Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication


CPTSC members are involved in a number of interesting initiatives that have broadened CPTSC's scope.

Call for Papers


IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication Call for Submissions:
Spring 2015 Special Issue on Content Management

Guest Editors: Rebekka Andersen (University of California, Davis) and
Tatiana Batova (Arizona State University)

Deadline for Submissions: October 31, 2013


The Center for Information Development Management

Call for Research Proposals for Funded Studies

Deadline for Submissions: August 20, 2013

International Interests

CPTSC’s interest in international organizations began in 1999 when Deborah Andrews proposed hosting a CPTSC-sponsored educators’ roundtable in conjunction with the next INTECOM FORUM, scheduled for London in July 2000. Having attended the previous FORUM the year before in Dortmund, Germany, Andrews noted that CPTSC was a member of INTECOM, an umbrella organization for various technical communication organizations, including STC, and that many technical communication educators from around the world attend FORUMs. CPTSC could sponsor a one-day roundtable just prior to the FORUM and attract participants already coming to London.

The London2000 Roundtable, with CPTSC and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW) International Committee as co-sponsors, drew 24 participants from seven nations: China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the years following, several attendees participated in CPTSC annual meetings held in the US. The Roundtable in London was such a success that it became an organizational practice: a one-day Roundtable in Milan, Italy, in 2003, alongside another FORUM; and evening Roundtables in Limerick, Ireland, in 2005; Montréal, Canada, in 2008, and Enschede, the Netherlands, 2010, all scheduled alongside IEEE’s International Professional Communication Conferences. The goals of the Roundtables were to help technical communication educators on different continents exchange ideas and information common on one continent, but in short supply on another.

CPTSC/ATTW International Roundtables

IEEE & IPCC: University of Limerick, Ireland

On 15 July 2015, CPTSC sponsored the sixth in its series of international roundtables for technical communication educators. Organized alongside the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC) held at the University of Limerick in Ireland, this year’s roundtable drew 32 technical communication educators from five countries: Denmark, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, and United States. The roundtable series began in 2000 in London, followed by ones in 2003 in Milan, Italy; 2005 in Limerick, Ireland; 2008 in Montreal, Canada; and 2010 in Enschede, Netherlands. Altogether, the series has attracted participants from 15 nations. Notes from the roundtable can be found here.

IPCC 2010: Enschede

On 6 July 2010, CPTSC, along with the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), sponsored the fifth in its series of international roundtables for technical communication educators. Organized alongside the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC) held at the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, this year’s roundtable drew technical communication educators from four countries, including one never before represented: Uruguay. The other countries represented were Canada, France, and the USA. The roundtable series began in 2000 in London, followed by ones in 2003 in Milan, Italy; 2005 in Limerick, Ireland; and 2008 in Montréal, Canada. Altogether, the series has attracted participants from 15 nations.

The Roundtable featured two presentations by participants from Canada. Saul Carliner from Concordia University in Montréal, Québec, site of the previous Roundtable, presented “Instructional Design and Technical Communication: A Match Made in Heaven or More Like George and Martha?” From farther west, Brian Traynor from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, presented “Information Design @ MRU – Two Years In.”

As is common at CPTSC’s annual meetings, the bulk of the Roundtable was devoted to discussion. The participant from Uruguay, Alina Alvarez, was especially excited to hear about the ways in which academic programs have been designed and developed, as she is now launching a program at the University of Montevideo.

With just six participants, the 2010 Roundtable was by far the smallest held so far. The global economic downturn and cuts in travel budgets clearly affected attendance. However, this Roundtable was also the most enthusiastically received. When asked if the Roundtable fulfilled their needs and was worth offering again in the future, the participants answered with a full-throated “Yes!”

IPCC 2008: Montréal

On 13 July 2008, CPTSC conducted the fourth in its series of international roundtables for technical communication educators. Organized alongside the International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, this year’s roundtable drew 13 technical communication educators from five countries, including two never before represented: Mexico and Switzerland. Canada, Denmark, and the USA were represented as well. The roundtable series began in 2000 in London, followed by ones in 2003 in Milan and 2005 in Limerick. Altogether, the series has attracted participants from 15 nations.

First taking up initiatives growing out of the Limerick2005 Roundtable, participants described the many types of international exchanges that they have established in recent years and discussed how they had succeeded at overcoming inevitable challenges. Most of the meeting, however, focused on a proposal brought forth by Kathryn O’Donnell, of Metropolitan State College in Denver, to establish a CPTSC-sponsored database of international contacts, with an eye to promoting cross-cultural exchanges. In particular, the database could be used to match classes in different countries for collaborative teaching-learning projects.

