by Public Relations
Cedarville University students gain real-world experience in the technical and professional communication program. Students in the 2011 Design of Manuals course created a manual that was nominated for the 2013 Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication award by the Conference on College Composition and Communication.
Melissa Faulkner, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, taught the Design of Manuals course. She and Monique Muncy, administrative assistant for the University Department of English, Literature and Modern Languages, first developed the idea of the Air National Guard Family Guide as they traveled back to Ohio from a conference at the White House. Hosted by first lady Michelle Obama, the conference focused on providing aid to military families. Faulkner and Muncy recognized how important this topic is, so they brainstormed ideas on how to help families as their service member served overseas.
Muncy, wife of Command Chief of the Air National Guard Chris Muncy, observed how spouses, parents and children of service members often lose access to information once their service member is deployed. Families have simple questions like how to file taxes without the service member’s signature or how to contact service members in case of an emergency.
“Thus the idea of writing a Family Guidebook,” described Faulkner, “answering practical questions and providing important information such as phone numbers and available services in a single text was born.”
Senior students Erin Bartley, Rachel Beachy, Megan Coffman, Katie Entner and John Michael Mumme and junior Emily Zuercher were tasked with creating a cohesive, comprehensive guide for families of Air National Guard members. The group was responsible for planning, designing, gathering information, writing, editing and publishing the manual.
The group decided everything about the manual, from what information to include to how to bind the final product. They met the needs of a real client and learned about the necessary collaboration skills for such a large project. “Students in my 2011 Design of Manuals course,” explained Faulkner, “got real practice using these skills and are thus better prepared for the workforce and life in general.”
She continued, “My students got to experience firsthand how writing, their chosen career, allows the opportunity for service and ministry. My students got to give something back to the U.S. military.”
Sandra Harner, senior professor of technical communications, discussed how important this type of project is for students. “Although the technical communicator is prepared to write many technical documents, the manual is the most well-known product that technical communicators all over the world deliver. In this course, we typically have a client, and the students get a real-world experience. Future employers of our students value this experience far more than a pretend classroom assignment.”
Cedarville University attracts 3,300 undergraduate, graduate and online students to more than 100 areas of study. Cedarville is a Christ-centered learning community recognized nationally for rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. Visit the University online at www.cedarville.edu.