Technical Writing and Communication Capstone Projects

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    Entering Silence: The Discourse of Noise Pollution
    (2019-12) Holien, Andrew P
    In this discourse analysis, I argue that the discourse of noise pollution in the United States is inadequate and that it belies the severity of noise as a latent public health crisis; moreover, I argue that the discourse often fails to examine the corrosive influence of noise on our collective capacity to think, reflect, and cultivate our interior lives.
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    Students’ Perceptions of Written Instructor Feedback on Student Writing
    (2018-05) Wisz, Eric
    Research Question. How do students perceive instructor feedback on their writing when different feedback approaches are presented? Literature Review. Previous literature on instructor feedback on student writing suggested that instructors take the view of a reader as a way to offer student writers encouragement and criticisms while prompting a sense of audience awareness in student writers (Elbow, 1973; Brannon & Knoblauch, 1982; Shaughnessy, 1977). Shaughnessy, Olson (1999), Hesse (1993), and Elbow (1986) also recommended using feedback as an opportunity to facilitate a dialogue between instructors and students. Kent (1989) and Dobrin (1999) argued that feedback introduces student writers to new discourse communities and their underlying beliefs and that it is important of instructors to be conscientious of this fact. Previous research of student perceptions of instructor feedback on their writing has indicated that students prefer feedback that is specific and elaborate (Straub, 2000) and that focuses on their writing more so than their ideas (Lynch & Klemans, 1978). Whether students value feedback on grammar is debated in the literature (Lynch & Klemans, 1978; Shaughnessy, 1977). In this study, I have attempted to follow in Nordlof ’s (2014) footsteps and move away from the reductionist facilitative-directive spectrum in which offering more explicit feedback is seen as sacrificing student agency. Instead, I analyze the results of this study through a scaffolding paradigm, using degrees of directness to categorize feedback.
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    Applying What I've Learned in TWC: Themes from Visual Rhetoric, Writing with Digital Technologies, International Communication, and Usability
    (2018-05) Berger, Alex
    This project, which includes both a website created using HTML and this accompanying report, applies concepts and themes taken from four courses from the Technical Writing & Communication (TWC) coursework at the University of Minnesota. The key focal areas include rhetorical analysis, design analysis, user testing, and cultural analysis. I developed a website that applies the above concepts while simultaneously meeting the needs of a local nonprofit arts organization, Woodbury Community Theatre. How the website addresses the themes referenced above is the main focus of this report. The purpose of this project was to think critically about and then apply salient moments from my four years at the University.
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    Understanding Technical Language Use in Competitive League of Legends
    (2019-04) Ernst, Nathan
    League of Legends (LoL) is an online competitive strategy game that necessitates a constant sharing of information between five teammates. The game is the largest part of the esports industry with more than 100 million monthly players. Professional “gamers” play in competitive matches that last anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and require constant communication of details and strategy between the five teammates. This study was done to better understand the role of technical language within competitive LoL teams. What tools do they utilize to communicate in this high stress environment? What does their ‘technical’ communication look like when it’s broken down?
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    The Potential for Voice-Assistant Technology in Digital and Physical Spaces
    (2019-04) Wiswell, Kendra
    In my paper, I will discuss the degree of assistance that voice-assistive technologies currently provide to their users. I will also evaluate how these technologies increase the “usability” of the physical world. Finally, I will make suggestions about the future of voice-assistive technologies. Throughout my research, I will attempt to answer the question: In what ways can a new conceptual model improve the usability of voice assistants by providing users with a more intuitive support system?
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    Renaming Campus Buildings: A Step Towards Reparations at the University of Minnesota
    (2019-04) Holly, Lauren
    Most of the buildings that make up the University of Minnesota campus have been around since the university was founded in 1851. Many of these buildings have remained permanent fixtures on campus and each holds with it a history, and, of course, a name. However, four of these buildings–Coffey Hall, Coffman Memorial Union, Middlebrook Hall, and Nicholson Hall–are named after individuals who held a vision for the University of Minnesota much different from the U we see today. The men whom the buildings are named after were claimed to uphold racist ideals and promote discrimination during their time on campus. I set out to learn about the history behind these buildings and to explore the current efforts to have them renamed. I also wanted to learn more about individuals who resisted oppression at the university at this time.
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    Developing a Content Management Framework for the UMN Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Policy and Procedure Manual: A Case Study
    (2017-04-25) Shirk, Caitlin
    Engineering and Mechanics Department to revise their digital policy and procedure manual. I aimed to act as a technical communicator would on a real-world, complex project, utilize the skills and tools I gained throughout my academic studies in technical communication, and explore more specialized topics in technical communication, in-depth. What are best practices for handling digital information? Do technical communicators play a role in determining how information is stored and retrieved in technological systems? Or does the role of the technical communicator lie solely in the realm of content creation and curation?
