From the category archives:

Business/Tech Writing

Rhetoric of Typography: Appropriateness

by Dr Davis on April 26, 2014

Brumberger, Eva. “The Rhetoric of Typography: The Awareness and Impact of Typeface Appropriateness.” Technical Communication 50.2 (May 2003): 224-31. Web. 1 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0evidence for the notion that typeface personas have impact (224)
typeface suitability studied (224)
typefaces vary in appropriateness based on text (225), study done by Haskins
typeface appropriateness based on sharing features with text (225), study done by Walker, Smith, and Livingston

UG students in intro psych course
gender potentially important variable
ethnicity, first language, internet usage, age, major collected
36 participants (18 male, 18 female) (226)
students had very clear preferences for appropriateness of typeface (226)
none of the demographic information that was usable (large enough sample) made a difference (227)
EXCEPT gender (229)

For the professional text males preferred the friendly font (Bouhaus) while women preferred the elegant font (CounselorScript).

People had strong views of appropriateness of typeface to text (230).
Typeface persona did not need to correlate with text persona (230).

{ 0 comments }

Cross-Cultural Use of Graphics: China v US

by Dr Davis on April 24, 2014

Qiuye, Wang. “A Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Use of Graphics in Scientific and Technical Communication.” Technical Communication 47.4 (November 2000): 553-60. Web. 12 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Compares graphics’ usage in China (high-context culture) and US (low-context culture).

universality of graphics?

Maitra and Goswami (1995) looked at specifics in Japanese graphics

sources: “popular science magazines and instruction manuals for household products”
about Dolly (sheep cloning)

analyzed:
verbal-visual integration
information selected for graphics
techniques used to enhance usability

“American manuals have much better verbal-visual integration than the Chinese manuals.”

Visually heavier than words, pictures are usually used for emphasis. The graphics in the two sets of manual illustrations indicate a difference of emphasis, the American on task performance and the Chinese on product information.

“When presenting a new idea to general readers, the Chinese tend to provide more contextual information, while the Americans tend to be direct.”

Chinese culture = relational, holistic
American culture = problem-oriented, direct, explicit

in China, the norm to include technical information useful to repair person, but not owner/operator of equipment
So definitely keep the manuals if you are in China.

for Chinese audience, supply context and/or overview
for American audience, be focused

Quiye did not look at a lot of images, only eight total. However, they probably are fairly representative OR they fit the argument he/she wanted to make.

{ 0 comments }

Web 2.0 Collaboration in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 19, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Beuchler, Scott. “Using Web 2.0 to Collaborate.” Business Communication Today 73 (2010): 439-43. Web. 15 January 2014.

Beuchler added a blog to the final report project, which is a collaborative assignment. Group photos, the class naming the blog, required postings, and the information for those posts were part of the assignment. Teams of students related by industries they examined were required to create a video, which was also posted to the blog. After five companies made it to the finals, based on classroom voting and recommendations, students had to read posts on the five companies and add a comment arguing for the company they would choose to support. Beuchler found that the blog facilitated group decision making, allowed students to demonstrate their ability to use technology, and reinforced the responsibility of ideas.

typingThis is a fairly simple addition to the final report project, but apparently Beuchler had great success with it. Following the work of Cardon and Okoro, however, it indicates a use of technology not common in the business world. However, despite Cardon and Okoro’s arguments, learning an additional technology–even if it is not used in work–can be a positive benefit as students recognize their ability to learn and use technology and can claim facility with it as a skill on their résumé.

When I first read the summary, I thought the article would be a waste of time. However, I have been considering creating a blog (on my own website) that students would have access to and could add the information that they create for the freshmen. Then I could offer my own students (and others) the opportunity to peruse the website and use the information they find there. That is still a possibility for implementation in spring 2014 and is certainly doable by fall 2014.

RrNm

{ 0 comments }

YouTube and Comm Ethics

by Dr Davis on April 18, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Lehman, Carol M., Debbie D. DuFrene, and Mark W. Lehman. “YouTube Video Project: A ‘Cool’ Way to Learn Communication Ethics.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 444-49.

The article begins with the statement that businesses expect their business students to have been instructed in ethics. It then discusses the issue with studying case studies (irrelevant and boring) and argues that role playing, through the creation of a video on the case study, engages critical thinking and contributes to student enjoyment–which might increase learning (445). The assignment is to create a video on the case study that is to be part of the class’ (company’s) formal training on ethics. As a beginning point, students should learn the four behavior possibilities (illegal and unethical; legal, yet unethical; illegal, yet ethical; legal and ethical). Students decide on a communication rule and create a two- to four-minute video giving a realistic roleplaying of breaking that rule. Five points about videos that students might not know should be explained. 1) Short and simple. 2) Avoid gimmicks and too much movement. 3) Have good audio. 4) Choose appropriate clothing, avoiding patterns and bright colors. 5) Edit the video to eliminate errors. Inviting judges to watch and score the videos is recommended (446). Also having a premier is recommended.

