64.2, May 2017

Recent and Relevant

Lyn Gattis, Editor

The following articles on technical communication have appeared recently in other journals. The abstracts are prepared by volunteer journal monitors. If you would like to contribute, contact Lyn Gattis at LynGattis@MissouriState.edu.

“Recent & Relevant” does not supply copies of cited articles. However, most publishers supply reprints, tear sheets, or copies at nominal cost. Lists of publishers’ addresses, covering nearly all the articles we have cited, appear in Ulrich’s international periodicals directory.


Quest for the happy ending to Mass Effect 3: The challenges of cocreation with consumers in a post-certeauian age

Reardon, D. D., Wright, D., & Malone, E. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 42–58. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1257742

“The controversy surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3 serves as a case study of a company’s rejection of cocreation with customers. The game designers and players battled for control of the aesthetic space of the game. The company failed to resolve their conflict effectively, allowing players to use social media to transform tactical action into strategic action. This case study has implications for technical communicators who increasingly are collaborating with users in cocreative relationships.”

Rhonda Stanton


Communication: Empirically testing behavioral integrity and credibility as antecedents for the effective implementation of motivating language

Holmes, W., & Parker, M. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 70–82. doi: 10.1177/2329488416675450

“Motivating language theory . . . is a leadership communication theory focused on the strategic use of leader oral language. Walk and talk alignment is a main pillar of motivating language theory. As such, within the field of educational leadership, [the authors] hypothesize that behavioral integrity and credibility are required in order for motivating language to occur. In this study, a survey was administered to teachers, from 2011 to 2014, at a Title I elementary school to gauge the motivating language use of the principal. [The authors] empirically tested the ability of behavioral integrity . . . and credibility . . . to predict the principal’s motivating language use. There were statistically significant correlations between behavioral integrity and motivating language, credibility and motivating language, and between behavioral integrity and credibility. In each year, behavioral integrity and credibility contributed significantly to the predication of the principal’s motivating language use. Behavioral integrity and credibility are integral to a leader’s use of motivating language. [The authors] discuss the results and implications for employees and organizations, along with ideas for future research.”

Katherine Wertz

Communication: Sine qua non of organizational leadership theory and practice

Ruben, B., & Gigliotti, R. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 12–30. doi: 10.1177/2329488416675447

“Much has been written about the nature of leadership communication; however, the linkage often is limited to a view of communication as a strategic mechanism—or technique—to be employed by leaders in efforts to achieve specific purposes. This limited conceptualization of leadership communication does not fully capture the pervasive role of communication, and it fails to provide a nuanced view of the role communication plays in organizational dynamics, and in business settings, in particular. This article begins with an overview of various dichotomies raised in the leadership literature that have tended to impede rather than advance our understanding. [The authors] then discuss the evolution of thinking about communication and conclude with a discussion of several principles that can enhance contemporary organizational and business communication theory and practice.”

Katherine Wertz

Leading by tweeting: Are deans doing it? An exploratory analysis of tweets by SEC business school deans

Naidoo, J., & Dulek, R. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 31–51. doi: 10.1177/2329488416675448

“This study examines the extent to which the leaders of business schools engage with Twitter to reach diverse audiences, the possible links between Twitter usage and the ranking of the Dean’s respective business college, and the linguistic/stylistic approaches adopted. [The authors] employed sentiment analysis to examine the linguistic approaches among the various tweets from the Dean’s account. The findings of the study suggest speaking at stakeholders from a public microblog may not be the most effective way to connect with them. Notwithstanding, biological and cognitive constraints limit the economy of attention and relationships in an online world.”

Katherine Wertz

Reddit’s “Explain like I’m five”: Technical descriptions in the wild

Pflugfelder, E. H. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 25–41. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1257741

“The genre of technical description is seeing a resurgence, particularly in online locations, where new, hybrid versions have emerged. The technical explanation, one such hybrid, proliferates on the social message board site Reddit and the message board ‘Explain Like I’m Five,’ in which answers to complex questions are crowdsourced. This study examines 233 such questions and their answers, identifying the effort needed to generate technical explanations as distributed and coordinative technical communication work.”

Rhonda Stanton

Senders’ bias: How can top managers’ communication improve or not improve strategy implementation?

