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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on

Issue 2 • Date June 2012

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Displaying Results 1 - 14 of 14
  • [Front cover]

    Page(s): C1
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  • IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication publication information

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  • Table of contents

    Page(s): 105
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  • TIP-EXE: A Software Tool for Studying the Use and Understanding of Procedural Documents

    Page(s): 106 - 121
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    Research problem: When dealing with procedural documents, individuals sometimes encounter comprehension problems due to poor information design. Researchers studying the use and understanding of procedural documents, as well as technical writers charged with the design of these documents, or usability specialists evaluating their quality, would all benefit from tools allowing them to collect real-time data concerning user behavior in user-centered studies. With this in mind, the generic software Technical Instructions Processing-Evaluations and eXperiments Editor (TIP-EXE) was designed to facilitate the carrying out of such studies. Research questions: Does document design, and specifically the matching or mismatching of the terms employed in a user manual and on the corresponding device, affect the cognitive processes involved in the comprehension of procedural instructions? Can we use a software tool like TIP-EXE to assess the impact of document design on the use and understanding of a procedural document? Literature review: A review of the methods employed to study either the use of procedural documents or their cognitive processing, and to evaluate the quality of these documents, revealed the lack of tools for collecting relevant data. Methodology: TIP-EXE software was used to set up and run a laboratory experiment designed to collect data concerning the effect of document design on the performance of a task. The experiment was conducted with 36 participants carrying out tasks involving the programming of a digital timer under one of three conditions: “matching instructions,” “mismatching instructions,” “mismatching instructions + picture”. Based on a click-and-read method for blurred text, TIP-EXE was used to collect data on the time the users spent reading the instructions, as well as the time spent handling the timer. Results and discussion: Results show that “matching instructions” (when the te- ms employed in the user manual match the terms on the device) enhance user performance. This instructional format results in less time spent consulting the instructions and handling the device, as well as fewer errors. This research shows that TIP-EXE software can be used to study the way in which operating instructions are read, and the time spent consulting specific information contained therein, thereby revealing the effects of document design on user behavior. View full abstract»

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  • Style Congruency and Persuasion: A Cross-cultural Study Into the Influence of Differences in Style Dimensions on the Persuasiveness of Business Newsletters in Great Britain and the Netherlands

    Page(s): 122 - 141
    Save to Project icon | Request Permissions | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (763 KB) |  | HTML iconHTML  

    Research problem: The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether style congruency on the dimensions succinct-elaborate and instrumental-affective influenced the persuasiveness of business newsletters in the Netherlands and Great Britain. Research question: Is a writing style more persuasive in a country with cultural preferences that are congruent with this writing style? Literature review: The purpose of the literature review was to present two theoretical frameworks for investigating cross-cultural differences in style preferences. Theories about cross-cultural differences in value orientations show that value orientations can be linked to cross-cultural differences in persuasion. Theories about cross-cultural differences in communication styles show that preferences for particular communication styles can be linked to cultural value orientations. Methodology: Two quantitative experimental studies were conducted among 344 business-to-business customers of a company in the Netherlands and Great Britain. Using seven-point scales, participants evaluated different versions of a newsletter on comprehensibility, attractiveness, and intention to order goods. Statistical analyses included general linear model (GLM) repeated measures and two-way ANOVAs. Results and discussion: Findings reveal limited differences between the Dutch and British participants in preferences for communication styles. Consequently, it may not be worthwhile for organizations to adjust the style of their documents to preferences in different cultures. A limitation of the current study was that it only investigated style preferences for one particular business genre (i.e., newsletters). Future research should investigate stylistic preferences in other business genres and in other cultures. View full abstract»

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  • Facilitating Knowledge Sharing Through a Boundary Spanner