This article refers to YouTube as “cutting-edge social media” (444). I think this is a mistake, even for 2010, though it is certainly not true in 2014. In 2014 Instagram would be the cutting-edge social media. However, YouTube is a viable and–dare I say–revered channel for students. Certainly a premier gives the appearance of importance, which is why I have done this with my fyc classes. The points for teaching about videos are good–though most of my students don’t make those mistakes anyway.

I think that when I have a B&P Writing class that is larger instituting this might be a good idea. I dropped the ethics assignment because they have a course in ethics in their major (business related) and I couldn’t do anything substantially better or different. This, however, might qualify.

RrNm

{ 0 comments }

Teaching New Media Responsibly

by Dr Davis on April 12, 2014

Veltsos, Jennifer R. and Christophe Veltsos. “Teaching Responsibly with Technology-mediated Communication.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 463-67.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Privacy rules require that students not be forced to disclose certain personal information. Some students are at risk if they are required to create a website, or whatever, so be prepared to allow the creation of a sock puppet (464).

Remind students of the permanence of the internet. Tweets are now archived with the Library of Congress (465).

Discuss the usability of online sources and how it can constitute plagiarism (465). –Educational use only is allowed, but if we post these anywhere else, then we are infringing on someone else’s copyright. This is important to note if they are planning to post a video to YouTube. … Discuss how audio and visuals can be found that are creative commons and/or public domain.

Performance feedback must be kept private (466). So don’t comment on the video or the blog post if it is in the general internet –or even if it is behind a school wall. Others within the school can still see it.

These are good points to remember.

{ 0 comments }

Seeing Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 11, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Allen, Nancy. “Seeing Rhetoric.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Ed. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 32-50.

“Visual rhetoric refers to the visual communication of features and the effects they have on readers/viewers” (Allen 33).

Allen uses specific examples to argue that visuals provide information, make rhetorical appeals, and add nuance.

“To use visual rhetoric effectively, then, we must be careful to consider each item’s appropriateness to our audiences and purpose” (Allen 38).

“A good source for finding examples of the appeal through ethos is personal websites” (Allen 39).

Quotes 2002 website credibility study from Stanford, saying 46% of participants rated credibility of a site based on visual aspects (Allen 39).

Allen suggests that students be required to design their own website, to practice developing ethos (39). She also says that visuals often present the emotional appeal. “[W]e are often swayed more by our passion or emotions (Corbett 34), and it is emotion that inspires us to take action (99)” (Allen 40).

Allen says that images are a good invention strategy. “When students in my classes are developing ideas, with the goal of preparing a recommendation report, I ask them to create visual representations of the problem as part of the development process” (41). She says she actually requires multiple visual representations, in order to facilitate movement beyond “linear matrices and flow charts to sketches and visuals based on freer types of associations” (41).

“[V]isuals translate relations over time into relations in space” which, she argues, helps them to be more easily understood (42). She notes that search engines have become forms of invention and that they have also become more visual.

She notes that “headings in the center are more important than those on the side, and items in a list are related” (44), which we know from stylistic guides but they are rhetorical strategies that can be used effectively. I think this is something that résumé conventions do not strictly follow (at least on center headings). It is, however, interesting to think about whether or not a name centered seems to have more importance than a name to the left side.

“When text becomes art” (46) I noted as a great tag line.

Is this a goal for digital presentations? Text becoming art?

She quotes Donald Norman’s discussion of usability design that visuals provide memory aids. This is the same thing that Jesse Schell argues in The Art of Game Design.

Visuals evoke curiosity. People want to know the story behind images that catch their attention (48).

“Visual thinking during our writing process expands our reservoir of ideas” (Allen 48), which is why the digital presentation should come during or within the writing process, according to a CCTE presentation I attended several years ago.

male studying computerThis is harder to do than I expected, as it seems like students are working on disparate projects. However, I know that doing the digital project does enhance the writing project. Should I revise the 112 schedule to reflect that? Or is having them do two kinds of composing at the same time asking/requiring the students to work with mental overload?

RrNm

{ 0 comments }

Students and Assessment

by Dr Davis on April 10, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Crews, Tena B. and Kelly Wilkinson. “Students’ Perceived Preference for Visual and Auditory Assessment with E-Handwritten Feedback.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 399-412.

