Month: November 2011

ATTW Letter from the President

Kelli Cargile Cook
Texas Tech University

Spring 2010

The new year and a new decade arrived this January, and, before we know it, our annual conference will be here. This year’s conference will find us in Louisville, the Possibility City. Home to the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs, Louisville is also known for its famous “B’s”: baseball bats, bourbon, professional boxers, and bluegrass. Continue reading “ATTW Letter from the President”

Second Language Students in Technical Writing Classrooms

Meg Morgan
UNC Charlotte

Spring 2010

According to the US Census Current Population Report, the numbers of Hispanic students attending US colleges and universities increased from 443,000 in 1980 to 2,131,000 in 2007.  In addition, in 1980, 286,000 international students enrolled in US colleges and universities; in 2008, over 624,000 enrolled.  These numbers indicate an increasing numbers of students whose first language is not English and suggest, if things stay the same, that second language students will continue to be a significant presence in our classrooms. Continue reading “Second Language Students in Technical Writing Classrooms”

Hazardous Rhetoric

Paul Dombrowski, University of Central Florida, Spring 2009

Rhetoric and ethics are related, Aristotle noted long ago. Our rhetorical choices reflect our values and our purposes. Especially in our activities to engage the public in complex technical issues, appropriate and effective rhetorical choices are vitally important.

In my junior-senior honors course on technical communication, we examine the rhetorical techniques employed in the website of an organization concerned about a particular controversial chemical. This examination ranges broadly to include the web site’s color choices, visuals, formats, and above all language choices and associated rhetorical implications. The results of our analysis are then applied to websites about other chemicals and environmental issues in order to understand how they work both rhetorically and ethically, yielding heightened critical sensitivity in the students. Continue reading “Hazardous Rhetoric”

Ethics in words: The conundrum of nuclear safety

Paul Dombrowski
University of Central Florida
Spring 2011

Nuclear energy is becoming an increasingly important component of the overall national energy picture. In a technical communication course for juniors and seniors, both majors and non-majors, we discuss the ethical challenges of representing nuclear energy realistically and fairly in discourse. We examine how everyday language can become confused, misused, and misunderstood when applied to technical and scientific information. We also discuss how this  difficulty is compounded by the emotional, political, and world-view dimensions of the discourse context.   Continue reading “Ethics in words: The conundrum of nuclear safety”

Writing Across the Northern Border: The Study of Writing and Discourse in Canada

David Beard
University of Minnesota Duluth
Fall 2009

Those of us who work primarily in the United States may not be familiar with the study and teaching of writing in the institutional and scholarly traditions north of the border within the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW).  Its May 2009 meeting in Ottawa, Canada, at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences provided several insights about the perspectives that this group represents.

This essay reviews the interdisciplinary context of the Congress, discusses the unique disciplinary and research contexts of CASDW, and urges greater dialogue across our national borders. Continue reading “Writing Across the Northern Border: The Study of Writing and Discourse in Canada”

Exploring Online Teaching and Learning

Meg Morgan, ATTW Teaching Committee
UNC Charlotte
Fall 2009

I recently read an article in the August 11, 2009 electronic edition of Inside Higher Ed about online teaching written by Jonathan Kaplan, President of Walden University, an online university.  Kaplan summarizes a recent report published by the U.S. Department of Education “that looked at 12 years’ worth of education studies, and found that online learning has clear advantages over face-to-face instruction.”  In his article, Kaplan cites the report which stated: “students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.” Continue reading “Exploring Online Teaching and Learning”

Evaluating Textbooks: A Recommendation Report Assignment for Introductory Technical Communication Courses

Michael J. Albers
East Carolina University
Spring 2009

In many introductory technical communication classes, students may have trouble finding recommendation report topics which lend themselves to a reasonable assignment length. If left to themselves, students tend to come up with variation on the infamous “new parking garage” report that frequently does not fit within 5-7 pages because the problem is too large. With other topics, the nature of collecting and analyzing the information results in a highly artificial environment with students unable to collect enough information to report. As a result, they end up making stuff up. Continue reading “Evaluating Textbooks: A Recommendation Report Assignment for Introductory Technical Communication Courses”