An enthusiastic discussion brought to light various options for constructing the database and making it available. Consensus was reached that the proposal had merit and the endorsement of this year’s roundtable attendees. Kathryn O’Donnell said that she would be happy to shepherd the proposal onto the CPTSC business agenda for the 2008 meeting in Minneapolis.

The value of a database, the international roundtables, and CPTSC was perhaps best summed up by a participant from the host country. The University of Toronto’s Peter Weiss observed that “Nascent programs like those in Canada need a database and CPTSC to learn how to create minors, then majors and degree programs beyond engineering communication.”

Indeed, this sentiment has been common at all the CPTSC international roundtables, especially among directors of new programs in Europe. As this year’s roundtable drew to a close, Connie Kampf, of Aarhus University, Denmark, gave an enthusiastic invitation for all to come to the 2009 CPTSC conference that she and her colleagues will be hosting.

IPCC 2005: Limerick

CPTSC and the ATTW International Committee keep building on the success of the international roundtable for technical communication educators. Organized at the IPCC Conference in Limerick, Ireland, this year’s roundtable drew 27 technical communication educators from nine countries compared to 18 from six countries at the 2003 roundtable organized in Milan, Italy. This year’s participants came from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the USA.

Building on the successes of the 2000 London Roundtable and the 2003 Milan Roundtable, the Limerick Roundtable discussed new initiatives to support international exchanges among technical communication and to promote technical communication programs in all countries. The 2005 agenda, organized by Jacqui Bleetman from Coventry University (UK) and Debby Andrews from the University of Delaware (USA) focused on three initiatives designed to advance programs internationally: Facilitating program partnerships, supporting international activity in the TC library, and internationalizing CPTSC.

  1. Facilitating program partnerships
    The purpose of this discussion was to facilitate and support partnerships between and among programs, between students as well as faculty. These could include partnerships in which students work across institutions on common projects via the Internet or exchanges of students for a semester or other period between institutions. The idea was also, as a group, to facilitate more interaction of faculty internationally as they join program advisory boards, serve as external evaluators, or prepare joint research proposals, perhaps based on pedagogy and program planning. The CPTSC and ATTW organizations might thus enhance their own international reach through such partnerships. Three universities in the UK, for example, have programs that fit within the broad category of technical communication: Coventry (; Sheffield Hallam (; and Plymouth (

Additional suggestions at the meeting included the following:

  • Compile a list of technical communication programs in different countries with program descriptors
  • Develop a list of specific online courses and programs that allow for exchanges of students and credits. The University of Twente (NL), for example, currently offers an online course on user support (online help design).
  • Team up with “Engineers without Borders” to build program partnerships
  • Continue to organize meetings for educators at international conferences
  • In the case of European programs, attend to the Bologna agreement and the process of European standardization, including the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

For collaboration with European programs, the Bologna process will be particularly important as it changes the structure of European programs and credit systems. Signed by 29 countries in 1999, the Bologna agreement is an action framework for coordinated reforms leading to a “European Space for Higher Education” by 2010 in order to ensure the “global competitiveness” of European higher education. As a part of the agreement, countries are pursuing a number of objectives:

  • Develop a common framework for comparable degree structures in all member countries
  • Institute a division of programs into undergraduate and postgraduate (in North America, graduate) degree programs,
  • Introduce a compatible credit system (ECTS)
  • Develop comparable quality standards
  • Remove obstacles to the free mobility of faculty and students

In a nutshell, European programs are undergoing major restructuring, which will make them more compatible with the structures of programs in North America, so that collaboration should become easier.

  1. Supporting international activity in the TC Library

Geoff Sauer, the coordinator of the Technical Communication library (, had called for more international activity in the TC library. In particular, he had asked for suggestions about indexing categories and for international links, including links to international journals. The goal is to increase the international dimension of the TC Library.

There was much support for international activity in the TC library. The group offered to send links to research resources from different contexts. The group also suggested that a call with details of what specifically was needed would be helpful.

  1. Internationalizing CPTSC

Begun at the 2000 London Roundtable, this discussion explored different ways of infusing a non-U.S. specific perspective into CPTSC.  The key question was how we might best incorporate and serve the needs of programs in all countries and ultimately enhance all our programs.

CPTSC has a lot of valuable history and experience to offer to programs in all locations. To internationalize CPTSC, a number of ideas emerged: For example, one of the early ideas was for different regions to form regional affiliates or chapters in order to provide regional structures that would allow for public funding in different countries and regions (e.g., the EU). Other ideas included organizing CPTSC conferences in different locations other than the United States, for example, in Europe. The challenge here may be that currently more than 90% of CPTSC members reside in the United States. Fewer may therefore be able to travel to conferences on other continents. A third idea was that CPTSC simply continue organizing roundtable meetings for educators at international technical communication conferences. These meetings may also help diversify CPTSC membership.

