70.2 May 2023

Recent & Relevant

Sean C. Herring, 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 Sean Herring at SeanHerring@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.

Audience analysis

Framing COVID-19 preprint research as uncertain: A mixed-method study of public reactions

Ratcliff, C.L., Fleerackers, A., Wicke, R., Harvill, B., King, A.J., & Jensen, J.D. (2023). Health Communication. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2023.2164954

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists were encouraged to convey uncertainty surrounding preliminary scientific evidence, including mentioning when research is unpublished or unverified by peer review. To understand how public audiences interpret this information, [authors] conducted a mixed method study with U.S. adults. Participants read a news article about preprint COVID-19 vaccine research in early April 2021, just as the vaccine was becoming widely available to the U.S. public. [Authors] modified the article to test two ways of conveying uncertainty (hedging of scientific claims and mention of preprint status) in a 2 × 2 between-participants factorial design. To complement this, [authors] collected open-ended data to assess participants’ understanding of the concept of a scientific preprint. In all, participants who read hedged (vs. unhedged) versions of the article reported less favorable vaccine attitudes and intentions and found the scientists and news reporting less trustworthy. These effects were moderated by participants’ epistemic beliefs and their preference for information about scientific uncertainty. However, there was no impact of describing the study as a preprint, and participants’ qualitative responses indicated a limited understanding of the concept. [Authors] discuss implications of these findings for communicating initial scientific evidence to the public and outline important next steps for research and theory-building.”

Walter Orr

How the interplay of consumer-brand identification and crises influences the effectiveness of corporate response strategies

Ma, L. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 84–104. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419898222

“Consumer-brand identification (CBI) establishes when consumers use the defining attributes of a brand to define themselves. This study examines whether and how CBI influences the effectiveness of corporate response strategies suggested by the situational crisis communication theory in preventable crises and whether this influence is moderated by a threat to the self-defining attributes shared between consumers and a brand. A total of 868 consumers of two brands took part in an online experiment. CBI increases the effectiveness of corporate response strategies at mitigating negative consumer reactions. Response strategies are even more effective when a crisis does not threaten the shared defining attributes. Additionally, compensation is the strategy that really reduces consumers’ negative reactions, instead of apology strategy. More theoretical and practical implications were discussed.”

Katherine Wertz


Surveying the effects of remote communication & collaboration practices on game developers amid a pandemic

Caravella, E., Shivener, R., & Narayanamoorthy, N. (2022). Communication Design Quarterly, 10(4), 5–15. https://doi.org/10.1145/3531210.3531211

“Communication and collaboration are essential parts of the game development process. However, during the global pandemic, the shift to remote work marked a sudden change in how developers could communicate and collaborate with one another, as usual ad hoc conversations that happen in physical offices were nonexistent. Based on a partnership grant study with the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), this piece focuses on the results of a survey that examined developers’ mental health and productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. [The authors’] findings suggest that most game developers want a hybrid or fully remote position even after pandemic conditions subside. Failure to address the pandemic’s impact on the game development industry risks ignoring a rich area of technical communication complicated by, and responsive to, hybrid workplaces.”

Lyn Gattis


Chatbots in marketing: A literature review using morphological and co-occurrence analyses

Ramesh, A., & Chawla, V. (2022). Journal of Interactive Marketing, 57(3), 472-496. https://doi.org/10.1177/10949968221095549

“Chatbots have become common in marketing-related applications, providing 24/7 service, engaging customers in humanlike conversation, and reducing employee workload in handling customer calls. However, the academic literature on the use of chatbots in marketing remains sparse and scattered across disciplines. The present study combines morphological analysis and co-occurrence analysis to bring structure to this area and to identify relevant research gaps. Morphological analysis divides a problem into pertinent and clearly distinguishable components, namely dimensions (at an abstract level) and variants (at a concrete level). A Zwicky box (a cross-variant matrix of dimensions) is then constructed to identify future research opportunities. Here, the authors obtain 11 dimensions and 264 variants. To eliminate inconsistent configurations (i.e., combinations of variants across dimensions), they perform a cross-consistency assessment and identify potential research gaps. To increase objectivity in the selection of relevant gaps, the authors use VOSviewer software to conduct a co-occurrence analysis of the variants.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Commentary—a Dimon in the rough: Apologetic crisis management at JPMorgan Chase

