Current Issue

Volume 10 Issue 2 (Fall 2018) 

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From the Editor, Susan L. Popham

Research Articles

Informing Efforts to Increase Diversity: Academic Programs and Student Motivation in Technical and Professional Communication
Chris Dayley and Rebecca Walton

Unlike those of many other fields, academic programs in technical and professional communication lack a unifying name, definition, and location within the academy. This inconsistency can make our programs challenging for prospective students to discover. Unawareness and misconceptions of our field are barriers with implications not only for recruiting students in general but particularly for increasing student diversity—a recognized weakness of technical and professional communication academic programs. In this article, we present findings from an online survey designed to discover why students in technical and professional communication selected their major and implications regarding how the field can use this information to attract a more diverse group of students into our programs. Recommendations from this study include extending research questions about the current state of diversity in technical and professional communication programs, providing better opportunities for students who are members of underrepresented groups to learn about technical and professional communication through outreach to local high schools, developing better recruitment materials, and working with student influencers such as high school teachers and counselors, family members, and college admission offices.

Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Technical Communication: STEM Faculty as Stakeholders in the Technical Communication Service Course
Thomas M. Ballard

This study seeks further understanding of how faculty members from various disciplines view the technical communication service course and its role as part of undergraduate students’ curriculum in their respective fields. The author interviewed five participants from the fields of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Biological and Chemical Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Natural Resources and Ecology Management. The interview transcripts were analyzed qualitatively from a phenomenological perspective. Takeaways regarding specific genres and concepts in technical communication are considered.

Valuing Contra-Professionalization: Analyzing Successful Professionalization Practices in Technical and Professional Communication
Therese I. Pennell, Erin A. Frost, and Guiseppe Getto

This article reports on a study of professionalization practices utilized by recent graduates of programs in technical and professional communication who have attained tenure-track positions in this field. It discusses the professionalization practices of successful job candidates, makes recommendations about professionalization experiences that programs should make available to graduate students, and complicates how professionalization practices differ based on graduate students’ individual identities. Our findings are grounded in contra-professionalization, that is, “initiatives that offer or promote professional services outside of parts of or the entire infrastructure, sometimes circumventing it completely” (Carliner, 2012). We argue that personal identity must be recognized in thinking about professionalization, and therefore contra-professionalization practices (which more effectively deal with identity) will always be an important part of job market preparation. Keywords. contra-professionalization, embodiment

Matching Technical and Professional Communication Students with Internships
Elisabeth Kramer-Simpson

Internships can offer valuable workplace experience to technical communication students, but in order to ensure a learning experience, much attention must be paid to the fit of the student with the internship opportunity. In order to explore in depth these contextual factors, a qualitative, semi-structured interview approach was used to discuss internship coordinating with eight internship coordinators in the US in technical communication or similar programs. The findings indicate that career counseling and confidence-boosting are integral to the process of matching students with internship opportunities. Also, professionalism is an important component of both student preparation and vetting internship opportunities. Finally, contextual factors such as institution location or coordinator experience may impact the internship coordinating.

Book Reviews

Deadly Documents: Technical Communication, Organizational Discourse, and the Holocaust, by Mark Ward, Sr.
Reviewed by Dawn M. Armfield

How the Brain Processes Multimodal Technical Instructions, by Dirk Remley.
Reviewed by Janine Butler

Plain Language and Ethical Action: A dialogical Approach to Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century, by Russell Willerton.
Reviewed by Sherena Huntsman