A number of technical communication conferences are generally attended by the same people, but most can attend only one or two, so it may be difficult for educators to come together internationally to discuss program development. Participants suggested that we might need an alliance of the various conferences that address scientific and technical communication, such as IPCC, ATTW, CPTSC, which may also include conferences of associations in other countries, such as CATTW (Canada). A larger conference could have “braided strains” on particular aspects of scientific and technical communication, including one on program development. This is a discussion that may need to be addressed at the level of the executives of the associations.

Overall, the 2005 Limerick Roundtable continued earlier successes and provided important directions for future initiatives designed to mutually enrich our programs.

Forum 2003: Milano

CPTSC took a major leap forward this summer in meeting the challenges of globalization. Building on the success of its London2000 Roundtable, CPTSC took the lead, with help from the ATTW International Committee, in sponsoring the Milano2003 Roundtable, held on 30 June in conjunction with Forum 2003 in Milan, Italy.

The Roundtable drew 18 technical communication educators from six nations: Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Many stayed on 1-2 July for Forum, Europe's largest gathering of technical communicators. Both the Roundtable and the Forum took place at the Hotel Palazzo delle Stelline, in the heart of Milan, Italy's leading industrial, financial, and fashion design city.

Emerging Trends

The Roundtable's presenters covered a wide range of topics, many of them centering on international collaboration and curriculum and assessment issues. Following the CPTSC conference model, papers were posted ahead of time on the CPTSC website, so that the majority of time during Roundtable sessions could be devoted to discussions.

The discussions proved revealing on several counts:

  1. Technical communication and translation/localization are merging.

Technical communicators and translators in Europe have been educated and trained separately for what have till now been viewed as separate professions. Increasingly, however, they are being cross-trained. Indeed, new programs, such as one being developed by the University of Graz in Austria, are merging the two fields. While this trend is more obvious in Europe, it is beginning to become visible in North America as well. It is no coincidence, for example, that the current president of the Twin Cities STC chapter—one of the largest—is the owner of one of the biggest translation companies in the American Midwest.

  1. The need to cut translation costs is prompting more and more wordless or minimal words instructions.

As a result, technical communicators are doing as much or more with graphic design as with writing. This same pressure to reduce costs is also what lies behind trend 1. While a technical communicator remains a person who can put him or herself in the shoes of the audience, doing so increasingly means becoming a graphic designer, translator, and localization/globalization specialist, as well as writer. Academic programs will need to adjust in response to this trend.

  1. Academic programs in technical communication are increasingly viewing international experience as essential.

Without any prompting, 8 of the 13 presenters at the Roundtable picked paper topics centered on international collaboration. While the details of the papers varied, all presumed the importance of international exposure for students entering technical communication in this century's global economy. All of these presenters spoke about their programs' student or faculty exchanges or plans to institute them. Much of the discussion centered on ways to reconcile European and U.S. evaluation systems, tuition fees, semester schedules, and the like.

  1. While some nations are experiencing retrenchment in academic programs, others are experiencing growth.

Between the London2000 and Milano2003 roundtables, the economic climate changed drastically, from exuberant optimism and growth to anxiety and job losses. (See "Roundtable keynote" at <>.) In the United Kingdom, this factor and others have led to the paring down of technical communication programs to just one bachelor's program at Coventry University and just one master's program at Sheffield Hallam University. In contrast, during the last three years new programs have started at the University of Graz in Austria, the University of Paris 7 in France, and Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the United States. (There are no doubt others, but these were the ones represented at the Roundtable.)

European Membership

The European members of CPTSC took time during the lunch break to meet with CPTSC's president to discuss ways they might organize themselves. A consensus arose to participate to the extent possible in CPTSC and ATTW activities held in North America but with the goal of establishing a branch of CPTSC and /or ATTW in Europe within the next few years. Many persons present said that there was value in tapping into the experience and structure that CPTSC and ATTW provide. Michael Steehouder (University of Twente, Netherlands) noted that funds are available from the European Union to help coordinate activities between EU member countries, including activities involving tech comm education, but such funds could be distributed only to an organization based in Europe. Establishing CPTSC and/or ATTW chapter(s) in Europe would likely meet such a requirement.
Two European representatives, Charlotte Kaempf (University of Karlsruhe, Germany) and Lucy Veisblat (University of Paris 7, France), expressed interest in attending this year's annual CPTSC conference. Several others said they hope to do so in 2004.