Shimizu, K. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 52–69. doi: 10.1177/2329488416675449

“As environmental change accelerates and future uncertainty increases, implementation of strategy inherently involves continuous adjustment and modification. To meet the need for further research on the critical role of communication, this article contributes to the literature by examining the relationship between communication and strategy implementation. [The author] propose[s] that senders’ bias, which refers to the overestimation of the quality of communication (i.e., degree of sharing) with organizational members by senders (i.e., top managers), is a fundamental implementation problem. Thus, top managers’ perceived degree of communication with organizational members is expected to have limited effects on the degree of value sharing and resulting effectiveness of strategy implementation up to a certain threshold point. Additionally, [the author] argue[s] that the relationship between top managers’ perceived degree of communication and strategy implementation are moderated by the type of communication (i.e., whether storytelling is used in the communication), communication medium (i.e., the use of e-mails), and top managers’ openness to the voices of organizational members. The idea of senders’ bias should provide insights into why many organizations struggle with strategy implementation.”

Katherine Wertz

Situational determinants of cognitive, affective, and compassionate empathy in naturalistic digital interactions

Powell, P. A., & Roberts, J. (2017). Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 137–148. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.024

“Empathy is apparent in computer-mediated communication (CMC), yet little is known about the situational predictors of empathic responses when interacting digitally. [The authors] used a diary methodology to explore: (1) the degree three types of empathy (cognitive, affective, and compassionate) are experienced in students’ everyday (text- and image-based) dyadic digital interactions; (2) which situational factors are important for (different types of) empathy in CMC; and (3) how empathy reported in everyday CMC affects participants’ perceptions of their empathy in CMC and face-to-face (FtF) contexts. One hundred student volunteers (50 women, Mage = 22.57 years) completed a ‘digital interaction diary’ for three consecutive days, yielding 1939 observations. Participants reported significantly more cognitive than affective empathy, and significantly greater affective than compassionate empathy. Several situational variables (e.g., number of communications, recipient) were related to empathy overall, while others (e.g., subject, mood) contributed to discrete contextual profiles for the empathy subtypes. Empathy reported in the diaries predicted a more favourable ratio of perceived CMC to FtF empathy, particularly for those lower in baseline trait empathy. These findings help elucidate the multidimensional experience of empathy in CMC interactions.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Assessing attitudes toward content and design in Alibaba’s dry goods business infographics

Zhang, Y. (2017). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 31(1), 3062. doi: 10.1177/1050651916667530

“Alibaba’s Graphic Media (GM) is the first and only Internet content source that uses infographics to educate Chinese e-commerce merchants. This study investigates target audiences’ attitudes toward GM infographics. Two focus groups perceived GM as a practical information source that aided them in decision making and daily business operations. They preferred viewing graphics to texts and particularly favored statistical graphics. They also identified issues with viewing GM infographics on mobile devices. Based on the study’s findings, the author proposes three areas that communicators can address when designing infographics in similar contexts: content, usability, and overall visual appeal.”

Sean C. Herring

Orthographic processing and reading

Grainger, J. (2016). Visible Language, 50(2). [online] [doi: none]

The author of this study writes that “processing letter identities and letter positions occupies a central interface between visual and linguistic processing during reading. This is primarily due to the fact that reading words in languages that use an alphabetic script is essentially letter-based. Information about letter identities and letter positions provides the gateway to whole-word written representations, to morphemes such as prefixes and suffixes, and to sound based representations.” The study begins with a summary of “work on letter identification processes before describing mechanisms for parallel letter processing during single word reading.” The article concludes by describing “recent work demonstrating parallel processing of written information spanning several words during sentence reading.”

Lyn Gattis

Reading digital with low vision

Legge, G. E. (2016). Visible Language, 50(2). [online] [doi: none]

“Reading difficulty is a major consequence of vision loss for more than four million Americans with low vision. Difficulty in accessing print imposes obstacles to education, employment, social interaction and recreation. In recent years, research in vision science has made major strides in understanding the impact of low vision on reading, and the dependence of reading performance on text properties. The ongoing transition to the production and distribution of digital documents brings about new opportunities for people with visual impairment. Digital documents on computers and mobile devices permit customization of print size, spacing, font style, contrast polarity and page layout to optimize reading displays for people with low vision. As a result, we now have unprecedented opportunities to adapt text format to meet the needs of visually impaired readers.”

