« Special considerations in educational case studies | Main | Hopefully coherent ramblings »

Tech Comm Classroom Research

I appreciate the relevance of the articles we read for today. Not only do they contribute to the overall body of knowledge in technical communication education, they also inform our day-to-day teaching practices. I believe it is the essential nature of teachers to strive, perpetually, for improved instructional effectives. These studies provide our self-critiques with substantive frames of reference that challenge us to expand our approaches to teaching technical communication.

Kastman-Breuch presents her case in a well-organized and direct fashion. The purpose of the study is clear from the outset and the resulting issues appear fully developed. I appreciate the contribution it makes to technical writing instruction and found myself thinking about how to incorporate some of her conclusions into my own teaching. I do, however, have a number of questions about the study itself. First, I was under the impression that we should not conduct a “formal study? with classes we are actively teaching, yet both Kastman-Breuch and Tebeaux are studying their own classes. Second, I’m curious how clients were found and convinced(?) to participate in the course. There was a commitment of time and effort on their part with no guarantee that the students would produce adequately. Finally, I’d like to know how the interview data was coded. What brought the researcher to the 3 issues ultimately explored in the article. How did they emerge from the data?

In the Tebeaux piece, I appreciate the detailed outline of course content and structure but would’ve liked more details of the actual teaching process. I feel that case study research that “invites? the reader into the story or process has more impact. Also, the research question driving this study didn’t initially jump out at me – is it ‘explaining how a distance technical education course builds on the basic theory of distance education?’ To partially address some of Merry’s questions, I’m concerned about bias creeping into studies of our own classes. While the classes we teach provide a ready-made sample, how objective can we be with our own material and students? Had the Tebeaux piece been in a FtF class, such as Kastman-Breuch’s, there would’ve been more traditional “observations? of what went on in the class. However, I think online exchanges could also be offered as “observations? of what transpired in the class. The only thing missing is the visual piece. I wish Tebeaux had done more of that.

Looking forward to the discussion Merry!!