Forum 2000 London

CPTSC took a significant step toward internationalizing its efforts this summer when 24 technical communicators representing seven nations met in England for the London2000 Roundtable. Many also participated immediately afterward in FORUM 2000, Europe's largest gathering of technical communicators.

The ATTW International Committee joined with CPTSC to co-sponsor the Roundtable. Its goal was to bring together instructors of technical communication in Europe and beyond with their counterparts in North America. It did so roundly. European and Asian participants brought lots of questions about how to build their nascent technical communication programs. In turn, U.S. participants asked their counterparts how to address the international concerns that many are now facing for the first time.
The Roundtable took place on 10 June 2000 at the University of Delaware's London Centre, right next door to Charles Dickens's house. Many participants took the opportunity to tour the house, now a museum highlighting the author's life, in London's eclectic Bloomsbury neighborhood. After a full day of sessions (see the slate, below), participants rounded the corner to The Lamb, a well-known Bloomsbury pub. There, new acquaintances were reinforced and joint projects planned over a pint.
FORUM 2000 followed on 12-14 June 2000 in the Commonwealth Institute located in London's Kensington neighborhood. It drew approximately 350 technical communicators, the majority from industry and representing 27 nations. Deborah Bosley and Nancy O'Rourke represented ATTW and CPTSC at the Forum's Idea Market, an interactive poster session. The presentation, titled "What Kind of Education Do Technical Communicators Need?," featured program literature from many  ATTW members' universities. Deborah and Nancy would like to thank all who sent them materials and data about their programs.

The Forum closed with an international panel of some of technical communication's best thinkers. ATTW was represented by Rebecca Burnett, USA, and Ron Blicq, Canada, who also served as one of Forum's organizers.


Technical Communication Programs in an International Context

10 June 2000

Opening remarks, Gerry Gentle, ISTC and FORUM 2000 chair, UK

Deborah Bosley, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, USA
"How Strategies from Writing in the Professions Can Contribute to Writing-across-the-Curriculum Programs"

Rebecca Burnett, Iowa State University, USA
"Developing a Communication-across-the-Curriculum Program"

Peter Kastberg, Aarhus School of Business, Denmark
"Technical Writing: Developing a Concept for a New University Curriculum"

Gwendolyn Gong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, PRC
"Barriers to Opportunity: Why Programs in Technbical and Scientific Communication Aren't Developing in Hong Kong Universities"

Gerald Alred, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
"Developing Certificate Programs in International Technical Communication"

Thea van der Geest, University of Twente, the Netherlands
"Accreditation of Technical Communication Minors"

Dan Riordan, University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA
"Can We Use Web Portfolios to Facilitate International Collaboration Among Our Students?"

Nancy Allen, Eastern Michigan University, USA, & Linda Baker, Kodak Pathe Europe
"Training and Translation Hand in Hand"

Bruce Maylath, University of Wisconsin-Stout, USA
"Setting Up International Exchanges Between Students in Europe and the U.S."


Lili Fox-Velez, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
"Border Crossings: Educating Medical Writers with International Backgrounds"

Diane Atkinson & Joanne Lax, Purdue University, Indiana, USA
"Communications Programs for Technical Professionals in Engineering"

Charlotte Kaempf, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, & Carolyn Rude, Texas Technological University, USA
"Training Engineering Graduates as Efficient Managers of Environmental Resources"


Deborah Andrews, University of Delaware, USA (Roundtable co-chair)

Jaqui Bleetman, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, UK

Dennis Clarke, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, UK

Carrie Estill, University of Paris, France                                                                 
Thomas Long, Thomas Nelson Community College, Virginia, USA

Nancy M. O’Rourke, Utah State University, USA

Kenneth T. Rainey, Southern Polytechnic State University, Georgia, USA

Alexander von Obert, Freelance technical writer, Nuernberg, Germany


CPTSC international roundtables and nations represented:






All roundtables compiled

Program Assessment Bibliography

Program Assessment Bibliography

This annotated bibliography is organized into various thematic sections and sub-sections associated with program assessment.  This bibliography is not meant to be a comprehensive document on the overall subject of program assessment.  Rather, it should be viewed as a starting point for examining this topic.

Submissions to Bibliography

Users are invited to contribute new annotations to add to this bibliography. Send annotations to Kirk St. Amant.

Compiled by

Kirk St. Amant
Peter England
James Johnston
Vanessa Killgore
Natalie Richardson
Daniel Siepert


Benefits & Purpose

Allen, J. (2004). The impact of student learning outcomes assessment on technical and professional communication programs. Technical Communication Quarterly, 13(1), 93–108.

