Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication

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Programmatic Perspectives publishes articles related to programmatic issues related to technical communication. ISSN 2326-1412


Programmatic Perspectives is currently in an editorial transition period and is not accepting submissions at this time (January through May 2015).

Current Issue

Volume 7 Issue 1 (Spring 2015)

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From the Editors

Issue Preview

Tracy Bridgeford, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Kirk St. Amant, East Carolina University

This issue preview welcomes the community to Programmatic Perspectives. The editors preview articles and invite the community action. Volume 7.1 contains special commentary on a recurring theme in this issue: diversity in technical communication programs.



Teaching Technical, Scientific, or Professional Communication at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Natalia Matveeva, University of Houston-Downtown

Abstract. This article presents the results of the investigation into available technical, scientific, or professional communication programs at Hispanic-Serving institutions (HSIs) in the United States. By identifying existing programs and examining their course offerings, the author explores various peculiarities of teaching technical, scientific, or professional communication in such institutions. The knowledge of such programmatic adaptations can be useful to admin­istrators and educators who aim to increase the competitiveness of their programs and better prepare students for the rapidly changing job market. Based on available scholarship dedicated to diversity issues and pedagogical practices, the author also suggests strategies for those who plan to teach technical communication courses at HSIs and institutions with a multicultural and multiethnic student body.

Keywords. diversity; programmatic adaptations; Hispanic-serving institutions; technical, scientific, or professional communication curriculum; pedagogy


Activating the Uptake of Prior Knowledge Through Metacognitive Awareness: An Exploratory Study of Writing Transfer in Documen­tation and Source Use in Professional Writing Courses

Josephine Walwema, Oakland University

Dana Lynn Driscoll, Oakland University

Abstract. Research in writing studies and technical communication has indicated that prior knowledge, or what students bring and adapt into new situations, is critical to student learning. Although prior knowledge and writing transfer has been examined more broadly, a gap exists in the examination of students’ transfer of documentation, citation, and source use in technical and business communication courses. This study attempts to fill this gap by presenting results of a quasi-experimental pilot study of three professional writing courses. In the control condition, students in one course completed an assignment and reflection; in the treatment condition, stu­dents were exposed to various in-class activities and metacognitive reflection to activate prior knowledge before completing the assignment and reflection. Results suggest no statistically significant differences between the groups in terms of written performance; however, students in the experimental condition demonstrated measurable differences in their reflective writing. We conclude that the study had value for students in reflective practice and building metacogni­tive awareness, but instruction was not sustained enough to produce meaningful change.

Keywords. transfer of learning, prior knowledge, documentation, professional writing


Making the Most of Your Internship Program

Susan M. Katz, North Carolina State University

Abstract. Creating or maintaining an internship program is a complex task, and the mecha­nisms used for this work vary greatly from one program to the next. Based on a survey of North Carolina State University’s peer institutions, as well as my own experience managing an internship program, this article describes some of the key factors, including the type of students allowed to participate, and the expectations and responsibilities of faculty, students, and intern­ship hosts. The article also discusses features unique to specific programs (such as transcript notation and parallel programs), emerging areas of concern (including the problems and op­portunities offered by virtual internships, the role of internships for graduate students, and legal issues), and possible areas of future research.

Keywords. internship program management, undergraduate internships, graduate internships, internship program design, government regulation of internships, internship course requirements


Program Showcase

North Dakota State’s Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture PhD

Miriam Mara, North Dakota State University

Andrew Mara, North Dakota State University

Heather Steinmann, North Dakota State University

Abstract. North Dakota State University’s PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture is an experiment in interdisciplinarity undertaken as our university switches to a more research-intensive mission. NDSU has entered a phase of rapid growth because of a recent string of good fortune due to North Dakota’s economic prosperity. That economic growth, coupled with NDSU’s entry into Carnegie’s highest research classification—Research University/Very High activity (RU/VH)—has enabled the English Department to embark on the path of teaching and training PhD students to find work in regional, national, and international companies and universities. In order to deal with the barriers to success, such as institutional apprehension about the humanities, the English Department decided to create a more interdisciplinary degree that grants credit for reflective and supervised work in internships, field-experiences, and teaching advanced undergraduate classes, and encourages interdisciplinary research and disquisitions. NDSU’s PhD program combines English offerings with classes in other Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences college departments, and offers students the chance to work on international partnerships, to teach Upper-Division Classes, and to professionalize with internships and field experiences. As we have added new faculty and PhD students, the collaborative strategy has allowed our department to serve PhD students without shortchanging undergraduate and MA student populations.

Keywords. technical communication, rhetoric, doctoral program, curriculum, PhD, hybrid


Guest Editorial

Internships: Past, Present, and Future

Charles H. Side, Fitchburg State University

Abstract. Research consistently identifies internships as a critical component of higher education that aims to provide transitions for students between the academic and professional world (Callahan & Benzing, 2004; Taylor, 1988). Consequently, most colleges and universities have internship programs of some sort, with tremendous variety among what is offered from institution to institution. Recent events, particularly the role of the U. S. Department of Labor’s oversight of internship programs and successful lawsuits challenging unpaid internships, require both educational institutions and internship providers to re-think the structure of internship programs. The goal of this article is to condense important past works published on internships, as well as to update our understanding of how internships are structured and maintained, based on these relatively recent developments.

Keywords. paid internship, unpaid Internship, internship xompensation, U. S. Department of Labor, apprenticeship, professionalism, civic engagement, techne, poesis, praxis


Book Reviews

Rhetorics and Technologies: New Directions in Writing and Communication. Edited by Stuart A. Selber, University of South Carolina Press, 2010. 230 pp.

Reviewed by Mariana Grohowski, Bowling Green State University


Rhetorical AccessAbility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies. Edited Lisa Meloncon,
Amityville, NY, 2013. 240 pp.

Reviewed by Caleb A. James, Bowling Green State University


Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build for Participation. Liza Potts. Routledge, 2014. 143 pp.

Reviewed by Michael Martin, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania