Click here for the CIW 2013 report.
This report grows out of one of the most successful assignments in NC State’s
professional communication courses. The assignment asks students to interview
someone who has a job they would like to have in five years about the writing and
speaking tasks associated with that job.
Students write up the results of their interviews, including quotations from the
professionals about their on-the-job communication practices. Often, students are
surprised to discover how much time technical and business professionals spend
writing each week.
Most of what students discover in these interviews confirms national survey results
from the past 30 years, and from our own survey results over the past 17 years.
However, the impact of first-hand information from a role model is far greater than
that from a teacher or published text.
We have harnessed the power of large numbers three times before, during the
spring semesters of 1996 and 2001 and the fall semester of 2006. This fourth survey
conducted during the spring semester of 2012 provides a follow-up study. In all four
semesters, faculty in the English Department coordinated their assignments so that
the results of many interviews could be compiled and compared.
This assignment is not only a successful teaching strategy; it can also be a valuable
source of information for instructors and curriculum planners as they try to keep up
with the changing practices and problems of the workplace. We have found that
when many students gather the same kind of information at the same time, we
acquire information that has statistical power as well as anecdotal richness.
Dr. David Covington
Professional Writing Program Director