Describes the processes of program assessment based on pedagogical goals. Qualities of good assessment. Clarifying programmatic context and using rubrics and matrices to evaluate student writing. Opportunities and choices that will make the technical communication faculty’s experience more meaningful and manageable. How larger academic technical communication programs can benefit from such work and how assessment helps programs meet professional expectations.

De Valenzuela, J. S., Copeland, S. R., & Blalock, G. A. (2008). Unfulfilled expectations: Faculty participation and voice in a university program evaluation. Teachers College Record, 107(10), 2227–2247.

Qualitative case study of “faculty perceptions of the purposes, cost, and benefits of program evaluation” at a large public research university. Importance and benefits of stakeholder (teacher/faculty) participation and voice in assessment. Themes from faculty interviews: prior assumptions, contested purposes, and outcomes of unfulfilled expectations. Faculty assumed assessment would be a vehicle for their voice towards positive change, but were disappointed to find assessment a mere formality.

Hayhoe, G. F. (2007). Why should program assessment matter to practitioners? Technical Communication, 54(4), 407–408.

Importance of assessment and accreditation in producing better teachers and curricula and in training effective graduates for the workforce. Example overview of engineering accreditation programs.

Herrington, T. K. (2003). Intertwining structures of assessment and support: Assessing programs—Advancing the profession. In proceedings from CPTSC ’03: 30th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Lessons learned from author’s experience as an external assessor for San Francisco State University’s technical communication program.

Hovde, M. R. (2000). Assessing existing engineering communication programs: Lessons learned from a pilot study. In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Lessons learned from author’s experience spearheading the pilot year of assessment of students’ engineering communication skills.

Munger, R. H. (2000). Untangling a jigsaw puzzle: The place for assessment in program development. In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Goal of CPTSC’s self-study and program review is to develop stronger programs, not to rank existing programs.

St. Amant, K. S., & Nahrwold, C. (2007). Acknowledging complexity: Rethinking program review and assessment in technical communication. Technical Communication, 54(4), 409–411.

Considers the nature of academic program review and assessment in technical communication. Examines the themes represented in the articles published in [Technical Communication, volume 54, issue 4].



Allen, J. (1993). The role(s) of assessment in technical communication: A review of the literature. Technical Communication Quarterly, 2(4), 365–388.

Outlines what issues, assumptions, and ensuing questions should be addressed in a thorough program assessment.

Eaton, J. S. (2008, July/August). Attending to student learning. Change, 40(4), 22–27.

Award criteria and process of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Award for Institutional Progress in Student Learning Outcomes. Its focus on student achievement and accountability. Characteristics of outstanding progress in documenting learning: strong faculty leadership, attention to general education, preference for institutionally based strategies and instruments, focus on department and schools, and a valuable role for accreditation.

Rainey, K. T., Turner, R. K., & Dayton, D. (2005). Do curricula correspond to managerial expectations? Core competencies for technical communicators. Technical Communication, 52(2), 323–352.

Survey and interviews with 67 technical managers reveal sought after competencies and compare them to those stressed by the 10 largest undergraduate technical communication programs. Most important competencies: collaboration with subject matter experts and coworkers, ability to analyze user needs, ability to assess and learn technologies, initiative, and self-evaluation. Recommendations for programs, emerging trends, and future roles of technical communicators.

Models and Methods


Coppola, N. W. (1999). Setting the discourse community: Tasks and assessment for the new technical communication service course. Technical Communication Quarterly, 8(3), 249–267.

Argues for a social perspective of technical communication service courses based on several premises, including the need for accountability and the value of portfolio assessment. Based on a case study that demonstrates reliability, stability, and validity in assessment, tasks, and instructor community. Stresses the effectiveness of portfolios as assessment tools.

Scott, C., & Plumb, C. (1999). Using portfolios to evaluate service courses as part of an engineering writing program. Technical Communication Quarterly, 8(3), 337–350.

The University of Washington’s Portfolio Evaluation Project (PEP) is used to “inform and reform curriculum.” Inadequacy of multiple choice testing and timed writing samples as evaluation tools. PEP design and methods. Results: performance-based outcomes, assessment criteria, and curriculum and instruction change.

Thomas, S., & McShane, B. J. (2007). Skills and literacies for the 21st century: Assessing an undergraduate professional and technical writing program. Technical Communication, 54(4), 412–423.

Describes an assessment process for professional and technical writing at Weber State University. Includes a review of the literature, outcomes for each course, and a rubric to evaluate student portfolios in the capstone course.”

