A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Theory

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Activity theory is a psychological meta-theory, paradigm, or framework, with its roots in the Soviet psychologist Vygotsky's cultural-historical psychology. It seeks to understand human activities as complex, socially-situated phenomena and go beyond paradigms of psychoanalysis and behaviorism.

 

1.
#19005

Action Point Teorien

Action point teorien et udviklet af Geoffrey Brown i 1999, og tager udgangspunkt i, at et website skal fokusere på brugerens mål med at besøge websitet. Ved brug af action point teorien vil brugeren få en mere positiv oplevelse, og derigennem vil websitet med større sandsynlighed blive besøgt igen, frem for at brugeren prøver et konkurrerende website.

Quark, The (2002). (Danish) Design>Web Design>Theory

2.
#15074

Activity Theory

Activity theory was developed in the Soviet Union. The philosophical underpinnings of this theory include the ideas of Hegel and Kant, as well as the theory of dialectical materialism developed by Marx and Engels. The theory evolved from the work of Vygotsky as he formulated a new method of studying thought and consciousness. Vygotsky was working on this theory at a time when the prevalent dominant psychological theories were based on reflexology (stimulus-response - which was later developed into behaviorism) and psychoanalysis. Reflexology attempted to ban consciousness by reducing all psychological phenomena to a series of stimulus-response chains.

Mappin, David, Michele Kelly, Bonnie Skaalid and Sharon Bratt. University of Alberta. Academic>Course Materials>Theory>Rhetoric

3.
#31378

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

4.
#36051

Activity Theory and Rhetoric of Empowerment: A Framework for Disaster  (link broken)

This paper focuses on multiple theoretical perspectives that can be combined to provide a framework for analyzing systems under stress. The first section presents an overview of the underlying theories that were used in an application study to illustrate tensions stemming from an imbalance of power in a complex system involving multiple activity systems.

Hurt, Kyle. We Heart Theory (2009). Articles>TC>Rhetoric>Activity Theory

5.
#37428

Activity Theory, Speech Acts, and the ‘‘Doctrine of Infelicity’’: Connecting Language and Technology in Globally Networked Learning Environments   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article draws on activity theory, politics of the artifact, and speech act theory to analyze how language practices and technology interplay in establishing the social relationships necessary for globally networked teams. Specifically, it uses activity theory to examine how linguistic infelicities and the politics of communication technologies interplay in virtual meetings, thereby demonstrating the importance of grounding professional communication instruction in social as well as technical effectiveness. That is, students must learn not only how to communicate technical concepts clearly and concisely and recognize cultural differences but also how to use language and choose media in ways that produce the social conditions necessary for effective collaboration in globally networked environments. The article analyzes two case studies—a workplace and a classroom—that illustrate how the mediating functions of language and the politics of technology intersect as mediating tools in globally networked activity systems. It then traces the implications of that intersection for professional communication theory and pedagogy.

McNair, Lisa D. and Marie C. Paretti. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Education>International>Activity Theory

6.
#19837

Activity Theory: A Versatile Framework for Workplace Research  (link broken)   (PDF)

During the past decade activity theory has attracted a small but influential group of researchers in two fields that contribute to theory and research in technical communication: human-computer interaction and composition studies. In my STC-sponsored research into electronic editing in technical communication, I am applying activity theory to provide a coherent explanatory perspective on the findings of the qualitative portion of my study. This paper provides a brief introduction to activity theory and applies its analytical framework to help make sense of the qualitative data I gathered on electronic editing practices and attitudes in three different technical communication workplaces.

Dayton, David. STC Proceedings (2000). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory>Activity Theory

7.
#15069

Activity Theory: Basic Concepts and Applications  (link broken)

This tutorial introduces participants to Activity Theory, a conceptual approach that provides a broad framework for describing the structure, development, and context of computer-supported activities. The tutorial will consist of lectures, discussion and small group exercises. A Web community will be established so attendees will be able to continue to learn about and use activity theory.

Kaptelinin, Victor and Bonnie A. Nardi. ACM SIGCHI (1997). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Theory>Rhetoric

8.
#14054

The Affective Domain and the Writing Process: Working Definitions   (peer-reviewed)

Since the time of classical Greece, we have been accustomed to viewing humans as both thinking and feeling individuals. The dichotomy of cognition and affect is so ingrained in Western thought that it seems a natural one; the two elements have seldom, however, been deemed equally important in the scientific community. During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, psychology gave primacy to affect; humans were thought to be at the mercy of various drives and passions. As behaviorism became more domiúnant in the field, affect was discounted; indeed, there were those who wished to exclude affect from scientific study altogether. More recently, with the ascendancy of cognitive psychology, humans have been viewed as problem-solvers whose thinking processes operate rather like a computer. Often in such a view, affect is seen as “a regrettable flaw in an otherwise perfect cognitive machine” (Scherer 293). But most researchers who study human behavior and human nature agree that the views of both extremes—emphasizing only affect or only cognition—are undesirable.