Lyn Gattis

What is an information source? Information design based on information source selection behavior

Söderlund, C., & Lundin, J. (2016). Communication Design Quarterly, 4(3), 12–19. [doi: none]

“This article examines information source selection behavior among maintenance technicians and how this behavior might influence the design of technical information. For this entry, ‘maintenance technicians’ are individuals who maintain machine equipment (e.g., generators or bearings) in industrial enterprises, and this process includes the troubleshooting of problems and the repairing of machine equipment. In this entry, the authors use a review of the literature on information source selection behavior to discuss core concepts within the field of source selection behavior. Three of the main concepts examined are ‘information,’ ‘information source,’ and ‘source preference criteria.’ These core concepts function as a frame of reference for discussing how maintenance technicians might select information sources to perform maintenance activities. The authors also use these concepts to review why certain sources are selected for use over others. The results tentatively suggest maintenance technicians prefer information sources that can be adapted to specific workplace contexts.”

Lyn Gattis


Instructor presence in instructional video: Effects on visual attention, recall, and perceived learning

Wang, J., & Antonenko, P. D. (2017). Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 79–89. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2017.01.049

“In an effort to enhance instruction and reach more students, educators design engaging online learning experiences, often in the form of online videos. While many instructional videos feature a picture-in-picture view of instructor, it is not clear how instructor presence influences learners’ visual attention and what it contributes to learning and affect. Given this knowledge gap, this study explored the impact of instructor presence on learning, visual attention, and perceived learning in mathematics instructional videos of varying content difficulty. Thirty-six participants each viewed two 10-minute-long mathematics videos (easy and difficult topics), with instructor either present or absent. Findings suggest that instructor attracted considerable visual attention, particularly when learners viewed the video on an easy topic. Although no significant difference in learning transfer was found for either topic, participants’ recall of information from the video was better for easy topic when instructor was present. Finally, instructor presence positively influenced participants’ perceived learning and satisfaction for both topics and led to a lower level of self-reported mental effort for difficult topic.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Transitioning from technical communication to user experience (UX): A case study of a collaborative curriculum redesign

Rice-Bailey, T., & Shalamova, N. (2016). International Journal of Sociotechnology and Knowledge Development, 8(3), 1–14. doi: 10.4018/IJSKD.2016070101

“This article details a collaboration between a Technical Communication (TC) academic program at Milwaukee School of Engineering and its User Experience (UX) industry and community partners. This collaboration resulted in rethinking a TC degree program and establishing a new UX and Communication Design B.S. degree program. This article responds to TC scholarship calling for increased collaboration between academia and industry. The authors further explain how this particular collaboration was guided by Stakeholder Theory, enabling the program to identify its stakeholders and balance their differences while establishing new partnerships with the UX professional community. This article presents a case study of academia/industry collaboration and details both the challenges and successes that emerged during a program redesign. It concludes with models, a tools, and preliminary lessons that can assist other academic programs considering or undergoing similar curriculum or programmatic changes.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Whatever happened to technical writing?

Tebeaux, E. (2017). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(1), 321. doi: 10.1177/0047281616641933

“This article provides a short history of the continuing issues that modern technical communication and technical communication faculty face. It discusses the first texts and many of the early pedagogical battles: Technical communication faculty faced literature faculty who saw the practical as the work of the devil, despite the fact that technical writing courses remained in high demand. Many recent books presented here discuss the problems of a culture steadily declining in educational quality and students who cannot write.”

Anita Ford


From NoobGuides to #OpKKK: Ethics of Anonymous’ tactical technical communication

Colton, J. S., Holmes, S., & Walwema, J. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1257743

“Tactical technical communication research suggests its application to social justice. However, beyond a general advocacy of anti-institutional activity, de Certeau’s notion of tactics provides no detailed ethical framework for ethically justifying tactics. In acknowledgement of this gap, this article foregrounds the ethical thought of feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero, particularly her concept of vulnerability, as a supplement for those employing tactics for social justice causes. The authors examine the technical documents produced by the hacktivist collective Anonymous.”

