum in this kind of writing would likely need to help students master a variety of genres, while providing a working knowledge in environmental law, ethics, and politics.

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard D. and Larry Morgan. Technical Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Education>Environmental>Technical Writing


Constructing Trust Between Teacher and Students Through Feedback and Revision Cycles in an EFL Writing Classroom   (members only)

The authors' goal was to model the role played by the relationship between a writing teacher and her students in the feedback and revision cycle they experienced in an English-as-a-foreign-language context. Participants included a nonnative teacher of English and 14 students enrolled in her English writing class in a Korean university. Data came from formal, informal, and text-based interviews; semester-long classroom observations; and students' drafts with teacher comments. Findings showed that caring was enacted in complex and reciprocal ways, influenced by interwoven factors from the greater society, the course, the teacher, and the student. Students' level of trust in the teacher's English ability, teaching practices, and written feedback, as much as the teacher's trust in particular students based on how they revised their drafts, played a great role in the development of a caring relationship between them.

Lee, Given and Diane L. Schallert. Written Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Writing>Assessment



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