Williams, J. M. (2001). The engineering communication portfolio: Writing, reflection, and technical communication assessment. In proceedings from IPCC ’01: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (pp. 341–347). Available from

Portfolio review is an effective and advantageous method for gathering data on students’ communication abilities. Defining good communication. Difference between individual assessment and program assessment and how portfolios provide information for both. Principles of portfolio administration: design/format, set up, objectives, evaluation rubrics. Explaining objectives to students. Making the process efficient.


Beidler, J. (2002). Assessment: An alumni survey. In proceedings from FIE ’02: 32nd Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 2, pp. F1B/22). Retrieved from

Assessment input comes from graduating seniors, alumni, and hiring organizations. An overview of a Web-based alumni survey composed of four parts: education analysis, programming language support, software concepts, and personal data.

Jobst, J. W. (1997). College curriculum and the assessment of recent graduates. In proceedings from STC ’97: Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. Retrieved from

Steps of assessment to determine students’ preparedness for industry. Expected learning outcomes at Michigan Technical University. Evaluation determined through graduate survey and focus groups. Learn what skills are used and where they were learned.

McGourty, J., Besterfield-Sacre, M., Shuman, L. J., & Wolfe, H. (1999). Improving academic programs by capitalizing on alumni’s perceptions and experiences. In proceedings from FIE ’99: 29th Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 3, pp. 13a5/9–13a5/15). Retrieved from

Alumni surveys at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburg. How surveys can be developed, the cost involved, information that can be obtained, and how they can be used as part of the ABET Engineering Criteria 2000 process.


Liang, Z. (2003). Using co-op reviews as an assessment tool. In proceedings from FIE ’03: 33rd Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 1, pp. T3B/31). Available from http://ieeexplore/

Discusses co-op visit and review procedure, its benefits, its methods, an example result, and a planned improvement of this method.

Rehling, L. (2003). Thank you, thank you! Or: How external reviewers help out. In proceedings of CPTSC ’03: 30th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Conversations about assessment for technical communication programs often focus on evaluating features internally, through means such as course evaluations and portfolio reviews.

Sides, C. H. (2007). First-person perspective: An analysis of informal and formal external program review strategies. Technical Communication, 54(4), 440–446.

Describes how ethics can be combined with use-inspired research to provide a foundation for external program reviews. Considers setting goals, selecting and preparing reviewers, conducting the reviews, and producing deliverables.

Other Models

Anderson, P. V. (1995). Evaluating academic technical communication programs: New stakeholders, diverse goals. Technical Communication, 42(4), 628–633.

Describes an approach to evaluation specially suited to technical communication programs. Discusses three “substantial challenges” to technical communication assessment.

Battle, M. V. (1993). Evaluation of training programs in technical communication. In proceedings from SCT ’93: Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. Retrieved from

The efficient production needs of executives and administrators. The CIPP-model of training program review, with examples. The benefits of professional evaluators and their ability to “lift the level of communication skills, the morale of the students and faculty, and the organization’s products.”

Carnegie, T. A. M. (2007). Integrating context into assessing US technical communication programs. Technical Communication, 54(4), 447–458.

Reviews the primary purposes for program reviews. Proposes the creation of a contextual program review model.

Coppola, N. W., & Elliott, N. (2003). A behavioral framework for assessing graduate technical communication programs. In proceedings from CPTSC ’03: 30th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Behavioral science emphasizes association, reliability, and validity. Proposed model based on five independent variables “may be associated with effective programs in technical and scientific communication.”

Coppola, N. W., & Elliot, N. (2007). A technology transfer model for program assessment in technical communication. Technical Communication, 54(4), 459–474.

Offers a program assessment framework, centered on student performance, that has proven effective in establishing and assessing core competencies. Proposes a technology transfer model for the diffusion of program assessment knowledge.

O’Rourke, N. (2000). The thorny issue of program assessment: One model for one program. In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Controversial issue of assessment is vital. Need for plans and data gathering. Need for formal documentation. ABET as an example.

Shor, M. H., & Robson, R. (2000). A student-centered feedback control model of the educational process. In proceedings from FIE ’00: 30th Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 2, pp. S1A/14–S1A/19). Retrieved from

Compares two models of continuous improvement process: program-centered statistics and student-centered continuous feedback. The latter is more difficult to implement, but more likely to achieve desired learning outcomes. Implications for classroom and program practices. View the student, not the program, as the process. Measure performance as the student progresses through the program. Also, pitfalls of student-centered model.

Technology and Assessment

Baskin, P. (2008, April 18). Electronic portfolios may answer calls for more accountability. Chronicle of Higher Education, 54(32), A30–A31.

The advantages of using electronic compilations of student work to directly score specific skills and to evaluate the teaching program. Rose-Hulman as an early adopter of e-portfolios, federal pressure, practical uses, and the use of e-portfolios in other colleges.

