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Category: Articles

State of the Field: Teaching with Digital Tools in Writing and Communication

Citation

Robinson, J., Dusenberry, L., Hutter, L, Lawrence, L., Frazee, A. and Burnett, R. (forthcoming Fall 2019). State of the Field: Teaching with Digital Tools in Writing and Communication, Computers and Composition.

Abstract

Recent rapid technological change has influenced the ways writing and communication teachers and students use digital tools in their classrooms. We surveyed 328 writing and communication teachers about their use of digital resources in the classroom, in planning, and in course management. Our study finds that over one-third of teachers either teach themselves or use their existing knowledge to support digital pedagogy; learning management systems are used overwhelmingly to distribute materials; teachers perform a range of teaching tasks with both digital and non-digital tools; and teachers often depend on familiar, commonly available resources to perform teacher and learner actions. We recommend that the field should offer more targeted training for writing and communication teachers about the use of digital resources, support development of a repository of crowdsourced best practices, advocate for teachers to become stakeholders in the development and selection of digital resources to encourage more deliberate and targeted use of digital tools, and systematically collect information about digital resource use in the field.

Supplementary Materials

Filter. Remix. Make.: Cultivating Adaptability Through Multimodality

Citation

Dusenberry, L., Hutter, L., and Robinson, J. (2015). Filter. Remix. Make: Cultivating Adaptability Through Multimodality. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 45(3), 299-322.

Abstract

This article establishes traits of adaptable communicators in the 21st century, explains why adaptability should be a goal of technical communication educators, and shows how multimodal pedagogy supports adaptability. Three examples of scalable, multimodal assignments (infographics, research interviews, and software demonstrations) that evidence this philosophy are discussed in detail. Asking students to communicate multimodally drives them to effectively filter information, remix modes, and remake practices that are core characteristics of adaptable communicators. Beyond teaching students how to teach themselves as an essential part of living in an information society, contending with new and unfamiliar tools also prepares students for their roles as empathic mediators in the workplace.

Supplementary Materials

The Past, Present, and Future of UX Empirical Research

Citation

Robinson, J. , Lanius, C., and Weber, R. (2017). The Past, Present, and Future of UX Research. Communication Design Quarterly, (5)3.

Abstract

Rethinking UX requires mapping trends in empirical research to find out how the field has developed. This study addresses that need by analyzing over 400 academic empirical studies published between 2000-2016. Our research questions are, “How have the artifacts, analysis, and methods of UX research changed since the year 2000?” and “Do scholars use research questions and hypotheses to ground their research in UX?” Our research found that services,
websites, and imagined objects/prototypes were among the most frequently studied artifacts, while usability studies, surveys, and interviews were the most commonly used methods. We found a significant increase in quantitative and mixed methods studies since 2010. This study showed that only 1 out of every 5 publications employed research questions to guide inquiry. We hope that these findings help UX as a field more accurately and broadly conceive of its identity with clear standards for evaluating existing research and rethinking future research opportunities as a discipline.

Supplementary materials

Collaborative Strategies for Distributed Teams: Innovation through Interlaced Collaborative Writing

Citation

Robinson, J., Dusenberry. L., Lawrence, H., and Hutter., L., (2016) Collaborative Strategies for Distributed Teams: Innovation through Interlaced Collaborative Writing. Professional Communication Conference (IPCC), 2016 IEEE International, 1-9. 10.1109/IPCC.2016.7740489.

Abstract

This paper discusses a case history of a successful, highly-productive team that collaborates on a regular basis, solely through virtual means. In the article, we will discuss the importance of psychological safety as a key foundation in collaborative work and the affordances that result from building and maintaining this foundation, including the co-creation of knowledge
and an increase in team productivity. We provide a postmortem of our collaborative writing process, which has resulted in a series of successful articles, presentations, and posters. In this case history, we will discuss our collaborative processes, highlighting significant decisions, choices, and failures; we will supplement the case with anecdotal evidence. Finally, we will provide a set of concrete strategies/guidelines to benefit others interested in distributed collaboration. Ultimately, we present this case as a model for collaborative writing and have termed this innovative process “interlaced collaborative writing.”

Supplementary materials

Look Before You Lead: Seeing Virtual Teams Through the Lens of Games

Citation

Robinson, J. (2016). Look Before You Lead: Seeing Virtual Teams Through the Lens of Games, Technical Communication Quarterly Special Issue, 25(3), 178-190. 10.1080/10572252.2016.118515.

Abstract

This study investigated virtual teams playing World of Warcraft to better understand how traditional leadership theories applied to virtual worlds and to identify the most valuable leadership traits. Raid members completed surveys that assessed their leadership capability under the competing values framework. In keeping with previous scholarship, the findings indicate that successful virtual teams value roles from task-based leadership and a factor analysis revealed that the behavioral complexity leadership theory operates differently in virtual environments.