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    Social Media Response to MNsure Website and its Implications for Businesses
    (2017-04-25) Harker, Paige
    As part of Web 2.0, social media has allowed for more complex, multifaceted communication (Bythe, Laur & Curran, 2014). The “user generated content” trend in the communication field has caused social media websites to become more popular than other non-participatory websites (Lim, 2016). Social media has many benefits, including increased civic engagement among users (Olssen, 2016) and the sheer volume in which responses are posted. However, many businesses in the United States have not yet realized the potential in utilizing social media to benefit their company. According to Hurley and Hea (2014), one of the major concerns related to social media is representation management, which means that businesses must realize that the way in which their brand is represented online will have an effect on customer opinion of the brand. By analyzing the specific case of the MNsure health insurance website, one is able to see the importance of social media responses and what can happen when companies disregard them.
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    Web Accessibility in Higher Education: An Evaluation of the Department of Writing Studies Site
    (2017-04-25) LaLiberte, Jacqueline
    Higher education institutions, including the University of Minnesota, have a duty to provide websites that are accessible to web users with and without disabilities. This duty stems from United States law, web best practices, and the universities’ own mission statements and accessibility guidelines. Two concepts, accessibility and universal design, guide the creation of successful, accessible websites. The purpose of this study is to conduct a preliminary accessibility audit of a website managed by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Writing Studies to determine if the site meets baseline accessibility requirements. The evaluation was completed using the Functional Accessibility Evaluator tool. The evaluation is supplemented by a brief review of accessibility/universal design and an overview of accessibility requirements affecting the University. The results of this initial evaluation suggest that, while the University of Minnesota may acknowledge the importance of accessibility, the University must take further steps to uphold the spirit of federal law and the University’s own mission. Further evaluation, including accessibility testing with prospective users at the University, is advised to better understand user needs and issues.
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    Making Fine Forms: Common Grant Application Form Analysis, Evaluation, and Creation
    (2016-04) Meitzner, Erika
    Common Grant Application Forms exist to help streamline the grant application process for both grantors and proposal writers. Clear and concise instructions allow proposal writers to spend the majority of their time creating proposals of the highest quality. When forms require proposal writers to spend time clarifying instructions, determining which documents are required or not, or navigating a confusing document the benefit of using a Common Grant Application Form is lost.
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    Creating Instructions for a Cross-Cultural Audience: A Collaboration with Students in Trieste, Italy
    (2018-04-23) Kratzke, Megan
    The core principles of technical writing and communication (TWC) and web design are critical when creating online materials for a cross-cultural audience. The purpose of this document is to explain the process of creating an effective online instruction set for use and translation by students in Italy. This project was completed in the WRIT 3562W class at the University of Minnesota, under the instruction of Professor Brandi Fuglsby. As the technical communicator in this project, I was able to apply the TWC principles I’ve learned throughout my coursework to a real-life situation, and for an audience that lives amongst a different culture, and for whom English is not their first language.
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    Students’ Perceptions of Written Instructor Feedback on Student Writing
    (2018-04-23) Wisz, Eric
    Research Question. How do students perceive instructor feedback on their writing when different feedback approaches are presented? Literature Review. Previous literature on instructor feedback on student writing suggested that instructors take the view of a reader as a way to offer student writers encouragement and criticisms while prompting a sense of audience awareness in student writers (Elbow, 1973; Brannon & Knoblauch, 1982; Shaughnessy, 1977). Shaughnessy, Olson (1999), Hesse (1993), and Elbow (1986) also recommended using feedback as an opportunity to facilitate a dialogue between instructors and students. Kent (1989) and Dobrin (1999) argued that feedback introduces student writers to new discourse communities and their underlying beliefs and that it is important of instructors to be conscientious of this fact. Previous research of student perceptions of instructor feedback on their writing has indicated that students prefer feedback that is specific and elaborate (Straub, 2000) and that focuses on their writing more so than their ideas (Lynch & Klemans, 1978). Whether students value feedback on grammar is debated in the literature (Lynch & Klemans, 1978; Shaughnessy, 1977). In this study, I have attempted to follow in Nordlof ’s (2014) footsteps and move away from the reductionist facilitative-directive spectrum in which offering more explicit feedback is seen as sacrificing student agency. Instead, I analyze the results of this study through a scaffolding paradigm, using degrees of directness to categorize feedback.