Eports: Making the Passage from Academics to Workplace (D’Angelo, Maid)

29 Oct

This chapter explores the tension, in a technical communication graduate program, between academic expectations and “market” (practitioner) expectations when it comes to student outcomes. The focus, especially, is on technological proficiency–on tools–when it comes to graduation portfolios. The authors surveyed students and practitioners, and found that students wanted more training in technological tools, while there is some evidence that practitioners, especially managers, place higher value on higher-order skills. The authors themselves contend that tools are subordinate to theory, but acknowledge that the tension exists, and will probably continue to exist.

I well remember this tension as a professional communication graduate student at Clemson. At that time, I did not know Adobe CS at all, and I was in a visual rhetoric class with several students who had undergrad degrees in technical communication, and knew the software fairly well. As you know if you’ve used Photoshop or Illustrator (or Indesign or Dreamweaver), the learning curve can be fairly steep. I felt like I had been thrown into deep water, and I was puzzled by the resistance, on the part of my teachers, to teaching the software that they clearly expected us to use.

From an assessment perspective, this dovetails with my research interest in multimodality–what exactly are we assessing when we assess portfolios like this? The content? Familiarity with the tools? Some combination? And how, exactly, do we tell them apart, if that is even desirable?


Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Eports: Making the Passage from Academics to Workplace (D’Angelo, Maid)

  1. jasonecuster

    October 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I see a fairly obvious connection between this piece and my reading from the ePortfolio book as well (Rice). It would seem that both focus on the tension between academic work and the job market, and as Rice’s piece seemed to focus on the ways in which the Teaching Statement could be altered as something more than a 2-page document, I see the same kind of tension as what you’re describing here. In short, how do we balance academic expectations and the realities of the job market meaningfully? The expectations in the two contexts can be so radically different that it can be extremely frustrating. A digitally enhanced teaching statement, while potentially more effective, might actually serve as a handicap on the job market in certain institutions, yet is encouraged by theory in the field and fits with the kinds of digital scholarship that are becoming more and more prevalent. Negotiating the gaps between the accepted standards of academia and the job market (for both Rice and D’Angelo/Maid) provides a significant and worthy challenge going forward.

  2. jacobwcraig

    October 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I see connections between your chapter and “Mapping, Re-Mediating, and Reflecting.” The faculty at University of Washington switched from print portfolios to eportfolios. And many teachers felt like they needed to address the visual rhetoric of eportfolios in their teaching and in their assessment. But there was no criteria in the assessment instrument or in the larger department culture to assess the visual aspects of the portfolio. So teachers nodded to the visual aspects of the portfolio but could not grade it. I think that this chapter sounds interesting, because this is a generally technology-poor school. And they tried to do eportfolios without many of the technologies we associate with eportfolios — images, videos, links, etc.


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