Returning to an industry-informed technical writing and communication course design

Alyson Grace Eggleston, Robert J. Rabb

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


At inception, technical writing course design was informed by military and industry needs. Changing student demographics during the 20th century, coupled with a spate of retirements of military- and industry-connected technical writing instructors, resulted in deep changes to both technical writing as a field and the way it is taught [1]. These reverberations continue in present day technical writing classrooms. Current government and industry stakeholders are aware that technical and engineering employees could benefit from continuing education in technical writing [2]. Many government agencies and industries have realized that they may have a superior product or service, but they miss opportunities because their grant or proposal writers conveyed improper or inadequate information. And while the conventional focus on rhetorical positioning in technical writing courses can result in more careful student writers, this paper calls for a return to producing effective authentic documents-those written work products that demonstrate awareness of known and unknown readers, document project management, and are written to make reading easy. Moreover, these authentic documents should be situational, and produced in response to real project demands, as opposed to written products that exclusively attempt to imagine appropriate responses to hypothetical situations. Realizing this need, this paper identifies key pathways for developing and strengthening ties between academic institutions and industry stakeholders that have been successful at the The Citadel. Using student success indicators in a technical writing and communication course designed for engineering students, quantitative and qualitative results from two case studies are presented. Results are extracted from pre- and post-testing of student performance indicators at The Citadel, as well as from surveys to gauge student perceptions of performance and confidence. The first case study presents evidence of student performance gains observed after completion of a device repair guide project, produced for iFixit, a consumer-focused device repair company, to meet the needs of real users. The second case study presents evidence of student performance gains after implementing a condensed version of an industry-requested workshop on proposal writing. This paper makes recommendations for technical writing course design and assessment, as well as the demonstrated merits of building industry-informed projects in the technical writing classroom, putting rhetoric in action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Returning to an industry-informed technical writing and communication course design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this