McLeod, Susan H. JAC (1991). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

9.
#38669

Analyzing Computer-Mediated Communication in Professional Environments: An Activity Theory Approach

CMC is not an end in itself, but a way to accomplish cyclical work objectives. CMC genres are part of an ecology of genres, providing additional ways to communicate, ways that interact with other genres. To understand how these ecologies of genres work in professional environments, we must understand the activities they mediate. To investigate, I (and many others in professional communication) have turned to field studies.

Spinuzzi, Clay. SlideShare (2012). Presentations>Research>Workplace>Activity Theory

10.
#14071

Anxiety In Action: Sullivan's Interpersonal Psychiatry as a Supplement to Vygotskian Psychology  (link broken)

Is there a way to deal with such psychiatric issues in a way that is consistent with the psychological theory of Vygotsky and his followers? Or do these issues represent a totally different subject matter belonging to the distinctive disciplines of psychiatry and clinical psychology, which use entirely different intellectual, investigative, and practical tools? Are Vygotskian approaches to being human in fact blind to major processes of human interpersonal development and to the consequences of that development for the social participation that Vygotsky identifies as the source of higher mental processes?

Bazerman, Charles. UCSB (1994). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

11.
#13101

Application of Theory: Minimalism and User Centered Design  (link broken)   (PDF)

In the discipline of software and information development, minimalist design is not just doing with less (less features, words, widgets). It is selectively choosing what to include or eliminate with the purpose of making it easier for the user to quickly learn about a product in a natural and painless way and to start using it to do real work. User centered design fits well with minimalist theory because it incorporates user feedback throughout the development cycle. It is the best way to find out what customers actually do with your product and learn first-hand how you can help them with their goals. My team applied both these theories to our task of designing and building a set of samples for a Web development product. This paper shares our struggles and successes.

Lou, Mary Mazzara. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Usability>User Centered Design>Theory

12.
#13096

Applying Technical Communication Theory in the Workplace: Can Theoretical Frameworks Survive in the World of e-Business?   (PDF)

Technical communication is usually seen as a practical profession -- one that emphasizes products, process and results -- rather than one that emphasizes theory and broad, generalized application of research results.

Grice, Roger A. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>TC>Workplace>Theory

13.
#13855

An Approach for Applying Cultural Study Theory to Technical Writing Research   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

When the idea of culture is expanded to include institutional relationships extending beyond the walls of one organization, technical writing researchers can address relationships between our power/knowledge system and multiculturalism, postmodernism, gender, conflict, and ethics within professional communication. This article contrasts ideas of culture in social constructionist and cultural study research designs, addressing how each type of design impacts issues that can be analyzed in research studies. Implications for objectivity and validity in speculative cultural study research are also explored. Finally, since articulation of a coherent theoretical foundation is crucial to limiting a cultural study, this article suggests how technical writing can be constituted as an object of study according to five (of many possible) poststructural concepts: the object of inquiry as discursive, the object as practice within a cultural context, the object as practice within a historical context, the object as ordered by language, and the object in relationship with the one who studies it.

Longo, Bernadette. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Academic>Research>Cultural Theory>Technical Writing

14.
#19357

Are Shared Discourses Desirable?

Some kind of shared discourse is needed for the shared work of the academic community to continue; and even more so, this paper argues that the nation needs some kind of shared discourse in which to address the pressing problems that confront us all.

Bizzell, Patricia. JAC (1994). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

15.
#18317

Argumentation: An Overview of Theoretical Approaches and Research Themes  (link broken)

Argumentation is a phenomenon we are confronted with daily. We argue all the time for our own views and we react continually to oral or written argumentation put forward by others. Apart from being a verbal activity, argumentation is also a social activity directed at other people. On top of that, it is a rational activity aimed at defending a standpoint in such a way that it is acceptable to a reasonable judge.

van Eemeren, Frans H. Argumentation (2002). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

16.
#26691

An Articulation of a Fragmented Discipline: A Postmodern Conception of Formalism and Rhetoric in Professional Communication

If a single course is to be an effective representation of the discipline it should hope to include rhetoric, critical thinking, formalism, service learning, and civic rhetoric to, depending on how effectively so much can be managed within a semester.