    Page(s): 142 - 155
    Multimedia
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    Research problem: The purpose of the study was to explore how a boundary spanner can successfully facilitate knowledge sharing across functional and geographical boundaries. The main research questions are: (1) Does matching the complexity of knowledge boundary with the knowledge-sharing process lead to successful knowledge sharing? and (2) What are the key factors that influence a boundary spanner when deciding how to facilitate the knowledge sharing across functional and location boundaries? Literature review: The purpose of the literature review was to better understand the existing knowledge-sharing frameworks. Finding no framework that can directly address the research problem, the researchers decided to build on the closest one which is a framework for knowledge sharing across functional boundaries. By not taking into consideration knowledge sharing across location boundaries, the framework assumes collocated and synchronous knowledge-sharing interaction. To understand the potential supporting media for knowledge-sharing interaction across functional and geographical boundaries, the researchers consulted the Media Naturalness Theory. Media naturalness is the ability of the media to support a sense of collocated and synchronous interaction. Methodology: The researchers conducted a qualitative exploratory case study in the IT department of a Fortune 500 multinational finance company. Researchers selected a boundary spanner and observed her facilitation of knowledge-sharing interactions for four months. A total of 78 knowledge-sharing interaction logs were collected during the period of observation from five data sources: wiki, email, instant messaging, teleconference, and face-to-face interactions. Data analysis was carried out through template coding. Results and discussion: The researchers found that matching the knowledge boundary with the knowledge-sharing process is an essential yet insufficient condition for successful knowledge sharing. A boundary spanne- should also pay attention to the boundary objects and media used to support the knowledge-sharing interaction. Spatial dispersion and knowledge commonality between the source/recipient and boundary spanner affected the media selection which, in turn, influenced the selection of the boundary objects. The implication of the study is that there are three important factors that the boundary spanner should consider when deciding how to facilitate knowledge sharing (i.e., knowledge boundary, spatial dispersion, and knowledge commonality). The main limitations of the study were the relatively short observation period of the knowledge-sharing interactions via a boundary spanner. Future research should quantitatively validate the proposed optimal knowledge-sharing designs to test the generalizability of the findings with a survey and profile deviation analysis. View full abstract»

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  • Introduction to the special section: Navigating the boundaries in global training and education: new literacies, competencies, and practices

    Page(s): 156 - 159
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    The two tutorials and one research article in this special section focus on navigating the boundaries in global training and education. Two additional papers on this topic will appear in the next issue (September 2012). View full abstract»

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  • Different Approaches to Similar Challenges: An Analysis of the Occupational Cultures of the Disciplines of Technical Communication and Training Tutorial

    Page(s): 160 - 174
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    Problem: Perhaps it is presumptuous of technical communicators to assume that, because some of their skills that might be employed in developing and delivering training materials, that those skills alone are qualifications to work in training, much less the source by which the processes of Training might be examined. Using data from one survey and one interview-based study of the work of Technical communication and Training groups, as well as participation on committees responsible for certification examinations for technical communicators and trainers, this tutorial analyzes differences in the occupational cultures of the two fields. Key concepts: The work differs: technical communicators produce content that explains how to perform tasks; trainers produce programs that develop skills that a third party can verify. To do so, technical communicators follow a process that emphasizes writing and production; trainers follow a process that emphasizes the analysis of intended goals and evaluation of whether those goals have been achieved. The guiding philosophy of Technical communication is usability; the guiding philosophy of Training is performance. Although both disciplines are rooted in cognitive psychology, the primary intellectual roots of Technical communication are in rhetoric and composition, while the primary intellectual roots are in education. The preferred research methods of Technical communication are critical; the preferred research methods of trainers are empirical qualitative and quantitative methods. Key lessons: As a result, Technical communication professionals and researchers who want to work in training should approach the field in a culturally appropriate way by (1) recognizing distinctions between a communication product and a training program, (2) recognizing distinctions in work processes, (3) recognizing distinctions in language, (4) recognizing differences in values, and (5) acknowledging that an academic discipline of training exists. View full abstract»

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  • Incorporating user appropriation, media richness, and collaborative knowledge sharing into blended e-learning training tutorial