Hearit, K. M., & Hearit, L. B. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 351–362. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420932303

“When companies are caught in a crisis, the need to deliver a defense in order to salvage their damaged reputation is an ongoing challenge. Drawing from actional legitimacy and apologia theory, this article examines corporate use of crisis communication through a case study surrounding Jamie Dimon, CEO at JPMorgan Chase. Dimon found himself in a crisis from 2012 to 2013 when a so-called ‘London Whale’ made a series of trades that cost the company $6 billion U. S. Dollars, and raised serious questions over Dimon’s judgment and ability to lead JPMorgan Chase. In particular, [the authors] argue that the restoration of actional legitimacy centers around strategies of mortification, (corrective) action, justification, and authorization.”

Katherine Wertz

Knowledge brokering in an era of communication visibility

van Zoonen, W., & Sivunen, A. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 313–330. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420937348

“This study presents an analysis of the extent to which enterprise social media (ESM) use enhances visibility of content (message transparency) and connections (network translucence) in organizations, and how this affects knowledge brokering. The findings support the theory of communication visibility by demonstrating that ESM use is associated with perceptions of message transparency and network translucence. Furthermore, the findings suggest that employees, regardless of their position within a network, are provided with a vision advantage and thus have the ability to engage in knowledge brokering. Future work needs to examine the impact of network characteristics on these effects. This article contributes to our understanding of knowledge brokering in contemporary networked and mediated workplaces. Specifically, this article offers an analysis of the theory of communication visibility and demonstrates the mediating role of communication visibility in the relationship between ESM use and intraorganizational knowledge brokering activities.”

Katherine Wertz


Blame the bot: anthropomorphism and anger in customer–chatbot interactions

Crolic, C., Thomaz, F., Hadi, R., & Stephen, A. T. (2022). Journal of Marketing, 86(1), 132-148. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222429211045687

“Chatbots have become common in digital customer service contexts across many industries. While many companies choose to humanize their customer service chatbots (e.g., giving them names and avatars), little is known about how anthropomorphism influences customer responses to chatbots in service settings. Across five studies, including an analysis of a large real-world data set from an international telecommunications company and four experiments, the authors find that when customers enter a chatbot-led service interaction in an angry emotional state, chatbot anthropomorphism has a negative effect on customer satisfaction, overall firm evaluation, and subsequent purchase intentions. However, this is not the case for customers in nonangry emotional states. The authors uncover the underlying mechanism driving this negative effect (expectancy violations caused by inflated pre-encounter expectations of chatbot efficacy) and offer practical implications for managers. These findings suggest that it is important to both carefully design chatbots and consider the emotional context in which they are used, particularly in customer service interactions that involve resolving problems or handling complaints.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Conceptualizing and validating organizational communication patterns and their associations with employee outcomes

Mikkelson, A. C., & Hesse, C. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 287–312. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420932299

“Using Ritchie and Fitzpatrick’s conceptualization of family communication patterns, [the authors] developed a scale of communication patterns within an organizational context. Three studies (total N = 877) were conducted to develop the new measurement and demonstrate its psychometric properties. The item generation (Study 1) and the exploratory factor analysis (Study 2) revealed that conformity had both positive and negative dimensions. The confirmatory factor analysis (Study 3) demonstrated the strength of the factor structure for the two dimensions of conformity and the conversation orientation. Results indicated that positive conformity and conversation orientations were positively related to constructive employee outcomes (e.g., organizational commitment and employee engagement) and negatively related to detrimental employee outcomes (e.g., turnover intentions and burnout). The negative conformity orientation demonstrated the opposite relationship to employee outcomes. Finally, regression analyses indicated that interaction effects occurred between the conformity dimensions and the conversation orientation for several employee outcomes.”

