Anu Patel, Academic Director of Masters Program
Director, Master of Science in Professional and Technical Communication, NEIT
"I know what the retention rate is for my program, but what are my students expected to be able to do once they graduate?"
Preparing for an Institutional Program Review initiated by NEIT's Provost of all existing programs, Anu has been leading a small committee in preparing documentation for the review. The committee has gathered demographic data on the program's student and faculty population to serve the auditing requirements of the review process. In addition to these performance indicators, Anu wants to gather information for assessment of student learning. She has known for some time that her committee must establish and clearly articulate learning outcomes for graduates of the master's program in technical communication. However, this task seems daunting, and she has been putting it off.
Last week she emailed Charlotte Moss, her dissertation committee chair and former mentor asking if the master's program at Michigan Tech, her doctoral alma mater, had developed a set of learning outcomes. This morning, Charlotte's reply arrived: "Funny you should ask. That's on our agenda this year too. One of my colleagues has suggested we use the STC's new body of knowledge website to take inventory of what we're covering now and what we may need to consider adding."
Scenario of Use: Anu Patel
1. With the deadline for NEIT's university-wide program reviews looming, Anu decides to follow up on her mentor's advice and see what STC has to offer. She goes to the STC website and sees a link to the Technical Communication Knowledge Portal.
The TCKP could sponsor an online mini-society of technical communications educators by providing a directory of programs and professors in the field. Like Dr. Madison, Dr. Patel needs to be able to see what the results of existing programs are-what are the employment rates and experiences of graduates? What are corporations, government, and NGOs requiring of technical communicators? She needs to be able to see studies of job descriptions, or to search a database of actual TC job descriptions, similar to some of the features STC offers to its members, perhaps through a special subscription, via links directly to those resources.
An indexed database in both academic literature and practical information on job descriptions, best practices, and new technologies and techniques (e.g., DITA) in real-world terms would facilitate speedier searches for Dr. Patel and mesh well with her practice-focused approach to shaping curricula.