    Page(s): 175 - 184
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    Problem: E-learning has become a standard in many organizations to train its workforce and build an information network that encourages collaborative knowledge sharing. As a result of technological and global factors, the complexity of delivering successful e-learning courses and products is an increasing challenge for subject matter experts and instructional designers. Online training courses have become blended learning environments, comprised of synchronous and asynchronous modes of delivery, multiple media forms, and global and localized audiences to meet the demands and flexibility it affords. Successful blended e-learning is more than simply mixing online and live instructional modes; it can also include a combination of multiple media types, technologies, and communication modes. E-learners have become multimodal learners, with the ability to adapt to multiple media forms, environment types, and tools. Key concepts: Understanding the complex interaction of technology use, collaborative knowledge sharing, and media can facilitate more effective communication exchanges between instructor, content, and learner. Some concepts that help describe the complexities of blended e-learning include technological appropriation, technological accommodation, media richness, media synchronicity and naturalness, blended e-learning, and collaborative knowledge sharing. Key lessons: Research trends suggest learners appropriate technology and media forms, and evaluate usefulness based on a range of factors, including richness, experience, perception, and recommendation. Blended learning environments add complexity by mixing spatial (distributed and colocated) and temporal (asynchronous and synchronous) components with increased levels of collaborative knowledge sharing. From these research trends, the following best practices for developing e-learning are recommended: (1) consider media richness factors and user preferences in media and tool selection; (2) encourage personaliza- ion to foster trust; (3) facilitate collaborative knowledge sharing both inside and outside the training setting; (4) balance roles as knowledge facilitator, coach, and information manager; and (5) invest additional time in both course and instructor preparation. Implications: Blended e-learning presents a number of challenges for subject matter experts and designers of instructional content. Subject matter experts must consult with instructional designers and consider the different media platforms, environments, and formats that optimize the best pairing of content with delivery mode and media type. Content experts and designers must collaborate on methods of effectively adapting course content to account for perceived richness, user experience, and task complexity. Instructors must also invest additional time in planning and accounting for user preferences and communication practices in online training. View full abstract»

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  • A Study of Engineering Students' Intercultural Competence and Its Implications for Teaching

    Page(s): 185 - 201
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    Research problem: The purpose of this study is to examine US engineering students' intercultural competence and its pedagogical implications. Three research questions are addressed: (1) What are engineering students' levels of awareness and sensitivity toward intercultural communication? (2) What are their perceived needs in learning intercultural communication? (3) Given these findings, what are some useful approaches and methods to teach intercultural communication in the engineering communication service class? Literature review: The literature review examines current studies on US engineering students' intercultural competence and establishes the scope of the study: intercultural awareness and sensitivity. The researcher consulted literature in intercultural studies, international education, and engineering education. Methodology: The researcher conducted a mixed method study, using surveys, textual analysis, and interviews. Two-hundred seventy-two engineering undergraduates at a Midwestern public university participated in the study. Participants were recruited from an engineering communication class. Data were collected through survey instruments, written responses to cross-cultural dialogs and critical incidents, and interviews. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed. Results and discussion: Participants exhibited vague and passive awareness of intercultural communication, average to high intercultural sensitivity (subject to self-assessment and social desirability bias), and partial acceptance of intercultural communication education. Based on these findings, the researcher suggests a cultural-general approach to teaching intercultural competence in engineering communication service classes. The study is limited to research participants at one institution and two aspects of intercultural competence. Future studies can involve diverse research participants, address more aspects of intercultural competence, and examine the use of cultura- -general teaching methods in the classroom. View full abstract»

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  • IEEE Xplore Digital Library [advertisement]

    Page(s): 202
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  • 2012 IEEE membership form

    Page(s): 203 - 204
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  • IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication information for authors

    Page(s): C3
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  • IEEE Professional Communication Society Information

    Page(s): C4
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Aims & Scope

The IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to applied research on professional communication--including but not limited to technical and business communication. It has been published since 1957 by the Professional Communication Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Saul Carliner
Concordia University