Katherine Wertz

“It makes everything just another story”: A mixed methods study of medical storytelling on GoFundMe

Campeau, K. and Thao, Y. (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 33-49 https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2022.2047792

“This article reports on a study of 65 randomly sampled medical crowdfunding campaigns and five interviews with campaign authors. We found that authors innovated technical and professional communication (TPC) tools to narrate their illness experiences, coordinate digital audiences, and compel action. Thus, these authors practice TPC as care seeking and caregiving. Crowdfunding platforms, however, situate authors to individualize structural problems in ways that preempt collective action. We conclude with pedagogical implications of our findings.”

Rhonda Stanton


Uncovering the role of strategic orientation in translating communication strategies to organizational performance: An analysis of practitioners from two Chinese societies

Wang, X., & Huang, Y.-H. C. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 234–259. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420924839

“Integrating strategic process theory and resource orchestration view, this study challenges and extends the prior model supporting the direct effect of communication on organizational performance by examining the mediating role of practitioners’ strategic orientation. Employing two data sets of communication practitioners in China and Hong Kong, results of the structural equation model show that reputation orientation and organization-public relationship orientation represent two strategic value systems fully mediating the relationship between communication strategies and the organizational goal attainment. The findings support the proposition that business outcomes and competitive advantages at the organizational level depends not simply on various communication strategies formulated by senior executives and top communication managers, but more importantly, on how frontline communication professionals implement these strategies and translate resources into strategic communication processes. Moreover, the contextual sensitivity of findings indicates a relational shift underway in the strategic communication paradigm, but organization-public relationship is still far from a dominant cultural mechanism thoroughly endorsed by the industry.”

Katherine Wertz


Analyzing safety communication in industrial contexts visualizing a drug abuse epidemic: Media coverage, opioids, and the racialized construction of public health frameworks

Welhausen, C. A.: (2023). Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 53(2), 251-290. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047281622112518

“In technical and professional communication, the social justice turn calls on us to interrogate sites of positionality, privilege, and power to help foreground strategies that can empower marginalized groups. [The author] propose[s] that mainstream media coverage of the opioid epidemic represents such a site because addiction to these drugs, which initially primarily affected White people, has been positioned as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice problem. [The author] explore[s] the strategies that were used to create this positioning by investigating themes in the visual rhetoric as conveyed through data visualizations and in the text of the articles in which these graphics were published. [The author’s] results align with two previous studies that confirmed this public health framing. [The author] also observed an emphasis on mortality, which contributes to our understanding of rhetorical strategies that can be used to engender support rather than condemnation for those suffering from drug addiction.”

Anita Ford

Ethical issues

Ethical design approaches for workplace augmented reality

Greene, J. (2022). Communication Design Quarterly, 10(4), 16–26. https://doi.org/10.1145/3531210.3531212

“Augmented reality (AR) technologies are increasingly being implemented in various workplace contexts; however, they pose a number of ethical design challenges. To discern the ethical implications of workplace AR, this article conducts an analysis of the promotional discourses surrounding a workplace AR system. This analysis demonstrates a tendency to frame AR technologies in terms of a transhumanist evolution in worker agency and organizational efficiency. Such discourses elide applications of workplace AR for purposes of worker surveillance and exploitation. The article concludes by outlining speculative ethical design guidelines that communication designers can take up in their work on workplace AR systems.”

Lyn Gattis

How human–chatbot interaction impairs charitable giving: the role of moral judgment

Zhou, Y., Fei, Z., He, Y., & Yang, Z. (2022). Journal of Business Ethics, 178(3), 849-865. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-022-05045-w

