As I reach the end of my time at Minnesota State University, Mankato, I can look back and say that I made the right choice to pursue the Master of Arts, Technical Communication (MATC) degree.
Before my penultimate semester in the program, I pondered whether the graduate technical communication program I chose was the correct option for me. Once again, I want to take some time to reflect on the choices I made, the experiences I’ve gained, and what I’ve learned along the way as I finish my thesis and complete the program.
*** To read the full article, see the Spring 2013 issue of Techniques, pages 1-5, 7.
Last year (2011) I completed a usability study of the MnOnline website (http://www.mnscu.edu/online/index.html) for a project in ENG 674 User Experience at Minnesota State University, Mankato. This was my first foray into both UX/Usability research and writing a quantitative report.
The final document is available to view by opening the PDF from the following link:
Report: Usability testing of the MnOnline website
Report: Webinar Best Practices for Online Learning and Collaboration
Redesigned Help File with graphics and video
Dragga, Sam. 1997. “A Question of Ethics: Lessons from Technical Communicators on the Job.” Technical Communication Quarterly 6 (2): 161–178.
The questions of how useful, desirable, or effective ethics instructions is for professional technical communicators has been visited and revisited for decades. Most of the literature concerning ethics instruction focuses on the analytical perspective rather than on narratives. In this article, Dragga offers a claim based in part on Continue reading
Wilson, Greg, and Julie Dyke Ford. 2003. “The Big Chill: Seven Technical Communications Talk Ten Years After Their Master’s Program.” Technical Communication 50 (2) (May): 145-159.
This “Applied Research” study uses an interactive qualitative method and what the authors define as an “autoethnography” to critically examine the culture of technical communicators. The authors posed questions to stimulate an unstructured conversation on how technical and professional communication (TPC) Master’s programs prepared students for the workplace. The four topics addressed in this survey were Continue reading
Rainey, Kenneth T., Roy K. Turner, and David Dayton. 2005. “Do Curricula Correspond to Managerial Expectations? Core Competencies for Technical Communicators.” Technical Communication 52 (3) (August): 323–352.
This research article uses survey data to analyze the curricula at undergraduate technical and professional communications programs (TPC) and interviews with technical communication managers to evaluate which competencies they desire in workers.
The research takes a broad view and only looks at which competencies (skills or knowledge) programs focus on and which ones managers desire—it does not determine the value of these competencies outside of these two perspectives.
Similar to other research of TPC program curricula, ethical considerations rank in the 50-percentile based on the qualitative content analysis curricula correlated to the surveyed manager expectations. The findings are not representative of all technical communication managers, as noted by Rainey et al. because a large enough random sample could not be found and instead a “sample of convenience” was used to draw some general trends. The top competencies and trends that managers desire from TPC graduates are interpersonal skills and a general knowledge of technology—the ability to learn new technologies is valued more than specific knowledge of technological tools.
Application of research
There are a few ideas that I thought were interesting when applied to my own research. Related to this paper’s methodology, I thought that using a “pre-survey” at the beginning of the survey to gain unbiased results before presenting the managers with a selection to choose from is a good idea. And whereas my research will focus only on ethical considerations, this research did present findings that support my research topic—namely, how approaches to “skill building” versus “depth of cognitive insights” (Rainey, Turner, and Dayton 2005, 323) are important TPC curricula to prepare graduates to understand the impact technology has on people and on their own work.