I think this approach is quite widespread, in the U.S. at any rate. Here
at Purdue, for example, in our professional/business/technical writing
courses, it's common practice for instructors to have teams of students
take on communication-related projects for "real-world" client
organizations in the community. The team will negotiate the work to be
done with a contact person in the organization, carry out the necessary
research (onsite observations, interviews, document analysis, etc.) and
analysis, and then produce a recommendation report to be delivered to
The client organizations can be community groups, nonprofit
organizations, campus administrative units, or business firms. And the
projects that teams take on can include a wide range of tasks, anything
from, for example, designing/redesigning a website for the client
organization, to producing various types of documentation, to solving
systemic communication problems among employees, to producing a proposal
for government funding.
The results can be very good. If all goes reasonably well, the team
members will have had the experience of accomplishing a professional
piece of work for an outside-of-school client/audience.
Hope this is helpful.
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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