“Interactions between human beings and chatbots are gradually becoming part of our everyday social lives. It is still unclear how human–chatbot interactions (HCIs), compared to human–human interactions (HHIs), influence individual morality. Building on the dual-process theory of moral judgment, a secondary data analysis (Study 1), and two scenario-based experiments (Studies 2 and 3) provide sufficient evidence that HCIs (vs. HHIs) support utilitarian judgments (vs. deontological judgments), which reduce participants’ donation amount. Study 3 further demonstrates that the negative effects of HCIs can be attenuated by inducing a social-oriented (vs. task-oriented) communication style in chatbots’ verbal language designs. These findings highlight the negative impacts of HCIs on relationships among human beings and suggest a practical intervention for nonprofit organization managers.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Health communication

Examining perceptions of uncertain language in potential E-cigarette warning labels: Results from 16 focus groups with adult tobacco users and youth

Safi, A.G., Kalaji, M., Avery, R., Niederdeppe, J., Mathios, A., Dorf, M., & Byrne, S. (2023). Health Communication. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2023.2170092

“E-cigarette use among youth presents a public health risk. Yet, cigarette smokers who substantially reduce their smoking or switch completely from traditional combustible cigarettes could benefit. As science about e-cigarettes is continually emerging, any potential warnings are likely to contain uncertain language. Hedged verbiage may impact decision making. To assess reactions, [authors] conducted 16 online focus groups; 8 with youth (n = 32, grouped by gender and by vaping experience) and 8 with adult tobacco users (n = 37, grouped by smokers, dual users of e-cigarettes and cigarettes, and former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes). Each focus group viewed and discussed 8 potential warnings messages. [Authors] conducted an inductive thematic analysis of the reactions to warning messages that contain uncertain language. Respondents’ reactions were often negative, but varied based on specific usages of uncertainty, existing beliefs about uncertainty in law and science, and smoking/vaping use patterns that supported the use of uncertainty related to e-cigarettes. Many youth (and some adults) believed that uncertain language enabled audiences to minimize the likelihood of harm or interpreted it as meaning there are both healthy and unhealthy e-cigarettes. This qualitative study provides evidence that the use of types of uncertain language, the frequency of that use, and/or the selection of particular words in warnings, might not achieve the intended public health aims of increasing understanding of risk, deterring youth uptake, and/or facilitating a substantial switch from cigarettes. The use of certain types of uncertain language appears to have significant potential to bring unintended consequences. Suggestions for research and policy are included.”

Walter Orr

Information management

Snippets, subject lines, and exclamation points: A case study in constructing better library emails

Davis, R. C. & Partlow, M. & Pearce, D. & Sheffield, S., (2022). Weave, 5 (2), https://doi.org/10.3998/weaveux.1634

“While this study was done for a library’s automated emails, its lessons pertain to most institutions and companies. “Automated emails sent from the integrated library system (ILS) account for hundreds (or thousands) of patron contacts each day, but the email templates typically focus on communicating … policy rather than on answering patron questions and concerns… . To address the issues with our emails, a small interdepartmental team rewrote all our ILS’ notification templates… . Using our Libraries’ style guide, as well as multiple rounds of user research, we refined formatting, added information users told us would be useful, and made sure the tone of each email was appropriate to its content.” … . The article includes a review of past literature on automated emails with a “content strategy” and tone that focused on users’ needs, the primary research the authors performed to create a better user experience, and before and after samples of automated emails based on their work. Since automated emails are a cost-effective way to reach patrons and customers, reviewing the automated email system regularly to best meet patron/customer needs can create a better user experience.”

Diana Fox Bentele


Minimalism for the win: User-centered design for guidance in industrial maintenance

Heinonen, H., Virtaluoto, J., Suomivuori, T., Forsman, K., Kangas, T., & Siltanen, S. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(4), 485–501. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3205468

This article reports findings of “an exploratory study to test the delivery of technical instructions built on the principles of minimalism.” The researchers’ objective was to investigate how “the semantic structure of DITA XML [could] be utilized in delivering technical information to users based on their skill levels” and how “a layered system of information [would] support the principles of minimalism.” The researchers “created material and tested the concept in user studies with maintenance personnel in three countries,” collecting responses “through participant observation, interviews, and questionnaires.” The researchers concluded “the context-sensitive level of expertise concept empowers users to decide on the depth of technical information that they require to complete the task at hand. The semantic structure of DITA XML works well in the delivery of technical information to the users based on their skill levels. Many of the key principles of minimalism are applicable to hardware maintenance instructions.”