Rhonda Stanton

Rhetorical work in crowd-based entrepreneurship: Lessons learned from teaching crowdfunding as an emerging site of professional and technical communication

Vealey, K. P., & Gerding, J. M. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(4), 407–427. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2614742

“. . . Crowdfunding provides an alternative to the way entrepreneurs traditionally raise start-up and operational funds for a venture. Moreover, with crowdfunding platforms, citizens and communities are increasingly able to engage in entrepreneurial work not only for profit but also to address social and civic problems . . . . Given the expanding boundaries of entrepreneurship, it is increasingly important for professional and technical communication teachers to prepare students to be ethical entrepreneurs and embody a widening array of rhetorical skills. . . .” The authors describe two student projects on civic crowdfunding “as illustrative cases of how students engaged crowdfunding as a form of civic entrepreneurship. . . . [This] teaching case has demonstrated the need to prepare students not only to pitch venture ideas for a small audience of investors, but also to consider how to identify and frame problems, construct stories about these problems as pressing matters of concern and, ultimately, develop ethical relationships with stakeholders and increasingly diverse investors.”

Lyn Gattis

Health communication

Classified conversations: Psychiatry and tactical technical communication in online spaces

Holladay, D. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 8–24. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1257744

“This article examines the practices of writers in online discussion board conversations as they interpret technical documents related to a psychiatric diagnosis. Drawing from interviews with 15 participants, the author argues that writers in this context interpret and manipulate medical knowledge in unique ways that benefit the community. The author concludes that studies in technical communication should take into account all groups affected by specialized knowledge, including those with little expertise or social power.”

Rhonda Stanton

Information management

Chatbots and the future of technical communication

Hoffman, A., & Apodaca, A. (2016). Best Practices, 18(6), 88–93. [Center for Information-Development Management] [doi: none]

This article explores the growing use of chatbots, defined here as platform-independent computer programs users can “talk to, using some combination of rules (like a decision tree) and artificial intelligence.” Chatbots are “fully embedded into messenger applications like Telegram, Slack, or Facebook Messenger. [They] are apps within an app that can be programmed for an almost endless variety of tasks, guiding the user through choices or allowing them to message directly.” Although the concept is not new, chatbots are becoming more popular because they are an efficient alternative to downloading apps, and they can be “very easy to make and distribute.” The authors suggest that chatbots are a trend technical communicators might find relevant to user surveys, content creation, and messaging services.

Lyn Gattis

Status quo bias in information system adoption: A meta-analytic review

Wu, C. C. (2016). Online Information Review, 40(7), 998–1017. doi: 10.1108/OIR-09-2015-0311

“The purpose of this paper is to clarify the influence of status quo on information system (IS) adoption. Organizations often substantially allocate resources to leverage existing IT investments. The incumbent system deployment and the institutional environment will exert the influence on the new IS adoption of firms. The findings provide insights for explaining why firms conservatively react toward an emerging IT innovation. . . . Through a meta-analysis with 34 published studies, this study provides three observations. First, the results provide supports for the magnitude and significance of proposed relationships. Second, the relationships between status quo factors, expectations, and IS adoption are indeed related. Third, the considerable variability across effect sizes can be attributed to the type of adoption, the type of focal system, and the type of institutional pressures. . . .”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Intercultural communication

Leadership construction in intra-Asian English as lingua franca decision-making meetings

Du-Babcock, B., & Tanaka, H. (2017). International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 83–98. doi: 10.1177/2329488416675451

“In Asia, the English language serves as a lingua franca to connect people from various backgrounds for managerial synergy. In this study, [the authors] investigate leadership in a setting where English as lingua franca is used among Asian business professionals. Employing the notion of discourse, [the authors] use quantitative and qualitative analyses to identify how leadership emerges in meetings with multicultural participants, and how different types of leadership affect these decision-making meetings. [They] conclude that linguistic and contextual factors discursively construct different styles of leadership, and that these leadership styles lead to starkly different team outcomes. The overall result indicates that a business meeting is not a logical process leading to a rational decision, but rather an organic mix of contextual, linguistic, and leadership factors when English as lingua franca is used in multicultural participants.”

Katherine Wertz

“Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”: Jihadist tactical technical communication and the everyday practice of cooking

Sarat-St. Peter, H. A. (2017). Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 76–91. doi: 10.1080/10572252.2016.1275862

“Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Jihadist organizations such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have focused increasingly on motivating unaffiliated individuals in the United States and Western countries to carry out lone-wolf attacks in their home countries. To this end, many Jihadist organizations produce what is known as tactical technical communication. Jihadist tactical technical communication persuades individuals to act by creating identification between individuals and audiences, and by associating terrorist tactics with everyday practices such as cooking.”

