Technical writing redesign and assessment: A pilot study

Gaye Bush Winter

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare scores on writing assignments from traditional, fully online courses in technical writing to pilot, hybrid courses at a southern university. A total of 232 students' assignments were compared in this study. All writing assignments were scored by six trained instructors of English using the same five point rubric. The pilot, hybrid classes had a total of 97 writing assignments. The students were divided into three disciplines including business, humanities, and sciences. In the pilot, hybrid classes, there were 18 students (or 19%) enrolled in a business major. Five students were enrolled in humanities, 5% of the 97 total and 74 students (or 76% were enrolled in the sciences. The traditional, fully online classes had a total of 135 scored writing assignments. Thirty-nine students (or 29%) of the total enrolled were business majors. Nineteen students were humanities majors, 14% of the 135 student total. And 77 students were enrolled in science majors, 57% of the 135 student total for the traditional, fully online technical writing classes. Descriptive statistics were used to identify each set of responses. A MANOVA was used to compare writing assignment scores in the traditional, fully online classes to the pilot, hybrid classes. The results were significant in the concerns and organization categories. The study showed that the traditional, fully online classes already in place at the university had a higher percentage of students scoring in the very good and excellent rubric scores than the pilot, redesigned hybrid classes. The category of concerns of which the traditional class scored higher was determined by the question: In terms of attending to the needs and concerns of its readers, how successful is this document overall? The category of organization of which the traditional class scored higher was determined by the question: In terms of overall organization and following the conventions of the memo/email genre, how successful is this document? No significant findings were identified for expression or overall quality.