Lyn Gattis

Intercultural communication

English as a lingua franca in mainland China: An analysis of intercultural business communicative competence

Yao, Y., & Du-Babcock, B. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 3–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419898221

“China’s rapid expanding its collaboration with the rest of the world entails an urgent need of numerous talents with excellent intercultural communicative competence. Past research has shown that limited empirical studies are available on intercultural communicative competence in business contexts of Mainland China. To bridge the gap, the present study aims to explore what competencies are obligatory for successful intercultural business communication by examining the perceptions of Chinese business professionals on this issue. Adopting the triangulated research method, the present study employs both quantitative and qualitative data to ascertain a better understanding of the issues in question and to corroborate the results obtained from these two research methods. Two hundred and twenty-seven (N = 227) Chinese business professionals filled in the online questionnaires and 11 of them participated in follow-up interviews. [The authors’] findings indicate that intercultural business communicative competence (IBCC) consists of four obligatory components: three in relation to cultural ability (metacognitive intelligence, motivational intelligence, and behavioral intelligence) and one to language ability (strategic competence). Based on [the authors’] findings, [the authors] present a model of IBCC with implications to theory, practice, and education for intercultural business communication.”

Katherine Wertz


Making the most effective strategy more effective: Examining the situational and interaction effects of accommodative CCSs in corporate crises

Wu, F., & Xu, D. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 260–286. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420929748

“This study introduces the organization justice theory as a framework to conceptualize accommodative crisis communication strategies (CCSs). In this regard, it is proposed that three sub-strategies of accommodative CCSs—apology, showing regard, compensation, and corrective action—can enable organizations transform the negative responses of publics by restoring procedural, interactional, and distributive justice. Using an online experiment (N = 800), this study investigates the effectiveness of each substrategy in different conditions of cause attribution and examines how combinations of accommodative CCSs affect postcrisis public responses. The results indicate that substantive accommodative CCSs (compensation and corrective action) are more effective than symbolic ones (apology and showing regard) in restoring the perceptions and behavioral intentions of publics regarding the organization. Specifically, substantive accommodative CCSs perform better at restoring reputation and purchase intentions when the cause of a crisis is externally attributed. Furthermore, employing a single symbolic accommodative CCS is found to result in greater account acceptance than using a combination.”

Katherine Wertz

Reflections on working as a medical writer with a disability and how medical writers can be disability allies

Towles, J.M. (2022). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 37(4), 29-34. [doi: none]

“[The author is] a firm believer that things happen for a reason, but also that good comes from talking about how things came to be the way they are. The first part of this article describes [the author’s] personal journey navigating the complexities of having a disability concurrently with those of being a medical writer and from that standpoint can be considered subjective compared with the data-driven information we are used to seeing in our daily work. It is not meant to be a history on disability law or a comprehensive treatise on why people with disabilities are underemployed—other authors have covered those topics in great detail in other milieus, to incremental avail—but, rather, to raise awareness of potential challenges within the medical writing context and how navigating stakeholders’ assumptions about health circumstances can be as arduous as managing the health condition itself. The second part of this article provides practical suggestions on things the medical writing community can do to make sure their own can keep being strong contributors no matter what their circumstances are in life. It is the author’s hope that this article will represent the start of a dialogue within [the medical writing] community and that by sharing one story others feel comfortable sharing their own.”

Walter Orr

Political discourse

Diagnosing unsettled stasis in transnational communication design: An exploration of public health emergency communication

Gerdes, J. (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 17-32, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2022.2069286

“This article builds four composite characters from the international Zika response to demonstrate each role’s position relative to inclusive health communication. I argue that a lack of jurisdictional stasis is at play in decision-making practices about transnational risk communication approaches. During emergency health responses, this lack of jurisdictional stasis functions to maintain the status quo in order for stakeholders to leverage their power in prioritizing local deliberations in transnational public health discourse and decision making.”

