Beyond Words: A Post-Process Business Writing Pedagogy
Lloyd, Adam M.
Wible, Scott A
MetadataShow full item record
The goals of this dissertation are twofold: to identify shortcomings in contemporary business writing pedagogies that result in students being insufficiently prepared for the writing challenges of their post-college careers and, to develop an alternative pedagogy that addresses these problems. To achieve these ends I review the recent history of business writing pedagogy, examine 105 business communication syllabi from U.S. colleges, and perform a close textual analysis of the five textbooks most commonly used in these courses. I then perform a communication audit of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network as an exemplar of how communication functions in a workplace setting. Armed with this data I assert that contemporary pedagogical models do not adequately account for the atomistic complexity and fluidity of actual workplace discourse: the historical and organizational factors that affect every discursive interaction, the personal preferences and individual relationships that determine success with each new dialogic engagement, the very nature of communication as uncodifiable and paralogical, or the generative, living genres that allow these activity systems to function. “Beyond Words” presents a new pedagogy that accomplishes several objectives: first, it accounts for the weaknesses of current business writing pedagogies. Second, it addresses the challenges of contemporary workplace communication, in which writing expectations are constantly evolving and progressively intricate. Third, it incorporates the principles of post-process theory—that writing is public, interpretive, and situated—and draws on aspects of activity theory and ethnographic analysis that remain consistent with a post-process framework but add depth to the holistic conception of discourse practices. Fourth, rather than trying to teach students how to write—which post-process theory argues is impossible—it focuses on helping students to “read” the situated contexts of what are commonly considered discourse communities as evidence of prior communicative theories so as to better triangulate the passing hermeneutic strategies of each of their interlocutors. Most importantly, this pedagogy prepares students for the increasingly complex, unstable, diverse writing conditions of the contemporary workplace and empowers them to better analyze and adapt to whatever communications challenges they face throughout their professional careers.