Rhonda Stanton

A narrative perspective on international entrepreneurship: Comparing stories from the United States, Spain, and China

Williams, S. D., Ammetller, G., Rodríguez-Ardura, I., & Li, X. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(4), 379–397. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2608179

“This study investigates entrepreneurship as a rhetorical practice and seeks to illustrate how narratives of individuals from different cultures create a discourse of entrepreneurship.” The authors ask how “stories that are told by entrepreneurs from different cultures reveal their values,” and what those stories tell “about entrepreneurship in different cultures . . . . [The authors] collected entrepreneurial narratives in the US, Spain, and China, and deployed a novel two-fold method to retain cultural nuances and validate translation accuracy. Narrative data were studied based upon the coding, constant comparison, and memo writing used in grounded theory. . . . [The authors] identify three core metaphorical devices used by participants to structure their entrepreneurial journeys (action and learning, autonomy and money, and exceptionalism and networks), and . . . suggest that the use of these metaphorical pairs varies both within and across cultures. These findings offer preliminary evidence, for the first time in the literature, that building a rhetorical understanding of entrepreneurship requires that we consider two axes: the individual and the cultural.”

Lyn Gattis


Lookalike professional English

Van Hout, T., & Van Praet, E. (2016). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 59(4), 398–406. doi: 10.1109/TPC.2016.2608198

“[This] teaching case reports on a fieldwork assignment designed to have master of arts students experience first-hand how entrepreneurs write for the globalized marketplace by examining public displays of language, such as billboards, shop windows, and posters. . . . [The authors] use linguistic landscaping (LL) as a pedagogical resource, drawing on similar cases in a local English as a foreign language (EFL) community in Oaxaca, Mexico; EFL programs in Chiba-shi, Japan; francophone and immersion French programs in Montreal, QC, Canada and Vancouver, BC, Canada; and a study of the entrepreneurial landscape in Observatory’s business corridor of Lower Main Road in Cape Town, South Africa. . . . [The authors] interviewed 36 students about their learning process in one-to-one post hoc interviews. Recurrent themes were increased self-monitoring, improved professional communication literacy, and expanded real-world understanding. . . . The main takeaway of the assignment is that students were more aware of the degree of linguistic innovation, rhetorical creativity, and ethnocultural stereotyping of entrepreneurial communication in their cities. . . . As a pedagogical tool, LL offers possibilities for exploring entrepreneurial communication in all of its breadth and variety, providing access to perhaps the most visible and creative materialities of entrepreneurs and service providers: shop windows and signs.”

Lyn Gattis

Professional issues

Surviving outsourcing and offshoring: Technical communication professionals in search of a future

Virtaluoto, J., Sannino, A., & Engeström, Y. (2016). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 30(4), 495–532. doi: 10.1177/1050651916651908

“Major trends, such as outsourcing and offshoring, and field-specific factors, such as the advent of content management systems, have fundamentally changed technical communication in recent years. These changes have been widely discussed in the literature of the field, and this article traces their impact on technical communicators in Finland, a high-cost country where downturns in the export industry and the downsizing of major employers are currently coinciding. Through the framework of activity theory, the article looks at the historical changes in the industry as sources of tension and contradictions that need to be understood in order to support professionals in the industry. With the help of interview data, the authors explore the tensions experienced by technical communication professionals in the face of such changes. This analysis leads to the formulation of a hypothesis of historical contradictions currently at play in the field of technical communication. Developmental potentials stemming from these contradictions are outlined as potential ways forward for technical communicators who notice similar tensions in their own environments.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Letterform research: An academic orphan

Beier, S. (2016). Visible Language, 50(2). [online] [doi: none]

“This paper looks into the history of letterform research and discusses why the discipline has yet to make the big break within design research. By highlighting two of the most popular focus areas (letter distinctiveness and the role of serifs) and by discussing various forms of methodological shortcomings, the paper suggests that future research into letterforms should (1) draw on results from the field of reading research (2) be based on test material informed by design knowledge and (3) move away from the former tendency of looking for universal answers.”