Rhonda Stanton

Public relations

Benefit communication and its effects on employees’ benefit level satisfaction: The multiple mediating effects of POS and benefit comparison

Cordón-Pozo, E., Vidal-Salazar, M. D., de la Torre-Ruiz, J. M., & Gómez-Haro, S. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 331–350. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488420943667

“Many firms offer employees a broad range of benefits as part of their compensation. However, little attention has been given to the extent to which firms communicate with their employees in relation to such benefits. This study proposes that benefit communication can have both direct and indirect positive effects on employees’ benefit level satisfaction. The effects of benefit communication were examined by means of a survey among 828 employees of different Spanish firms. This study hypothesized and found that benefit communication led to increased benefit level satisfaction. Similarly, this study found that benefit communication can influence benefit level satisfaction through the multiple intermediating effects of employees’ perceived organizational support and employees’ comparison of their benefits with those of referent others. These results imply that academics and practitioners must pay attention to providing adequate benefit communication in order to ensure the effectiveness of benefits.”

Katherine Wertz


Embodied participation: (Re)situating bodies in collaborative research

Clay, M., Smith-Mayo, J., & McGreavy, B. (2022). Communication Design Quarterly, 10(4), 27–39. https://doi.org/10.1145/3531210.3531213

“[This] paper centers embodiment as a theme and a process in research through describing the fine-grained practices and everyday interactions that shape collaborative research in the contexts of watershed restoration and environmental monitoring. [The authors] focus on embodiment because it offers a means for attending to the process and politics of knowledge production within and across boundaries. [They] offer two case studies that focus on embodiment to structure research processes and shape ongoing, emergent, and collaborative research practices. [They] argue technical communication as a field is well positioned to include embodied practices in research design and writing.”

Lyn Gattis


Building better machine learning models for rhetorical analyses: The use of rhetorical feature sets for training artificial neural network models

Majdik, Z. & Wynn, J. (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 63-78, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2022.2077452

“In this paper, we investigate two approaches to building artificial neural network models to compare their effectiveness for accurately classifying rhetorical structures across multiple (non-binary) classes in small textual datasets. We find that the most accurate type of model can be designed by using a custom rhetorical feature list coupled with general-language word vector representations, which outperforms models with more computing-intensive architectures.”

Rhonda Stanton

Scientific writing

First, do no harm: Ethical considerations surrounding the environmental impact of our digital content

Bonsignore, A. (2022). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 37(4), 40-43. [doi: none]

“There is a direct correlation between digital content and greenhouse gas emissions. We have an ethical obligation to mitigate our climate impacts when we can to prevent harm.” This article describes the climate footprint of common aspects of medical writing work. The carbon cost of data is discussed, including that of websites, audio and video content, and virtual meeting tools.

Walter Orr

Genre and metagenre in biomedical research writing

Wickman, C. (2023). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 37(2), 140-173. https://doi.org/10.1177/10506519221143113

“The use of reporting guidelines is an established yet still-evolving practice in the field of biomedicine. These documents are often linked to common methodologies (e.g., randomized clinical trials); they include multiple textual artifacts (e.g., checklists, flow diagrams) and have a history that is coextensive with the emergence and ongoing development of evidence-based medicine (e.g., as an epistemological orientation to research and decision making). Drawing on the concept of metagenre, this article examines how practitioners use reporting guidelines to define and regulate the boundaries of biomedical research and writing activity. The analysis, focusing on one prominent set of guidelines, shows how practitioners use the genre–metagenre dynamic to promote strategic intervention while upholding traditional principles and standards for evidence-based research and communication.”

