Module 2: Key Theories in TPC and Their Associated Professional Activities

Purpose

After doing this assignment, you should be able to:

  • Learn how to identify theories that are key to a specific academic field
  • Learn to identify some of the key theories in TPC
  • Respond to current theoretical trends with innovation
  • Craft a well-constructed Theoretical Framework that provides a justification for innovation

Technologies

On this module, you are encouraged to use any technologies  available to you, including word processors, web browsers, and online applications (e-mail, chat, blogging, productivity, workflow, etc.). We will cover some of these technologies as we go along, but you can use any that you are proficient with or want to experiment with on this module.

You will definitely need access to the following technologies to complete this module:

  1. A working and recently-updated Internet browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari are recommended)
  2. A word-processing application (e.g. Word, Pages, Writer, etc.)
  3. A reliable email client (Outlook, Apple’s Mail, or Gmail are recommended)

Situation

Your assignment in this module is to construct a Theoretical Framework, or explanation/justification for innovation to one or more of the working assumptions of a field. Constructing a theoretical framework is an essential, but oft overlooked, element of theory-building. It is easy to know what is wrong in a field, but hard to suggest positive, constructive revision. That is exactly the job of a theoretical framework: to create a foundation for new exploration.

Deliverables You Must Produce for this Project

The following must be posted to Blackboard by the following date / time:

  • Homework #2 – 2/11/15 by the start of class
  • Cover Letter and Theoretical Framework – 3/2/15 by the start of class

The following must be posted to this course website by the following date / time:

  • A copy of your Theoretical Framework – 3/2/15 by the start of class
  • An answer to my theoretical question (see below) on the posts of each of your peers – 3/2/15 by Midnight ET

The following must be presented in class on the following date / time:

  • Lightning Talk – 2/18/15 during class

Audiences

The primary audience for your module is myself, an experienced theorist who will assess your framework for a critique and positive reconstruction of one or more working assumptions of the field of TPC should go. Fellow theorists in the field are an important audience to consider as well, however.

To Complete This Project (Workflow)

1) 2/11/15 by the Start of Class >>

Do Homework #2

2) 2/11/15 During Class >>

As I mentioned above, the key to a Theoretical Framework is providing a positive, reconstructive foundation and justification for innovation. You may decide during this reconstruction that you need new literature to help fuel your innovation. As a theorist, you should always be nervous about whether or not the innovation you are proposing has already been proposed, and if so, by who.

To remind you, below are some common means of finding sources for a literature review. Be sure to check out the TPC Library Page that the library has made for us via the Useful Links page.

  1. Library databases: databases that are specific to an area, like the humanities, may contain useful sources
  2. Specific journals: if you have been following a particular journal or journals and see like-minded researchers appearing year after year, you can mine these issues for pertinent sources, or even site entire issues if they help you make some important claim
  3. Field-specific databases: these databases are largely maintained outside of library control in order to represent fields that aren’t completely archived in any common database (again, see the TPC Library Page for examples of these)
  4. Internet search: Google Scholar and Academia.edu can give you glimpses into many different fields, but remember that since Technical and Professional Communication is not as established as most older disciplines, results will probably vary strongly from one search to the other, using these tools.
  5. People: Got a friend you know is an expert in a particular area? Why not ask him or her for some recommended readings to get yourself started?

3) 2/18/15 by the Start of Class >>

Everyone performs their Lightning Talks during class

4) 3/2/15 by the start of class >>

Revise all your documents and hand them in:

Use your preparation for your Lightning Talk to craft a Theoretical Framework:

  1. Introduction: an introduction is a more formal rendering of a Problem Statement. It is a more exact statement of “here’s what we know… here’s what we don’t know” concerning your theoretical trend. Basically, you should sum up where knowledge is regarding your trend, from your literature review, and then explain why fellow theorists should explore a new direction. This includes carefully defining all key terms. Typically, Theoretical Frameworks make extensive reference to sources to support important or out-on-a-limb claims.
  2. New direction/innovation: every Theoretical Framework worth its snuff attempts to suggest new directions via tweaking existing theories or even coining new ones. The key difference between a new direction and a simple coinage of a new term or theory is your careful articulation of the trends/directions that have led you to this new direction.
  3. Justification: every good Theoretical Framework also presents a rock solid justification for the shift in thinking it recommends. Why is this a timely shift based on your literature? What large-scale social forces (cultural, economic, institutional, etc.) necessitate this shift? How will this shift help create new approaches to problem-solving? The difference between a Justification and a Rationale, is that the former is careful to define all key terms, and to make sure all the pieces of your theory fit together, both ethically (why is this the best direction to take?) and philosophically (how does this new direction make logical, emotional, and ethical sense?).

6) 3/2/15 by Midnight ET >>

Post an answer to the following theoretical question as a comment on the posts of each person’s webpage on this course website.

Each module, I will ask you a theoretical question, which you must post a response to as a comment on the posts of each of your peers. Your theoretical question for this module is the following:

  • Looking at this author’s framework: What are holes in their framework (logical, emotional, ethical)? How can they repair these holes? What work do they need to do to shore up their developing theoretical foundation?

Grading Criteria

Can be found here: grading criteria for this module