A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Across the Great Divide: Embedding Technical Communication into an Engineering Curriculum

The University of Maine has begun a multi-year effort to redesign the way it teaches technical communication to students in the College of Engineering. At its core, this new design will mean replacing the existing requirement of a stand alone course in technical communication.

Adams, David. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Engineering


An Alternative to a Master's Program   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Discussions concerning the structure of technical communication programs raise a multitude of questions: how do we include both theory and practice? How much theory is appropriate for a program in an applied area? What do our students need and want? How can we meet our students’ needs and ourown academic goals? These questions can become even more intense when they relate to master’s degree programs and the demanding students they attract. We are faced with decisions about what thenature of a master’s program in technical communication should be.

Allen, Nancy J. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Graduate


Assessing Existing Engineering Communication Programs: Lessons Learned from a Pilot Study   (peer-reviewed)

Increased support for greater accountability and assessment of engineering communication programs have led many schools of engineering and technology to initiate methods of assessing the quality of their students’ engineering communication abilities. In my institution, I have spearheaded the pilot year of such a program, and, as anticipated, have learned several valuable lessons that may be of interest to others interested in developing assessment procedures for engineering communication programs.

Rush Hovde, Marjorie. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>Engineering>Assessment


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


Bringing Practitioners into Programs

Four presentations about how to connect academic programs with workplace practitioners in technical communication.

Barker, Thomas, David Dayton, Elizabeth O. (Betsy) Smith and Tracy Bridgeford. CPTSC (2005). Presentations>Education>Collaboration>Workplace


Can Academic Partnerships in Technical Communication Work?: Lessons from Minnesota   (peer-reviewed)

Interuniversity partnerships are widely encouraged as a way for public universities to pool increasingly scarce resources, to minimize duplication of academic programs, and to cooperate rather than compete. Joint programs in technical communication have not been widely studied, but they seem especially logical for several reasons.

Black, Suzanne. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Management>Collaboration


Challenges and Solutions for Program Administrators

A discussion of challenges and solutions for hiring professional and technical communication specialists at teaching-focused universities.

Adkins, Kaye, Molly Johnson and Bruce Maylath. CPTSC (2005). Presentations>Education>Recruiting>Interviewing


Collaborating with Student Interns and Graduates in Research that Contributes to the Development of Programs in Technical Communication   (peer-reviewed)

In what significant and distinctive ways is writing enmeshed in the professional sites our students will enter after graduation (or earlier, if they work as interns in such sites prior to graduation)? How can we distinguish between general, transportable aspects of writing expertise that can be developed in school and later applied effectively in a range of different workplaces and other, local aspects of writing expertise that are specific to particular professional environments and can only be acquired through on-site experience once there?

Smart, Graham. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Articles>Education>Workplace


Collaborative Invention Among Experts in an Interdisciplinary Context: The Creation of Written Discourse for Countermeasures to Biological and Chemical Threats   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Programs in technical and scientific communication educate students from multiple disciplines. As we teach these students from various fields, we often assume they will write to others who are members of the same field. However, professionals commonly communicate across disciplinary boundaries and collaborate with those who do not necessarily belong to their field. We should rethink our approaches in teaching scientific and technical communication to consider how different peoplefrom different areas of expertise engage one another in a communication situation. Based on the understanding that different disciplinary cultures and languages alter contexts for communication, astudy examining how experts from science, engineering, mathematics, and architecture come together as a single group and collaboratively invent discourse can contribute to new knowledge to inform curriculum development.

Gooch, John C. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Risk Communication>Collaboration


Compact Planning and Program Development: A New Planning Model for Growing Technical Communication Programs   (peer-reviewed)

While most academics are familiar with strategic planning (at least at a broad institutional level), many may be unfamiliar with the process of compact planning--a more narrowly focused, resource-driven planning model that can help programs identify and reach short-term goals. Because of the technological components of technical communication programs and the rapidity with which those components change and, consequently, affect our programs, shorter-term planning models may be particularly useful in helping our programs remain nimble, competitive, and distinctive. Further, since the compact planning process is a grass-roots initiative (rather than a top-down planning model), it is particularly effective at the program and department levels for its inclusionary properties.

Allen, Jo. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>TC


Corralling Disciplinary Dogies: Adjusting Fences for Prudent Technical Communication Program Expansion   (peer-reviewed)

The particular concern facing my institution of affiliation (U Houston-Downtown) is how to maintain prudent Technical Communication (TC) program expansion in the face of rapid growth, high demand, and scarce resources.

Hundleby, Margaret N. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>TC


The Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication

The Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC) has five goals: promote programs in technical and scientific communication, promote research in technical and scientific communication, develop opportunities for the exchange of ideas and information concerning programs, research, and career opportunities, assist in the development and evaluation of new programs in technical and scientific communication, if requested, and promote exchange of information between this organization and interested parties.

CPTSC Proceedings. Organizations>Education>TC


Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication   (peer-reviewed)

This site contains a variety of information relating to the function, activities, and history of the CPTSC.

CPTSC. Academic>Conferences


Creating Communication Modules for an Engineering Enterprise Initiative: Programmatic and Rhetorical Considerations   (peer-reviewed)

Our discussion will consider the ways in which we conceptualized an engineering enterprise initiative’s 'communication component,' alternate ways in which it could be conceptualized, and our efforts to maintain pedagogical and programmatic integrity while addressing the very practical needs of this ABET-driven curricula change. We feel that these questions must be addressed if we are to truly participate in a 'systemic change' in engineering education and its integral communication challenges.

