WPAs as Tech/Prof Communicators

Because it struck me how similar my work is to Stephanie Wilson’s (p.99), I started to wonder what else my position could do when considering Ben Minson’s and Emily Cook’s. Therefore, I started wondering how I could support this claim: Much writing program administration (WPA) work is also TPC work, and I have much I can learn from a TPC approach to WPA work. For example, WPA and TPC work both

  • Include interdisciplinary, intersectional, and boundary/border work (Selfe & Selfe and Hart-Davidson);
  • Are difficult to define what their work is exactly (Cook, Cook, Minson, & Wilson);
  • Involve writing, working with others’ writing and teaching of writing, and representing writing in different spaces (Hart-Davidson and Cook, Cook, Minson, & Wilson); and
  • Have the bottom line of people (and Cook, Cook, Minson, & Wilson).

Also, there are verbs that seem key to both kinds of work: coordinate and transform (53); listen, participate, curate, curate (67); learning, engaging, leading (118).

From these three chapters, I started to imagine some of the possibilities a TPC lens could offer to WPA work. A few of these ideas include

  • Structures that can be used or adapted for working toward WPA being a more developed/established profession.
  • What may be some useful methodologies/methods from TPC for researching, articulating, and sharing WPA work? (For example, tag/text cloud approach described in Selfe & Selfe’s chapter.)
  • How may we use recursive and discursive TPC approaches applied to academic writing? Teaching academic writing? WPA work? Writing across the curriculum (WAC) and writing in the disciplines (WID) professional development (PD)?

Possible Applications of TPC Lens to WPA Work

Hart-Davidson’s work patters of technical communicators (TCs) are all part of WPA work, and his ideas offer mew and exciting ways to rethink of the role of WPAs. For example, TCs as informational designer requires the work that WPAs do as writers, researchers, theorists, and it is vital that WPAs can clearly communicate their ideas to stakeholders in their university (and beyond). Personally, I have been working to improve my skills as an informational designer in my role in our writing program.

WPA as advocate and as steward of writing activity at the university are also aspects of WPA work that we should continue to develop. One way to cultivate these roles that I find particularly interesting and useful are the practices to facilitate the abilities to write together (64-65). While the writing program does try to engage in work-display, work-representation, and work-optimization practices, I could work with others, like the writing program web coordinator, to find and create more opportunities for each for faculty from the writing program and also, especially, from across the disciplines.

Application to My WPA Work, Specifically

I am wondering how the kinds of maps and word clouds Selfe & Selfe discuss could be useful in the creation and construction of the Digital Archive or Writing Instruction (DAWI) that I am working on with Dr. Banks. Research and skills maps provide a useful frame for conceptualizing certain aspects of the DAWI and in its construction. Tag clouds are also an idea that I have been considering to facilitate the tags/categories of the artifacts in the DAWI; they would be a nice way to not only visually represent its content but also the amount of each category. Selfe and Selfe’s heuristic could definitely be used as an established and replicable method for its construction.

I also had a particular, embodied response to Hart-Davidson’s discussion of Sauer’s revised model of the role of technical communicators, their work, and the context(s) in which they do their work, which adds “…the ability to listen in a timely way and facilitate the spread of knowledge that originates… in the body of an individual…” (56). This section of the text sparked an excited burst of marginalia from me, resulting in a list of words as an attempt to articulate my excitement: critical, creative, flexible, empathy, risk, failure, embodiment.

Questions I Continue to Consider

  • What may be the value of using a PTC lens while developing WAC/WID PD?
  • What may be the challenges/benefits of using a TPC frame for reconsidering WPA work?
  • What may be key skills and competencies (chapter 3) of a WPA?
  • What may be key skills and competencies for writer in specific disciplines? Workplace contexts? How may we go about identifying them? How may threshold concepts play a role in this?
  • How may WPAs use the PD heuristic (106) for their professional develop and for WAC/WID PD participants?
  • [This one is the most exciting to me!] Where are the boundaries of WPA work? Why? What are border-crossing activities of WAC/WID work? Identities and artifacts? What can we learn from considering them? (All of these have been discussed in WPA work, but I am not sure how much they’ve been discussed specifically with a TCP lens.)
  • How can, should, may WPAs use a kind of professional development life cycle for their work and development? Stages and strategies? How could it be adapted for WPA , specifically? 
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