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.