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Jan 27

Page history last edited by Jared 9 years, 4 months ago

Technical Writer's Workshop

We will split into groups of three, where you will work to review the projects from another group of three.  You will need to provide three phases (three is the number of the day) of written feedback linked to the author's roster page, on a new page called "{author's name}'s project one feedback".

Phase One: Analyzing Cover Letters and Giving (Critical and Generous) Feedback


Reading Task 1:  Mine for Content and Test its Persuasiveness

  1. Quickly Read over the cover letter once.  To help the author make some decisions, note your initial impressions about the letter (note anything that comes to mind: what stands out?  what seems strongest about the letter?  what seems weakest about the letter?).  Then list off four 'keywords' that stand out.
  2. Read it again and look to see if the letter answers the three key questions (if all three are relevant) on p. 46.  Note whether or not the questions are answered well by:
    1. conveying a suitable ETHOS and PATHOS (appropriate enthusiasm or desire, persuasive qualifications, experiences or credentials)
    2. conveying that the employer has been RESEARCHED, by noting a reader-centered fact (do they compare this position or company to another one? do they specifically note something about the position that the organization values, like a specific innovation, process or goal?)
  3. Read the letter again and consider if it meets the 5 goals in Anderson's Guideline Three (p. 47-48).  Does the overall organization of the letter seem well balanced in providing these, or does it out of balance? (i.e. Does it spend too much time with one objective rather than another?)
  4. Comment on the cover letter's effectiveness as an argument.  Does it:
    • Show readers the author possesses the most important skills s/he seeks (a good match for the organization's mission/goals and job requirements).
    • Convince readers that the company will benefit from hiring the applicant (how s/he will help them).
    • Include in each paragraph a strong reason why your employer should hire this person and how they will benefit from the relationship.




Reading Task 2: Editing for Style, Concision and Mechanics 

  1. Quietly read the letter out loud, and use your group expertise to focus on style (our only key focus here will be on using mainly the 'active voice'), concision(avoiding overly long or complex sentences or sections) and mechanics/grammar.  Do your best to leverage team expertise to help edit each document.  



Phase Two: Reading and Critiquing Resumes 


Reading Task 1: Scan the Resume

  1. The three things Anderson says employers look for in resumes are technical expertise, supporting abilities, and favorable personal qualities.  In a quick reading (less than one minute!), try to identify as many as you can of each of these (*note: supporting abilities can be social skills, communication skills or intellectual skills).  List these off as key words that stand out to you as readers.  Do these match up well with the list on Anderson's p.43?  Is there a notable gap?
  2. Read the audience analysis linked on the author's class roster page. Then scan the resume's headings only, before answering the following:
    1. To you, do these headings emphasize a skills resume or experience resume? 
    2. Do the headings direct you (easily and quickly) to a major accomplishment or impressive skill?
    3. What is the balance of employment history, skills and education?  Does this balance suit the position being applied for?
    4. Did their audience analysis seem sufficient?  Should they extend this in some way, and if so what should they be analyzing and why? 


Reading Task 2:  Critique Key Sections 

The three ways employers read resumes are (1) initial screening, (2) detailed examination of the most promising applications, and (3) reading beyond the resume in preparation for in-depth interviewing. 


Give a Detailed Examination of the Education Section and consider these key questions:

  1. Does this section highlight courses that are relevant (giving course titles and brief descriptions, not course numbers)?
  2. Does this section highlight a course or two that broadens the range of abilities the applicant brings to the job/internship?
  3. Does this section list any special projects, internships, or advance courses?
  4. Does it list any awards or academic honors? If so, look at tips 1 and 3 from "6 resume secrets backed by psychology" then make any necessary suggestions for improvement. 


Give a Detailed Examination of the Work Experience Section and consider these key questions:

  1. Does this section highlight the following Accomplishments from work or school projects that count as work experience?  Given the application, can they include anything recent or leave a space for this term's work?  Is this ethical? (p. 30)
  2. Does this section do enough to highlight Knowledge gained from work experience? (p. 30)
  3. Does this section do enough to highlight Responsibilities given at work? (p.30) 


Reading Task 3:  Editing for Organization, Style and Ethics

  1. Use Anderson's p.33 to read and critique the organization of bullet points in key sections.
    1. Do lists move in an order that makes sense chronologically or from most to least impressive?
    2. Do they use strong action verbs?  Are they too repetitive? 
    3. Do they use parallel construction?
  2. Given that we are drafting a 'future oriented' resume (including some information from what we're doing right now as students) does any of the information on the resume raise any of the five ethical considerations listed from p. 54?



Phase Three: User Test and Design Critique of Professional Websites

So far in this course we've paid attention to some basic design principles for building wiki pages, drawn from basic design principles discussed in Kramer & Bernhardt — including:


  1. seeing the page as a grid
  2. "active" use of white-space
  3. using text structures to guide the reader (including functional links)
  4. proportional fonts and spacing
  5. controlling style features (in this case, font and color) 
  6. use of images and color to enhance your message and readability   


Reader Task 1:  Judge the basic design and functionality of the website

  1. On the frontpage of the website, do you see the author trying to apply the above six design principles?  Just looking at the website, which of the six needs most improving and how?   
  2. Does this look like a website designed for long-term professional use, or as a website designed for this course project?  What else, if anything, needs changing? 


Reader Task 2:  Test the Site's Usability


Talk as a team, describing in plain language (as if your were thinking aloud) as you click around. Navigate the website and think of yourself as three potential employer trying to use the website, and just think of yourself as a friend trying to help out.  Write down everything you're thinking in rough notes, touching on each of the following:


With all usability tests you want to discover whether the user:

  • gets the point of the page(s) -- do you see a clear purpose for different pages?  Does the purpose make sense for our project and for long term use? What makes most sense to you as you click around?
  • understands the navigation system -- do you understand how to navigate to and from pages?  Is there anywhere you get lost?  Can you guess where to find things?
  • likes/dislikes the site -- is there anything you particularly like or dislike?  is there anything that makes you feel that the cite is amateurish?  



Phase Four:  Post-Workshop Memo (Short Writing Assignment 3 due Friday at noon) 

After you receive your feedback from the group, using p. 480 from Anderson as a guideline, you will each write a memo discussing the results of the workshop where you draw conclusions about how you developed revision strategies for your resume, cover letter and website.

  • The memo should be addressed to me.
  • Your "Subject" line should be "Results of Workshop and Peer Feedback for Project One"
  • Your "opening lines" should summarize the major revisions you will take on.
  •  The next section should be "Workshop Results" and it should detail every key critique of weakness, suggestion for improvement, or compliment of strength about your drafts
  • The last section should be "Revision Strategies and Procedures" and it should start with the 'highest order concerns' and work towards the 'lowest order concerns' for revision and editing, noting for each revision concern your strategy for improving your project.
  • The memo should be linked or uploaded to your wiki by Friday at noon.  



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