Hicks, Tim. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>TC>Theory

17.
#13728

The Author's Voice and the Reader's Role: An Analysis of Rhetorical Issues in How-to Texts  (link broken)

In mainstream computer applications such as Microsoft Word for Windows version 6.0, one will find a User's Guide included with the product. This User's Guide is a primary manual. It is included with the software application. A visit to any large bookstore will also reveal a large number of manuals about Word. Called secondary manuals, these manuals are not written by the same software development company that produced Word, nor are they included with Word. Both types of manuals are produced by technical writers and in many ways are similar in scope, content and cognitive strategies. However, in other respects some primary and secondary manuals are quite different, and that difference is the focus of this thesis.

Chatfield, Carl S. Wisechat.com (1995). Books>Rhetoric>Theory

18.
#18951

Authority in Hypertext  (link broken)

This is an alternative/modified title page for a web of documents focused on the issue of authority and exists as the result of my decision to include this site on authority in hypertext as part of another project. This page exists for several reasons: the passage of time, the nature of the WWW, and the fact that the authority web exists. I will briefly discuss each of these reasons.

Clark, Dave, Roxanne Clemens, Christianna I. White and Mark Zachry. Iowa State University. Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

19.
#31364

Avoiding Wrong Turns in the Shrinking Global Village

With the global village growing smaller every year, more and more communication professionals are taking on assignments that span a wide range of countries and cultures. Cross-border responsibilities require that you constantly expand your horizons and learn about new places and people. At the same time, it can be more than a little daunting to get up to speed on each country’s business and social conventions—and when the two do and don’t mix.

Bird, Shelley. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>International>Cultural Theory

20.
#14313

Basic Communication Theory

In the 1940's researchers at Bell Telephone Laboratories devised a model of the process of human communication. This model consists of numeous elements.

Malik, Suman Lata. Technical Communications Group (2000). Books>Rhetoric>Theory

21.
#18881

A Body of Criticism   (peer-reviewed)

The nature of hypertext challenges many underlying assumptions for traditional literary critics. Literary critics frequently like to think that they have objectively looked at the lexias of the work, thoughtfully considered them, and constructed a solid interpretation or analysis of the work based on those lexia. Hypertext, however, presents the possibility that two critics who are reading the same work may have differing sets of lexia from which to work. Thus, even if critics objectively consider the lexia before them, they cannot free themselves from the subjectivity of the reading performance that made those lexia (and not others) appear. This raises the concern that, if hypertext critics can only present subjective views of the text, there may be little or no benefit to reading or writing those critiques.

Higgason, Richard E. Journal of Digital Information (2003). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext>Theory

22.
#22190

Border? What Border? Documents are Interfaces   (peer-reviewed)

Documents are interfaces. In situations where documents help us do tasks - whether simple or complex - they look and act like software interfaces. Academics in technical communication are in the business of helping people learn to design, build, analyze, and assess these interfaces. Yet, only occasionally do we admit this responsibility. Judging from our curricula, our research journals, and our textbooks, we still view this responsibility as somehow distinct from what we do to teach 'technical writing,' 'technical editing,' or 'document design.' It isn't.

Hart-Davidson, William. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>User Interface>Theory

23.
#29917

Review: Bridging the Gap between Cultural Studies Theory and the World of the Working Practitioner  (link broken)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Cultural studies is an academic field that focuses on understanding the unchallenged assumptions that constrain and shape communication and related interactions among people. Although the field has made considerable progress in the last half-century, many practitioners have either never encountered the field, or have encountered it only through extremist advocates who do the field a great disservice. As a result, they have lost the ability to benefit from the insights provided by cultural studies. In this paper, I review the recent book Critical Power Tools to provide an update on the current thinking in the field, and to demonstrate how the modern form of the field has much to teach technical communications practitioners who are willing to listen to what the theoreticians have to say.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. International Journal for Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Reviews>Cultural Theory

24.
#30296

Review: Bridging the Gap between Cultural Studies Theory and the World of the Working Practitioner  (link broken)   (members only)

Cultural studies is an academic field that focuses on understanding the unchallenged assumptions that constrain and shape communication and related interactions among people. Although the field has made considerable progress in the last half-century, many practitioners have either never encountered the field, or have encountered it only through extremist advocates who do the field a great disservice. As a result, they have lost the ability to benefit from the insights provided by cultural studies. In this paper, I review the recent book Critical Power Tools to provide an update on the current thinking in the field, and to demonstrate how the modern form of the field has much to teach technical communications practitioners who are willing to listen to what the theoreticians have to say.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. International Journal for Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Reviews>TC>Cultural Theory

25.
#30392

Building Language Theory   (PDF)

Technical communicators need information about the nature and uses of language. Developing a working theory of language helps technical communicators conceptualize the qualities of good technical writing. Theory development and its application are especially important considering how rapidly technology changes the nature, function, and means of technical communication.

Fink, Bonnie L. and Gary M. Heba. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Language>Theory

 
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