Technical Writing Across Disciplines

I will be at the New Jersey Writing Alliance Spring (NJWA) Conference at Georgian Court University in New Jersey on Thursday, May 29, 2014. The conference theme is "Achieving College-Ready Writing: The Common Core and Beyond"

This will be their 15th annual conference to focus on the practical pedagogical, institutional, and economic issues that face us as we help students make the transition from writing in high school to writing in college. What I like about these events is that it a real mix of secondary school and college teachers.

My presentation is on "Technical Writing Across Disciplines" and will examine how a technical writing course can emphasize a research approach and problem solving unlike the academic writing done for most classes.

This semester I am teaching technical writing at New Jersey Institute of Technology and at Montclair State University. The class at NJIT is made up of primarily engineering students and the MSU class is approximately half English majors and half a mix of biology, computer science and psychology majors.

In my class, students learn to do audience analysis, work in collaborative environments and gain familiarity with tools used for writing in digital modes. While designing professional documents, such as proposals, they become familiar with the cultural and ethical concerns of a global workplace. The writing tasks are all based on the content of their majors.

But how different is it to teach technical writing at a science and technology university and at a comprehensive liberal-arts university?

Keeping with the conference theme, I'll also examine how secondary school teachers can teach writing about science and technical subjects  which is a strand of the English Language Arts Standards that are part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative as adopted in NJ..

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