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 a transition period and is not accepting submissions at this time (January through May 2015).

Current Issue

Volume 6 Issue 2 (Autumn 2014)

Complete Issue

Front Matter

Front matter is included with the complete issue version, which also includes the journal's cover, information about the editorial offices' locations, copyright information, list of reviewers, table of contents, and articles.


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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 5.1 contains special commentary on a recurring theme in this issue: diversity in technical communication programs.



Certification and Its Implications to The Academic Community In Professional and Technical Communication

Saul Carliner, CTDP, Concordia University

Liz Pohland, Society for Technical Communication

Steven Jong, Oracle Corporation

Abstract. Interest in certification has grown in recent years with the growth in credentialing options available to professional and technical communicators. This article provides a foundation for considering certification. It first explains the purpose of certification and contrasts it with other types of credentialing, including licensure, accreditation, and certificates. Then this article identifies the certifications and certificates available to professional and technical communicators, and explains how third-party certifications differ from degree programs. Next, this article explains why organizations serving professional and technical communicators have increasingly stressed certification and how certifications encompass critical thinking. The article closes by suggesting how certifications affect academic programs in the field and how faculty can become involved with the process.

Keywords. Certification, credentialing, competencies


Teaching and Learning with Social Media: Tools, Cultures, and Best Practices

Alice R. Daer, Arizona State University

Liza Potts, Michigan State University

Abstract. This article provides items to consider and best practices for implementing a strategic plan for the use of social media in technical and scientific communication programs. The authors contend that social media can be used, adopted, and implemented best when its champions are thinking strategically, not just tactically. They note that these strategies should be based on realistic expectations about what students and users can contribute to a curriculum that integrates social media tools. Challenging popular assumptions about “digital natives,” the authors apply contemporary research on new literacy practices to provide concrete ideas for incorporating social media into curriculum design.

Keywords. Social media, internet, pedagogy, literacy, identity, privacy, digital native


Integrating Chinese Emphasis into a Professional Communication Program

Jennifer deWinter, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Abstract. This article outlines the processes and challenges of offering a China emphasis in a Professional Writing (PW) major. This approach to integrating cultural and/or linguistic competency track in a PW major addresses the need for more communication experts to have the culturally-based analytical skills needed to move within an increasingly international business market. This article discusses the steps for instituting a cultural focus in PW, including: 1) defining a strategic focus, which for me was China, and with this focus, we could identify key faculty and apply for appropriate grants; 2) conducting a full curriculum review of the PW courses to integrate Chinese content and offer a track for students who wanted depth in this area; 3) instituting study abroad and international university collaboration, which provided both students and faculty with research opportunities; and 4) attracting students with an emphasis on both traditional PW populations as well as our growing Chinese student population.

Keywords. Program development, international communication, cross-cultural communication, cultural competency, localization, study abroad


Program Showcase

University of Limerick’s MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning

Darina M. Slattery, University of Limerick

Yvonne Cleary, University of Limerick

Abstract. This article describes the mission, history, development, structure, and curriculum of the MA in Technical Communication and E-Learning, which is offered by the University of Limerick. The program started as a Graduate Diploma/ MA in Technical Communication but merged with the MA in E-Learning Design and Development in 2010. While the curriculum has evolved over the years, the overriding skill set of graduates remains constant; graduates are able to write clear, concise content for a range of media. In addition to discussing the curricular changes and structure, this article describes the typical roles filled by graduates, the faculty involved in the program, and the challenges they face administering the program.

Keywords. Technical communication, e-learning, curriculum development, industry links, assessments, online collaboration, teaching challenges


Curriculum Showcase

Overcoming Workplace Writing Norms: Empowering Technical-Writing Students Through Stylistic Analysis

Brian D. Blackburne, Sam Houston State University

Abstract. This article explores the importance of cultivating stylistic analysis in the technical-writing classroom. By acknowledging workplace challenges that graduates will likely encounter as technical writers, I begin by making a case for in-depth stylistic analysis of everyday documents. Using a specific example, the genre of airline safety briefings, I then provide a methodological framework that advanced students can use to understand such analyses—and ultimately plan their own. By first reviewing how these briefings function and how they have been studied in other fields, I demonstrate that the organizations involved with producing and regulating these documents have failed to incorporate the perspective of the technical writer. Drawing from Williams’ (1988; 1999) widely adopted principles of technical-writing style, I then analyze the scripts of representative safety briefings and quantify key stylistic aspects of the analysis. The resulting data indicate the extent to which these briefings employ ineffective writing style and the implications that such a style can have on readers (passengers). The discussion returns to the importance of empowering students with the skillset of conducting stylistic analyses. Before concluding with the implications that this type of study has for the technical-writing classroom, I provide a list of actions, and their rationales, that instructors can use to incorporate similar stylistic analyses in their programs’ curricula.

Keywords. Style, stylistic analysis, risk communication, technical-writing pedagogy, airline safety, curricula


Guest Editorial

Challenges and Opportunities Facing Programs: A Continuation of the CPTSC Plenary Conversation

Robert R. Johnson, Michigan Technological University

Pavel Zemliansky, University of Central Florida

Heidi McKee, Miami University

Abstract. At the 2013 CPTSC Conference, speakers on the plenary panel addressed a number of issues, including the greatest challenges programs face now and in the near future and how those challenges might be addressed. Drawing from our institutional experiences, we articulate a number of issues, including the continual need for programs to change to meet changing academic and professional contexts, the strengths and weaknesses of moves to intra- and interdisciplinarity, and the problem of eroding tenure-line faculty.

Keywords. Challenges, digital, educational technology, technical communication, professional writing, writing-across-the-curriculum, wac-tsc collaboration


Book Review

Start Your Career: 5 Steps to Finding the Right Job after College, Susan Katz. C&M Online Media, Inc. 2013. 88 pp.

Reviewed by Jessica Lauer, Michigan Technological University