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.

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.
> Cheers,
> Linda

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