Sean C. Herring


Effects of incorporating an expert decision-making mechanism into chatbots on students’ achievement, enjoyment, and anxiety

Hsu, T. C., Huang, H. L., Hwang, G. J., & Chen, M. S. (2023). Educational Technology & Society, 26(1), 218-231. https://doi.org/10.30191/ETS.202301_26(1).0016

“In traditional instruction, teachers generally deliver the content of textbooks to students via

lectures, making teaching activities lack vibrancy. Moreover, in such a one-to-many teaching mode, the teacher is usually unable to check on individual students’ learning status or to provide immediate feedback to resolve their learning problems. Chatbots provide an opportunity to address this problem. However, conventional chatbots generally serve as information providers (i.e., providing relevant information by matching keywords in a conversation) rather than as decision-making advisors (i.e., using a knowledge-base with a decision-making mechanism to help users solve problems). Thus, this study proposes an expert decision-making-based chatbot to facilitate individual students’ construction of knowledge during the learning process. A quasi-experiment was conducted to compare the differences in the performances and perceptions of students using the expert decision making-based chatbot (EDM-chatbot) and the conventional chatbot (C-chatbot) in the activities of a geography course. One class of 35 students was the experimental group, using the EDM-chatbot. The other class of 35 students was the control group, using the C-chatbot. The results of the study showed that the EDM-chatbot combined with expert decision-making knowledge significantly improved students’ learning achievement and learning enjoyment as well as reducing their learning anxiety, showing the value of the proposed approach.”

Yvonne Wade Sanchez

Regulating emotions for social action: Emotional Intelligence’s role in TPC

Fuglsby, B., & Verramoothoo, S. (C.) (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 98-113, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2022.2079725

“This article describes students’ emotional intelligence (EI) development when participating in the Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Project (TAPP) in two technical and professional communication (TPC) courses. The researchers used modified grounded theory to compile the emotions used for coding students’ weekly reflections, and content analyzed how the TAPP experience affected students’ EI development. Overall, the article emphasizes the importance of supporting TPC students’ EI development in low-stakes environments since EI directly impacted their actions when collaborating.”

Rhonda Stanton


Hey Google, help doing my homework: Surveying voice interactive systems

Demir, F., Kim, D., & Jung, E. (2022). Journal of User Experience, 18(1), 41–61. [doi: none]

“Voice assistant devices, such as Google Home™ and Amazon Echo™, are at the forefront of natural voice interaction and natural language search through the removal of any graphical user interface (GUI). This user experience study is one of the first to compare information foraging using Google Home versus search behaviors using a traditional computer or desktop in a learning environment. [The authors] conducted research (N = 20) to investigate information foraging and retrieval behaviors of participants and measure query effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction. Participants were separated into two distinct groups. The experimental group used the Google Home smart speaker to retrieve information for predefined question sets in the following categories: research, trivia, and math. The control group sought to answer the same question set using more traditional technologies including computers, tablets, cell phones, and calculators. The results show that participants with voice assistants found the correct answers almost two times faster for research and trivia questions and three times faster for math questions than participants using traditional technologies. User satisfaction also scores much higher with voice assistants than with traditional systems. Yet, despite these results, [the researchers] found that privacy concerns, limited searchable databases, and voice-recognition challenges are all limiting factors to the adoption and widespread use of voice assistants. To reach the full promise of relative efficiency and user satisfaction favoring voice assistants over traditional systems, these weaknesses must be addressed.”

Lyn Gattis

Evaluating communication effectiveness through eye tracking: Benefits, state of the art, and unresolved questions

Casado-Aranda, L.-A., Sánchez-Fernández, J., & Ibáñez-Zapata, J.-Á. (2023). International Journal of Business Communication, 60, 24–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/2329488419893746

“Modern eye-tracking techniques have opened a new door of opportunities for evaluating communication effectiveness in a way that minimizes cognitive biases and provides moment-by-moment insights into communication’s attention processes. The increasing body of research applying eye-tracking methodologies, together with the reorientation of the landscape of communication, calls for a comprehensive overview of the scope of research concerning audience’s visual attention to advertising. This is the first study that applies a systematic literature review approach to face this research gap by analyzing 112 papers published between 1979 and 2019 in journals indexed by the ISI Web of Science database. Based on this review, the article examines current evidence determining the visual attention to ads and the relationship between eye-tracking measures and other facets of advertising effectiveness, namely cognitive, affective, and behavioral consumer response. Finally, this article discusses the implications for business communication and proposes directions for academics and professionals intending to explore advertising effectiveness through eye tracking.”