DePiero, F. (2001). NetExam: A Web-based assessment tool for ABET2000. In proceedings from FIE ’01: 31st Annual Frontiers in Education (Vol. 2, pp. F3A/13). Retrieved from

Advantages of NetExam over scantron testing: Statistics available online and easy review/comment capabilities. Exams generated on demand from a dynamic question database, which could include student-posed questions. Beta testing began in 2001.

Reece, G. A. (2002). Integrating technology into program assessment implementation and course design: "How can relational, problem-solving models help us reach our goals?" In proceedings from IPCC ’02: IEEE International Professional Communications Conference (pp. 166–184). Available from

Strategies for integrating technology into course design and program assessment. Background of technology-based learning and teaching. Role of problem-based learning. Demonstration of new electronic relational system for tracking six assessment components: (1) assessment plan; (2) assessment activities; (3) course goals, contributions, and professional outcomes; (4) scoring rubrics; (5) process charts; and (6) survey information.

Sears, M., Campbell, K., & Whiteclaw, C. (2002). Faculty reward and promotion in distributed learning environments—Pedagogy in implementation. In proceedings from ICCE ’02: International Conference on Computers in Education (Vol. 2, pp. 1354–1355). Available from

Need for established criteria to recognize technology-based instruction. Use of technology increases demands on instructors. Inherent difficulty and lack of consensus in defining good instruction. Peer Review of Instructional Technology Initiatives (PRITI) provides process and model for faculty reward and promotion in distance learning environments.

ABET Engineering Accreditation

Davis, M. T., Olsen, L., & Haselkom, M. P. (1998). Proposal to support ABET accreditation for technical communication programs. Mercer University.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Accreditation recommends that the IEEE Professional Communication Society act as the sponsoring cognizant technical society to present technical communication program criteria to the Related Accreditation Commission (RAC) of Accreditation Body for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This report contains the background documentation for this recommendation.

Haselkorn, M., Davis, M. T., Goodman, M. B., & Nolen, B. E. (1998). Seeking ABET accreditation for technical communication programs. In proceedings from IPCC ’98: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (Vol. 2, pp. 195–196). Available from

Progress on issues of accreditation under ABET. Discusses accreditation standards, description of criteria, and how sample programs could meet the criteria. Benefits of accreditation for programs, graduates, industries, and the profession.

Williams, J. M. (2001). Transformations in technical communication pedagogy: Engineering, writing, and the ABET engineering criteria 2000. Technical Communication Quarterly, 10(2), 149–167.

Evaluates the immediate and long-term effects of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Criteria (EC) 2000. How ABET affects technical communication and how technical communication faculty is responding. More and better-integrated, cross-disciplinary communication courses for engineering students. Difficulty identifying effective assessment methods has resulted in experimentation with portfolios and cross-department grading. Curriculum reforms that stress the connection between education and work.

Williams, J. M. (2002). Technical communication, engineering, and ABET’s engineering criteria 2000: What lies ahead? Technical Communication, 49(1), 89–95.

The increasing need for engineering communication and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Criteria (EC) 2000. Considerations for unified objective development and mapping. Technical communication’s role in addressing this need.

Integration of Academia and Industry

Dakich, M. (1988). Improving communication training for engineers. In proceedings from IPCC ’88: On the Edge: A Pacific Rim Conference on Professional Technical Communication (pp. 273–276). Available from arnumber=24049&isnumber=908

Recaps assessment of communication training needs of engineers. Suggested methods of improve­ment include “analysis of current offerings, coordination of in-house training with colleges, extension of college services to the industrial site, attendance of professional conferences, establishment of a forum between colleges and the community, and internship programs in technical communications.”

Feinberg, S. G. (2000). Should academic programs in technical communication try to strengthen the bond between academia and industry? In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Some issues present in both academia and industry: visualization of data, usability testing, design of instructional material for the Web, research. Problems and questions of industry collaboration: who states the problem, who manages the project, what resources are available, and who owns the results?

Kim, L., & Tolley, C. (2004). Fitting academic programs to workplace marketability: Career paths of five technical communicators. Technical Communication, 51(3), 376–386.

Interviews with five graduates of the University of Memphis master’s in technical communication program. Interviewees’ career paths and skills used on a daily basis. Comparison with current issues facing technical communication programs, such as a rapidly changing field and whether or not to teach tech­nological competencies.

Krestas, S. A. (1995). Future directions for continuing education in technical communication. Technical Communication, 42(4), 642–645.

Abstract: Integrating academic institutions with practical experience and industry professionals is key to success of technical communication programs.

