Challenging Students in a Professional Writing Classroom to Engage Critically in Stakeholder Analysis

Authors: Bryan Kopp, Marie Moeller, Ryan Friesen, English Department, UW-La Crosse Discipline: English Submission Date: June 12, 2015 Course Name: Introduction to Professional Writing

Course Description: ENG 335: Introduction to Professional Writing is designed as the introductory course to the Professional Writing minor at UW-L. It is, more so than other courses in the minor, a theoretical course designed to introduce students to the field of professional writing and the conversations that circulate and need to inform practices of professional writing. Thus, the course covers discussions such as the intersections of gender, race, class, ability, risk, advocacy, and other content with professional writing practices and theories. One major thread of the course is ethics in professional writing—it is within this discussion at the beginning of this course where the lesson study took place. This course is a 300-level junior/senior course in professional writing, capped at 18 students, with students who have majors from all over campus—as it is a professional writing minor course. The lesson was one course period long, and took place in a discussion-based computer classroom in WING.

Abstract: Goals for the Activity

  1. Offer students an opportunity to engage thoughtfully and critically in a stakeholder analysis activity.
  2. Engage in the complexity of responding in writing, post-stakeholder analysis, vis-à-vis dialogue with their group members.
  3. Employ varying concepts and theoretical understandings of professional writing in undertaking, analyzing, and responding to a professional writing problem.

Lesson Plan:
Prior to this course, students had been discussing the history of the field of professional writing. This moment was where the field was turning both to the social and the ethical implications of the work of professional writing. Prior to this particular day, students read a piece by Steven Katz regarding the use of rhetoric in the German holocaust—the piece articulates how professional writing can be seen as a commitment of the time in which it is generated, as well as a vehicle that can drive commitments, as well.

With that background, students were to engage with, negotiate about, and then find a way to respond to the form in Appendix A, and were grouped in 3 groups to do so.

Major Findings:
Students were able to engage with the form in intellectual ways, and were able to see multiple perspectives in response to the form. As the instructor, Marie was happy to see those things happening. The one major finding we came away with, though, was that it is clearly difficult for students to not identify with the institutional role they were given, and oriented themselves not to a broader context of ethical implications of this form, but very easily took on the role of the institution, even after having read the article by Katz and talking about how difficult it is to step outside the bounds and consider all aspects of a situation, and their own place and responsibility of perhaps changing the institution rather than the individuals. As an instructor, Marie will be continuing to work on making such implications clear in her writing classes.

Challenging Students in a Professional Writing Classroom to Engage Critically in Stakeholder Analysis Lesson Study Final Report