In our technical writing classes at the University of Calgary (Coms 363), we
typically have students do final reports on a particular issue (chosen by them)
that may involve research in a real workplace setting. For example, I've had
students evaluate databases, employee manuals, web sites, written materials,
workplace layout or other services or issues related to workplaces where they
have worked or are currently working. Last year, two groups of students in my
course surveyed their fellow apartment dwellers in the hopes of getting a
recycling project and a kids' playground implemented. I think one or both of
these projects may actually have successfully resulted in those initiatives
coming to fruition. I always encourage my students to focus their reports on
real or potential problems or potential opportunities, with a real
(decision-making) reader in mind.
Some years, I also require or give students the option of interviewing someone
in their field or workplace about writing on the job and crafting their results
into a presentation or newsletter article shared with the class.
The only barrier to these kinds of assignments is the need to go through our
faculty research ethics committee since they involve "research with human
subjects"; still, I think it's worth the effort.
University of Calgary
Linda Schofield wrote:
> Do you (or does anyone you know) use field work exercises in your business
> communication courses?
> I have recently completed a pilot analytical report-writing course at
> Ryerson University that centred around a single question about written
> communication in the workplace. As part of my ongoing research I am
> trying to determine to what extent field work is used to teach business
> communication by instructors at post-secondary institutions in North
> America. That is, do instructors have their students conduct qualitative
> or quantitative primary research, such as interviewing, experiments and
> surveying? If so, how does this research fit into the
> course structure, and what are the perceived benefits of using this
> approach? Do respond as well (giving reasons) if you have stopped using, or
> have deliberately chosen not to use field work.
> You can reply to me at my academic address ([log in to unmask]).
> I look forward to your responses.
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To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
the annual conference, and publications, go to the Inkshed Web site at