Lyn Gattis

Participating with pictures: Promises and challenges of using images as a technique in technical communication research

Sullivan, P. (2017). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 47(1), 86108. doi: 10.1177/0047281616641930

“Image-based research conducted on and by research participants holds promise to extend participatory studies in technical communication by delivering research techniques that have been used for Policy Research in Public Health and other areas of participatory research (e.g., community-based participatory research). Even though they can expand policy (or even user design work), the use of participants’ images is not without challenges. The article discusses those challenges and suggests practices that stabilize the research logistically, relationally, and thematically; it also presents the approach as attractive for use in arenas that reward scrutiny even though they have traditionally been difficult to study.”

Anita Ford

Science writing

One scientist’s struggle to be a better writer, and a plea for undergraduate science-writing engagement

Smith, D. R. (2016). Science Communication, 38(5), 666–674. doi: 10.1177/1075547016664737

“In an age where we are saturated with online information, effective communication is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many scientists are ineffective, unskilled, and/or not interested at communicating their research to the general public. Moreover, at some universities, undergraduate science students do not receive adequate training in writing and outreach, thus perpetuating the problem.” In this article the author recounts his “battle to become a better science writer and communicator and [his efforts] to integrate public outreach and popular writing into . . . undergraduate teaching and research.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Measuring the first impression: Testing the validity of the 5 second test

Gronier, G. (2016). Journal of Usability Studies, 12(1), 8–25. [doi: none]

“This study aims at measuring the scientific validity of a method often used, but little formalized, to evaluate user experience: the 5 Second Test (5ST). To present this test, a fixed interface, such as a webpage or software screen, is shown to users for exactly 5 seconds. After 5 seconds, the interface disappears and test moderators ask a few open questions to elicit users’ first impressions. To measure the validity of the method, an experimental protocol was developed to compare the elements that are most remembered when displayed for 5 seconds or for a period of time with no specified time limit. The hypothesis proposed is that the user will first focus on the elements specific to the non-instrumental qualities (hedonic qualities) of the interface during the first moments of the interaction, and then after 5 seconds, users can better perceive the instrumental qualities (practical qualities). The results partially validate this hypothesis and show, in [the author’s] view, the interest in the 5 second test that complementary studies must continue to validate.”

Ginnifer Mastarone

User value and usability in technical communication: A value-proposition design model

Acharya, K. R. (2016). Communication Design Quarterly, 4(3), 26–34. [doi: none]

“This entry defines value from users’ perspectives and discusses the need to consider ‘user value’ as an important framework for enhancing product usability in technical communication. Arguing it is essential to involve users in the process of product design, the paper emphasizes the need to recognize users as value co-creators. To further enhance and extend the study of usability, this article proposes a value proposition approach to design and notes such an approach can help communication designers effectively design, test, and deliver materials end users want and value.”

Lyn Gattis

Visualizers versus verbalizers: Effects of cognitive style on learning with texts and pictures—An eye-tracking study

Ko´c-Januchta, M., Höffler, T., Thoma, G.-B., Prechtl, H., & Leutner, D. (2017). Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 170–179. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.028 0747-5632

“This study was conducted in order to examine the differences between visualizers and verbalizers in the way they gaze at pictures and texts while learning. Using a collection of questionnaires, college students were classified according to their visual or verbal cognitive style and were asked to learn about two different, in terms of subject and type of knowledge, topics by means of text-picture combinations. Eyetracking was used to investigate their gaze behavior. The results show that visualizers spent significantly more time inspecting pictures than verbalizers, while verbalizers spent more time inspecting texts. Results also suggest that both visualizers’ and verbalizers’ way of learning is active but mostly within areas providing the source of information in line with their cognitive style (pictures or text). Verbalizers tended to enter non-informative, irrelevant areas of pictures sooner than visualizers. The comparison of learning outcomes showed that the group of visualizers achieved better results than the group of verbalizers on a comprehension test.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez


Rhetorical move structure in high-tech marketing white papers

Campbell, K. S., & Naidoo, J. S. (2017). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 31(1), 94–118. doi: 10.1177/1050651916667532

“White papers are commonly produced by for-profit organizations to market high-tech products and services and are often created by technical writers. But writers of this genre have little evidence-based research to guide them. To fill this void, the authors tested a rhetorical move structure with a sample of 20 top-rated marketing white papers and found that, despite the lack of industry standards for white papers, those written for marketing purposes display similar rhetorical moves: introducing the business problem, occupying the business solution niche, prompting action, establishing credibility, and providing disclaimers or legal considerations. Based on the results of this study, the authors advance guidelines for writers of this genre and suggest areas for future research.”

Sean C. Herring