Aller, Betsy and M. Sean Clancey. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>Assessment>Engineering


Crossing Institutional and Programmatic Identity Boundaries: The Possibilities of an Online Graduate Consortium   (peer-reviewed)

Should institutional boundaries prevent online students from learning from the best professors available? What is the effect of employing remote professors on a program's identity, and how do remote or distant professors fit into a faculty's programmatic and pedagogical profile?

Cargile Cook, Kelli. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Online


Crossing the Boundaries of Instruction: Assessing Web-Based Courses

We recently conducted survey research to discover students' responses to our web-based courses and online programs. We wanted to know their reactions to the course materials, teaching methods, interactions with faculty and other students, as well as their own competence in the particular subject area following such as course. While we are discovering that students are generally satisfied with all aspects of the courses, they express valid and noteworthy concerns.

Tovey, Janice and Michelle F. Eble. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Assessment>Online


(Deeply) Resisting Arrest: Beyond the Either/Or of Information Technology in Technical & Scientific Communication Programs   (peer-reviewed)

If I choose to walk or ride a bicycle to work in the morning, will I be perceived as an anti-technology Luddite because I have resisted driving my car? Probably not. In fact, I might be seen as someone who is environmentally aware and health conscious. When it comes to information technology, however, such resistance is seen quite differently.

Johnson, Robert R. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>Technology


Designing Institutional Space to Bridge Institutional Divides   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Professional/technical writing has long been an effective curricular site for off-campus outreach. Especially compared to other humanities' disciplines (not that that category provides any stiff competition), professional/technical writing has emphasized practical application and liaison between the university and business/industry. Two of the chief reasons I am attracted to this field are its pragmatic orientation and its focus on writing-in-the-world.

Porter, James E. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Business Communication


Directing Growth and Growing Directors: Developing Leaders for Technical Communication Programs   (peer-reviewed)

Designing and directing technical communication programs requires special skills. Clearly faculty taking on these roles must be well-versed in the scholarship of the discipline. But they face additional challenges not often faced by other department chairs or program directors, especially those in liberal arts disciplines. Here’s a brief overview of some of these challenges.

Hansen, Craig. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>WPA


Disciplinary Boundaries: Where (and How) Should Usability Testing Be Taught?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

With the rapid rise of interest in usability testing, especially with the demise of a daily increasing number of dotcom companies (and the headlines resulting from the 'butterfly ballot'), the question arises as to where (and how) a course in usability testing should be taught. When I first started teaching a graduate course in technical and professional communication, I created it to focus on documentation issues and to educate future technical communicators about the role they could play in testing and inadvocating usability testing for their products. The argument went something like this: who better than the technical communicators--the user advocates–to initiate usability testing within organizations. What better place to start than with the documentation?

Barnum, Carol M. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Usability


Do Technical Writers Need a Help Applications Course?   (peer-reviewed)

Weber State University is in the process of developing a major in Professional & Technical Writing (PTW). Currently, students enroll as English majors with an Emphasis in PTW, which consists of four courses in PTW that students take in addition to other English courses. The minor consists of the same PTW courses plus two interdisciplinary classes, which are determined in consultation with an advisor. The problem is that students who wish to do PTW must take the same number of literature classes as other English majors. Often they do not receive instruction in document design, other than a cursory treatment in the service course. A full major would better prepare students to enter the job market without losing connections to critical theory and humanistic approaches to texts-connections they receive in English Department courses.

McShane, Becky Jo. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Documentation>Help


Do We Know Who We Are and Where We Belong? Challenge in the Midst of Change   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Over the past few years, we have been re-thinking the focus and direction of the graduate program in technical and science communication at Drexel University. At the same time, we are also dealing with a disciplinary change, as we have split from our long-time home in the Department of Humanities and Communication and formed a new Department of Culture and Communication with our colleagues from sociology and anthropology.

Friedlander, Alexander. CPTSC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Graduate


The Dual Mission of the Community College and Implications for Technical Writing Instruction   (peer-reviewed)

Technical writing education in the community college is complicated by the need to serve multiple populations, including traditional college students, vocational/certificate students, and community businesses. At Heartland Community College (HCC), the Corporate Education Department serves the needs of businesses by providing workshops of varying lengths and content areas. At the same time, the Writing Program and the English Department serve the needs of traditional and vocational students through writing courses in composition, technical writing, and business writing. Since each department espouses different philosophies and is addressing the needs of a different audience, technical writing instruction varies across the College. Rarely does one course design affect the other, yet I believe that conversations between departments could help the College resolve some of the contradictions that accompany its dual mission.

Kratz, Stephanie. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


Electronic Support Systems for Technical Communication Teachers   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

This presentation provided a rationale for electronic support systems and an overview of how such systems can be designed to meet the needs of technical communication teachers and programs.

Selber, Stuart A. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Education>Online>EPSS


Embracing Digital Media in Engineering   (peer-reviewed)

New models for program development in technical and scientific communication are imperative. Demand for communicative expertise continues to expand rapidly yet traditional approaches for supporting student competence fall far short of expectations.

Atkinson, Dianne. CPTSC Proceedings (2000). Academic>Education>Engineering



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