Program Development and Planning

Allen, J. (2000). Compact planning and program development: A new planning model for growing technical communication programs. In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Compact planning—a narrowly focused, resource-driven planning model—helps programs identify and reach short-term goals. The value of short-term goals given the rapidly changing field and technology. Programs need to “remain nimble, competitive, and distinctive.” Compact planning’s inclusionary, grassroots process benefits program and department levels.

Moore, M. R. (2000). Participatory design and technical communication: Challenges and opportunities in programmatic assessment and evaluation. In proceedings from CPTSC ’00: 27th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Technical Communication pedagogies that are informed by theories of Participatory Design offer new challenges and opportunities for both the assessment of student work and group projects, and in the evaluation of programmatic goals.

Tillery, D. (2003). Re-creating a PhD: From technical to professional writing. In proceedings of CPTSC ’03: 30th Annual Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication.

Reshaping curriculum to prepare students, foster PhD professional development, capitalize on program strengths, balance theory and practice, maintain legitimacy, and provide opportunities for intradisciplinary research.

Zimmerman, D. E., & Long, M. (1993). Exploring the technical communicator's roles: Implications for program design. Technical Communication Quarterly, 2(3), 301–318.

Suggested guidelines and implications for program development in technical communication based on professional roles and demographic data of technical communicators.


Kunz, L. D. (1995). Learning and success in technical communication education. Technical Communication, 42(4), 573–575.

Success of technical communication programs depends on the success of the graduates. Graduates’ success depends on the students’ commitment to lifetime learning.


u are looking for something and are unable to find it, feel free to contact Tracy Bridgeford.


Outcomes Assessment Project

This year the CPTSC Program Assessment and Review Committee undertook a survey into the nature of program outcomes in our field. The purpose of the survey was to collect outcomes from technicl and scientific communication programs and analyze them for content and use. The following page indicates some of our responses.

2011 Report

We welcome your suggestions and comments at the following public form:

Ongoing activities involve extending the survey to more programs and setting up an outcomes registry website.

Outcomes Committee:

Research Assessment Project

Created under a 2006 research grant from our host organization, the purpose of CPTSC Assessment is to provide a web-based forum for assessment research in order to foster collaboration and active exchange between multiple institutions. This project supports contemporary assessment research that takes us from static reviews welded on performance indicators to new environments fostering student learning. With shared research methods and collective practitioner knowledge, CPTSC Assessment promises to provide a resource library that showcases our progressive understanding of ways to design valid assessment processes.

Read the CFP here.

SLOT C Database
(Service Learning Opportunities in Technical Communication Database)
Research shows that nonprofit organizations—particularly small, local, underfunded organizations—fail to promote and accomplish their missions when they lack effective communications. Research also shows that students grow not only academically and professionally but also as good citizens of their local communities when they tackle real nonprofit projects and thus help nonprofits fulfill community needs.

The SLOT-C Database (Service Learning Opportunities in Technical Communication Database) helps prepare college students to work as professional communicators (e.g., technical writers, marketing professionals, graphic designers) by giving them access to real-world projects such as writing technical documentation, creating marketing materials, and designing websites and graphics. Specifically, the SLOT-C connects university instructors who are looking for service-learning opportunities for their upper-division and graduate communication courses to nonprofit organizations that need help with communication projects such as websites, brochures, and user guides.

Diversity and Social Justice

Welcome to the Diversity and Social Justice in Technical Communication Network. Hosted by the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC) and established by CPTSC's Diversity Committee, the network is designed as a forum for scholars in technical communication and related fields to communicate and collaborate about issues of diversity and social justice that impact our discipline. Ideally, this network will bring together critical discussions about various types of scholarship, with themes that include (but are not limited to) quantitative and qualitative research, pedagogy, community-based projects, and literature reviews. Moreover, the aim of this network is to provide support for one another's research and teaching, foster potential collaborations for projects, promote collective brainstorming, and to increase mutual encouragement to help each of us remember we are not alone in imagining more socially just and more diverse voices in the teaching and practice of technical communication.

Join Listserv



Diversity Activity (Susan Youngblood)

Diversity Syllabus (Jessica Edwards)


Diversity Scholarship Winners

2008, Roxanne Gay, Michigan Tech

2009, None awarded

2010, Janie Santoy, Texas Tech doctoral candidate at the time.
Conference presentation title: "Applying Technical Communication Theory to Design Training for Faculty New to Online Education"

2011, Joseph Dawson, East Caroline University

2012, Flourice Richardson, Illinois State University
Conference presentation title: "Black Feminist Thought: Tools for Dismantling Hegemonic Notions of Power"

2013, Therese Pennell, East Carolina University
Conference presentation title: "The GATS and Higher Education: How Will Globalization Affect Us?"