Supplementary Materials

A Geographic and Disciplinary Examination of UX Empirical Research Since 2000

Citation

Robinson, J. & Lanius, C. (2018). A Geographic and Disciplinary Examination of UX Empirical Research Since 2000, ACM International Conference on the Design of Communication (SIGDOC ’18), 2018 ACM International, 1-8, https://doi.org/10.1145/3233756.3233930

Abstract

Defining the boundaries of a discipline is important work for helping others discover new avenues of research. In this research report, we share two new dimensions from an analysis of over 400 empirical user experience studies published between 2000 and 2016. The find-
ings of this comprehensive examination reveal patterns within the researcher’s methodological choices and artifacts of study across different countries and disciplines. Our research questions were: 1) Does the researcher’s region (continent) affect the method(s) or artifacts(s) studied? And 2) Does the researcher’s disciplinary identity impact their choice of method and sample size? This research reveals future avenues for examination and helps UX researchers consider new opportunities on the horizon.

Supplementary Materials

published version

Useful Usability in an Introductory Technical Communication Course: An Extended Case Study

Citation

Robinson, J. (Forthcoming) 1st Annual Louisiana Tech Usability Studies Symposium (LaTUSS 2019) Yearbook Edited Collection.

Abstract

User experience (UX) courses are increasingly housed in Technical and Professional Communication (TPC) programs due to the field’s dual rhetorical premise of shaping and evaluating products for the audience (Redish & Barnum, 2011). Our basic TPC service courses support a wide variety of majors making it a logical choice to include UX coursework. Unfortunately, few publications provide useful and actionable information for teaching these concepts. In this chapter, I provide a 1) pedagogical framework for teaching complex user-centered design concepts and 2) practice-level overview of how usability can be included in an introductory technical communication service course.

Supplementary Materials

manuscript

User Experience Methods in Research and Practice

Citation

Robinson, J., Lanius, C., and Weber, R. (Forthcoming). User Experience Methods in Research and Practice, Manuscript proposal accepted to JTWC special edition 2020.

Abstract

User experience (UX) researchers in technical communication and beyond still need a clear picture of the methods used to measure and evaluate UX. This article charts current UX methods through a systematic literature review of recent publications (2016-2018) and a survey of 52 UX practitioners in academia and industry. Our results indicate that contemporary UX research favors mixed methods and that usability testing is especially popular in both published research and our survey results. Other methods, such as surveys and ethnography, get widely used in published research but prompt varied reactions from survey respondents. This article presents these findings as a snapshot of contemporary research methods for user experience.

Supplementary Materials

Mapping the Route: How Academic and Programmatic Research Informed New UX Programs Presenters

Citation

Robinson, J., Weber, R., and Lanius, L. (2017). Mapping the Route: How Academic and Programmatic Research Informed New UX Programs Presenters. Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), 2017 Conference Proceedings. Savannah, GA.

Proceedings

This panel discusses how academic and questionnaire data informs the creation of a new Graduate Certificate and BA in User Experience. Joy Robinson begins with the results of a study that explores the multiple disciplinary identities of user experience research. Ryan Weber will address the survey results of potential student interest in UX curriculum. Candice Lanius will talk about how the data from students and researchers informs the curriculum development for programs. This panel advocates that administrators use both scholarly and programmatic research to understand student and disciplinary identities and then create curriculum that helps students prepare to meet industry demands. Using multiple data sources is especially important when developing interdisciplinary programs (like UX) that must attract a wide variety of students and meet the demands of several industries.

Joy Robinson will discuss data from a systematic review of publications retrieved from Google Scholar written within the last 17 years that referenced “user experience” research (Robinson, Lanius, Weber, 2017). For the study, we focused on the disciplinary identity of the field by examining areas that define fields (Rude, 2009) including research questions, methods, and objects of study. Our corpus included publications that spanned across more than 44 different disciplines and in 36 countries highlighting the fragmentation present in the UX field. Furthermore, our study confirms that UX research employs a broad array of methods, pointing to a splintered, highly practical, non-academic focus in the field. These findings will help UX as a field more accurately and broadly conceive of its identity and provide the academy with focused educational objectives for use in our programs as we seek to meet the needs of the growing practice of UX.

Ryan Weber will present data from locally distributed questionnaires designed to gauge interest in two new UX programs. The questionnaires collected demographic data and asked participants about courses they want to take, skills they hope to develop, and what might interest them in a UX education. After presenting the data itself, the speaker will put these questionnaire results in conversation with our academic research on the UX field to provide a richer understanding of the curricular needs of our students. The presentation offers attendees specific data on potential UX students alongside a theoretical discussion of the relationship between programmatic and academic data.

Candice Lanius will show how we create a bridge between existing professional practices and the desires of students even with the challenges of creating a new curriculum in an established college. By taking the data from the UX research project and questionnaire, we were able to mold a new curriculum that incorporates existing classes and crosses multiple departments to achieve the vision of an interdisciplinary UX program. Broadly speaking, our early data collection allowed us to add content modules to existing courses to share the costs of starting the program. We were also able to integrate our research goals with the creative aspects of the curriculum in a well-designed UX lab—the eValuation and User Experience (VUE) lab—that will prepare students for either research or professional settings (Spencer, 2015).

Works Cited:

Robinson, J., Lanius, C., Weber, R. (2017). The Past, Present, and Future of UX Empirical Research. Communication Design Quarterly, 5(3), 10-23.

Rude, C. D. (2009). Mapping the Research Questions in Technical Communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23(2), 174–215. http://doi.org/10.1177/1050651908329562

Spencer, C. (2015). Building your first UX lab: Lessons learnt. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/CraigSpencer4/building-your-first-ux-lab-presented-at-gds