|I would like to congratulate you on the quality of the newsletter. It's well done.|
Dr. Stan Dicks, Director of the M.S. in Technical Communication
|Yet another fun—and funny—newsletter. No clip art, no pictures of cats. Ahhh.|
Anonymous, Tech Comm friend
I took the Wolfline to Tompkins, where I attended a presentation by Dr. Loel Kim, a professor from the University of Memphis, who is here as a candidate for a job opening in the English Department.
She presented on research she has recently participated in, and it was quite interesting work—at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, usability testing a hand-held interface to facilitate Informed Consent communication between parents of the sick kids and the doctors.
I found her quite engaging, academically, and more personable than not, socially.
From 5:00–6:00, I attended a Happy Hour for her at Mitch's, which at first I found disengaging, but after asserting myself and taking a seat next to her, got what I wanted out of it.
These are the questions I asked of her, and the answers, which are paraphrased, I received:
|Q: I have a follow-up question about your research presentation. What was the impetus to developing the interface and its prototype? Was it the physicians who were concerned about whether they were being as unbiased as they should be, was it on the parents'/patients' side who doubted the doctors were being or could be unbiased, the non-physician contingency that questioned the doctors' motives, some audit item, or something else entirely that prompted it? |
A: It was definitely on the physicians' side, and I believe she said that the head MD on their team was the one who wanted them to find a way to ensure that they were obtaining Informed Consent without a bias.
Q: What did you feel that your expertise in rhetoric brought to the team?
A: The ability to make sure that many different angles were considered in the communication that took place during the Informed Consent process. (Basically, audience, context, and purpose considerations.)
Q: Did you feel that the team recognized your contribution? (i.e., Did you feel valued there?)
A: Yes, but I do think that the fact that the other people on the team were academic, for the most part, helped them to see what our contribution was. And, yes, I felt like a valuable member of the team.
I articulated to her that I thought of this question, because from her presentation, I did sense that her work was valued, and that she felt valued, while it seems to be a constant struggle in the business world for technical communicators to "prove their worth."
Q: When you saw this job opening at NCSU, what about it made you think, "Yeah, that's a place I'd like to work!"
Hmmm. I'd have to say the PhD program. It's something we've wanted to have at our university, but we just can't seem to get the faculty, programming and momentum to have one. It really appeals to me to have a PhD program involving rhetoric.
Q: Well, that segues nicely into my last question. I was hoping to hear you say more than the PhD program, as one of the things I think some of us "lowly Master's students" are concerned about is that the MS program will suffer at the success of the PhD program. Are you committed to a Master's program? Would you teach a course in the MS program?
A: Oh most definitely. I would definitely teach a course in the MS program, and I do think the MS program is important. It's a way to make sure we have people coming into the PhD program, and working on your Master's is a time to explore the different areas to possibly research in if that's what you want to go on and do.
Q: I assume you looked at the course offerings here at NCSU before you came. Does any course come to mind that you think might be beneficial to add to our offerings?
A: Yes. I think a course that specifically addresses the "other things" that affect technical communicators in the working world. The teaming aspects, cultural aspects, other parts of your day that might not have anything to do with technical communication—those sorts of things. It's not just the technology that is complex nowadays, but the global nature of interaction is a factor in communication that must be considered.
At the end of this, she asked us what we thought was missing, as well, which I really appreciated.
At just after 6:00, I walked from Mitch's over to Two Guys, where I had dinner with Joe.
Tonight was the first night of the ENG 675 Projects in Technical Communication, also known as our "Capstone Course."
This is the course we have to take near the end of the program. It's what we do in the place of a thesis. You work on a semester long project, employing as many as you can of the things you've learned during the entire program, and then, at the end of the semester, you have to do an oral presentation on it in front of the faculty, where you "defend" your work against compelling questions they will ask.
We started off in TG123, which was cold as f***, and after about 20 minutes, moved upstairs to T123. We went around the room, each giving a short description of the project we're considering, and Dr. Swarts gave us feedback on them.
The time flew by to me. Of course, the last three courses I've taken, I believe, have been 3-hour-long classes, and this one was only one hour, 15 minutes.