By Lee Brasseur Department of English, Illinois State University
Infographics seem to be the “in thing” in information design these days, and more technical writing instructors are beginning to include them as assignments in their classes. I first became interested in infographics when I started to see how the genre of graphs and charts had shifted from simplistic representations to ones embellished with graphics (as those originally shown in USA Today). I then saw this trend move to even more complex visual and verbal presentations of quantitative and qualitative information in newspapers, websites, and books.
Infographics were a new kind of genre, offering a more complex, more encapsulated way of understanding quantitative information for a new generation. In this article, I will discuss the genre of infographics, its relationship to both cognitive and contextual theories, and using them as a technical writing assignment. Continue reading “Infographics in Technical Writing and Communication”
Meg Morgan, Department of English
Last March Meg reported on a semester-long group project experiment in her beginning technical writing classes. In Part 2, she finishes her tale with a reflection on the experience after the term.
It is now the end of summer, and I have almost fully recovered from my experiment with the “less work” collaborative model last spring. Overall, I was pleased with some aspects of the course design. Here is a brief summary of what happened and what I learned. Continue reading “Groups, Groups, and More Groups: Using Groups Throughout the Semester (Part two of a two-part series)”
Meg Morgan, Department of English
I have been working with students in collaborative writing groups since the mid-1980s, when as a graduate student at Purdue, I worked with four fellow graduate student colleagues to write a research article on − collaboration. With that experience and many others over the next 35 years or so, I thought I knew everything there was to know about using collaborative writing groups in a technical writing classroom. Was I wrong! This semester I’m learning that you are never too old or too experienced to learn something new or to make some mistakes in the process. Continue reading “Groups, Groups, and More Groups: Using Groups Throughout the Semester (Part one of two)”
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”
University of Central Florida
I teach undergraduate technical communication courses for both majors and non-majors. I recently decided to spice up my non-majors course for interdisciplinary honors students, who range from humanities to natural sciences majors. Continue reading “Rocket 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”
University of Central Florida
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”
Meg Morgan, ATTW Teaching Committee
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”
Michael J. Albers
East Carolina University
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”