Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So, some students have given their presentations already and there are still several to go. From what you've seen and from what you know, what do you think the elements of a strong PowerPoint presentation are? What are some pitfalls that all people using PPT should try to avoid? What must you take into consideration when you are creating your PPT presentation? How do these considerations guide your design?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Your final technical report

As you are in the final days of working on your technical report, other than time-management issues, what part of the project has given you the most trouble? Is it the aesthetic component? Is it the integration of your primary research? How about the demand that you make your terminology and research comprehensible for non-experts? Or the integration and discussion of images? What about grammar and style? Or the incorporation of secondary research in a smooth and meaningful way? What is the hardest for you at this point?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What do you learn from peer review?

On a project such as the one you're currently working on, our technical report, what benefits do you receive from the peer review process? Can you think of any ways in which this process might be improved?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

IRB Approval

We spoke several weeks ago about the need to get IRB Approval for certain primary research practices. I want you to look up "IRB Approval" both on our NMT site and by doing a Google search. From what you read, tell me first what an "IRB Approval" is. Second, why is IRB approval important to secure and for what kinds of projects it is critical? Based on what you've read, why does your project need to have it or why does your project not need to have it?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Annotated bibliography

Have you ever created an annotated bibliography before now? If so, when? In our instance, how do you think the exercise of completing the annotated bibliography will help you with the ultimate construction of your report?
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Primary research

What kind of graphics will you use to convey or accompany your "primary research" in your final report? Will these graphics serve the purpose of making technical details comprehensible to a non-expert audience? What problems with this conveyance of information do you foresee?
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Friday, March 4, 2011


We examined an online "How To" for helping to save a choking dog. We pointed out many features of these instructions that we saw as problematic. What were some of the flaws? What were some of the strengths of that set of instructions?

Different audiences

In a business setting, concerning workplace documents, might a technical writer fall victim to the use of logical fallacies? If so, how? Your book might help you think of an example. In regard to the images such business documents employ, might these also be compromised is terms of ethics? How can a business graphic appeal to the reader's sense of the company's credibility or to the reader's emotion or logic?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Website appeals

Of the websites you/we perused in class today, which do you think relies most heavily on an emotional appeal to its audience (pathos)? Explain and give evidence. Can you think of any sites that you visit regularly that are free of emotional appeals?
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Document in Field

In your recent "Document in Field" assignment, what was the most difficult challenge to you in "translating" technical information from your field for the comprehension of a non-expert? In what instances in your professional future might you have to perform such a "translation"?
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Your resumes . . .

After completing the resume assignment, what would you say were the most significant items you learned in regard to the content of the resume as well as the design of it? In what ways do you think your resume is stronger now as compared to your original version? What do you think still needs to be improved?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ethics and your previous jobs...

Reflecting on jobs you've held in the past or currently have, reflect on what your "obligations to your employer" were, an idea your book discusses in chapter two. Was there ever a time when your obligations to your employer conflicted with your "obligations to the public"? How? If you've never been faced with such a conflict yourself, relate an experience of a friend's or family member's or one that you've seen unfold in the public domain.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to Technical Writing!

I am excited for us to embark on our investigation of "technical writing" this semester! Since you all are Juniors and Seniors and have done significant research in your major field of study by this time, I am guessing that at some point you have come across a document or graphic that was intended to communication "specialist" information to a non-specialist audience. I know, however, that you have probably more often come across documents that were written for people with a specialized vocabulary in a particular scholarly area. You are now becoming a kind of "specialist" yourself, but our class this semester aims to help you maintain (or develop!) sensitivity to the comprehension needs of non-specialists.

Can you think of an instance in your field of study and/or future career when you might need to communicate some highly technical information to a non-specialist audience? How might you do that and why might it be critically important to do so?