The literature review says that writing skills have decreased, that a single course cannot remediate student writing skills, and that business communication is another course to emphasize writing. It charges that as submission modes change, so, too, should modes of assessment. It presents four goals: “(a) learners are actively involved and receive feedback; (b) learners become increasingly sophisticated learners and knowers; (c) professors coach and facilitate, intertwining teaching and assessing; and (d) learning is interpersonal, and all learners—students and professors—are respected and valued (Huba & Freed, 2000)” (401). Comments on papers are often ineffective [so why do we write them?] (402). They used a web-based questionnaire with assessment examples to gather data. Most students were seniors, traditional ages; a little more than half were male (405). Handwritten were ranked as the least helpful. Audio and visual with e-writing were ranked as most helpful. The participants also ranked benefits for each assessment type and answered which types were used by other professors.

This is an interesting quantitative study. It appears to have been carried out well. I am unsure that students saying they found something helpful means it is helpful, but it will more likely be perceived as helpful by the students… which would lead to better evaluations for the teacher, assuming the feedback given was decent/good.

I have sometimes written entire letters for feedback. I have even recorded responses. These take much more time than handwritten. I would want to know that a) they were being listened to and b) being used.

RrNm

{ 0 comments }

Wikis and Document Design

by Dr Davis on April 8, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Clark, Thomas and Jeffrey Stewart. “Using Document Design to Create and Maintain Wikis.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 453-56.

Despite the argument put forth by Carmon and Okoro, Clark and Stewart say that wikis are becoming a necessary part of business writing. Something companies (and teachers) find valuable is that information on editing is available and previous iterations are maintained (453). Then the article gives ideas for creating wikis, including using similar templates and encouraging precision in titles (454). The article also describes the responsibility of the Wiki managing editor (which is a position students could campaign for). Wikis help business manage knowledge more effectively and could help students learn the principles for designing and editing effective wikis (456).

The article’s ideas are good, but for someone who has no idea about Wikis, there is insufficient detail to really begin to use them in the classroom.

Perhaps I should reconsider the idea of the website/blog posts and learn Wikis and see if those would work for my freshman newbie information site.

RrNm Ann Bib

{ 0 comments }

Business Comm and New Media

by Dr Davis on April 7, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Cardon, Peter W. and Ephraim Okoro. “A Measured Approach to Adopting New Media in the Business Communication Classroom.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 435-38.

The article states that instructors rush technological change in the classroom and gives three questions to ask before adopting new tech. “Does our emphasis on various communication technologies in theclassroom mirror the use of these technologies in the workplace?” (Cardon and Okoro 435). The most common technology used in the workplace is email, with as much as 15 hours/week being spent (435), then simple phone calls; other technology is significantly less common (436). “Do the technologies we adopt in the classroom mirror those best classified as business communication and help the field retain a unique identity?” (436). While social media is used in business, it is primarily in marketing, and blogs are primarily concentrated in leadership education (437). “Does the use of technology in the classroom complement and encourage rich, face-to-face communication?” (437) Technology should not, the article argues, replace f2f communication.

The first and third questions are good ones and though the article may not give strong arguments for them, there are strong arguments. The second question, however, is not even addressed in terms of unique field identity. The article would have been stronger without the second question, which brings in tangential rather than germane arguments.

The high use of email is a good point and one I had not thought of. I do use email a lot in my B&P Writing class and most of my students email their homework. They also usually email questions (rather than texting).

RrNm

{ 0 comments }

Facebook in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 3, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Decarie, Christina. “Facebook: Challenges and Opportunities for Business Communication Students.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 449-52. Web. 15 January 2014.

The article argues that the ability to use Facebook well and wisely is essential. It says that Facebook encourages strong writing, interpersonal communication skills, and Web 2.0 literacy. To show how Fb encourages strong writing, the author points out poorly written status updates and asks students what opinion they form about the writer. For interpersonal communication skills, she arrived at school one day and saw that a student who was not an FB friend had carried on a discussion with another over boring teachers and not going to class. She opened that in class and let the class comment on it. Showing that people who are friends of your friends can see your status is an important piece of information. Another student was given the opportunity to pitch a project to the university president. While preparing for his speech, he opened the FB page and saw that he was featured shirtless and drinking a beer hands-free. A friend snapped a picture of him in his professional attire and the student uploaded it immediately, before he went into the president’s office for the meeting. Finally the professor details her own experience meeting a writer online and pitching the idea of her publishing his blog entries as a chap book. Students read and commented on her pitch letter; they also asked for details about how the online meeting had happened, how the relationship was developed, and, finally, about the author’s answer. This allowed the students to see the use FB could be put to for both forming new networking relationships but also for developing business opportunities.

When I began reading I did not think this article would be very credible. However, the three very simple examples she gave, and her argument that FB promotes strong writing, were persuasive.

facebookI tell students not to post things they don’t want their future employers to see, but perhaps I should again have students google the other students and read through their FB posts for something that could be damaging to their futures. The stories in this article will be very useful for communication disasters to tell my students about.

RrNm

{ 0 comments }