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The Process Approach and Our Profession

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Early in my career, I spent a significant amount of my time trying to teach college freshmen how to become more effective writers. Most of them approached the course with fear, loathing, or both. I always introduced the course by explaining that the reason for their attitude about writing was that no one had ever explained to them how to do it; everyone seemed to assume that writing either came naturally or, more often, did not.

I approached the job of teaching writing by trying to demythologize the task. Having read the work of writing researchers like Linda Flower, I described to my students the processes that many successful writers use to produce a written product. Then I encouraged them to emulate those processes and provided them with lots of opportunities for guided practice.

Some of them believed me, tried the approach I advocated, and generally agreed that it increased their comfort level and also resulted in better writing. Most, however, persisted in the approach they had always used: staring at a blank page or computer screen until inspiration or desperation caused them to collect the requisite number of words to fulfill the assignment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2000

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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