Katherine Wertz

Usability studies

Heuristic evaluation versus guideline reviews: A tale of comparing two domain usability expert’s evaluation methods

Nizamani, S., Nizamani, S., Basir, N., Laghari, G., Khoumbati, K., & Nizamani, S. (2022). IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 65(4), 516–529. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2022.3201732

The usability of university websites … can be evaluated either by testing methods that rely on actual users or by inspection methods that rely on experts for evaluation. Heuristic evaluation and guideline reviews are two inspection methods of usability evaluation. A heuristic evaluation consists of a few general heuristics (rules), which are limited to checking general flaws in the design. A guideline review uses a much larger set of guidelines/suggestions that fit a specific business domain.” This study compared guideline reviews and heuristic evaluation “in a domain- and the culture-specific context in terms of the nature, time required, approach, templates, and results… . The results reflect that both methods identify similar usability issues; however, they differ in terms of the nature, time duration, evaluation procedure, templates, and results of the evaluation.”

Lyn Gattis

Technical Communication as assemblage

Johnson-Eilola, J. & Selber, S. (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 79-97, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2022.2036815

“This article offers a theoretical intervention into the work on posthumanism in technical and professional communication (TPC), an intervention that encourages the field to recognize relationships between objects and users in different ways. Our intervention draws on the work of Deleuze and Guattari to reimagine how TPC tends to think about the concept of assemblage. We apply this other view in makerspaces, illustrating what it buys us for practice and theory in complex sociotechnical contexts.”

Rhonda Stanton

User experience

“The era of ferment”: How practitioners and educators frame HCI

Austin, A., Abdelnour, J., & Clemmensen, T. (2022). Journal of User Experience, 18(1), 7–40. [doi: none]

“This study examined various roles in HCI and incongruences between practitioners’ and educators’ perceptions and experiences. The incongruences are articulated through the conceptual lens of Technological Frames (TF), which are evidenced by shared understanding of theory, practice, and a common approach to practice. [The authors] conducted 21 interviews with HCI practitioners, educators, and people who both practice and teach. [They] adopted a template analysis approach with matrix queries to identify similarities and distinctions between the different TFs of these roles. [The] findings include incongruences between these roles in how they frame and elicit users’ mental models, how they define HCI success, and their levels of enthusiasm for HCI. Congruence was found in framing communication skills, collaboration, and creativity. [The authors] contribute proposals for new requirements to frames and skills within HCI curricula that may help close the gap between education and practice. [They] conclude that despite some convergence across and within groups, perceptions of the HCI field are still unstable, resembling an ‘era of ferment.’

Lyn Gattis


Required templates: An assemblage theory analysis of how template character limits influence the writing of DIY online grant proposals

Gallagher, J., Wysocka, A., & Holmes, S. (2023). Technical Communication Quarterly, 32, 50-62, https://doi.org/10.1080/10572252.2021.2019318

“Identifying the effects of online templates, such as empty state pages (ESPs), sheds light on the user writing habits and best practices for user design. By using assemblage theory and extending previous studies of ESPs to grant proposal writing on the crowded-funded website Experiment.com, this large-scale study (n = 778) finds that required fields are more likely to be filled to the character limit than optional fields.”

Rhonda Stanton

The 5 most commonly misused words in medical writing (According to an editor)

Herron, C.R. (2022). American Medical Writers Association Journal, 37(4), 44-45. [doi: none]

“Words are powerful. They may deceptively look like simple little strings of letters, but they hold the tremendous power of influence. The words we choose—and where we place them—influence thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Clear words support clear thinking. And clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand. Yet, some writers will throw words on the page, hoping that readers will “get the idea.” But when you use words that are ambiguous, inaccurate, or imprecise, you encourage ambiguous, inaccurate, and imprecise thinking. This carelessness can cause death by a thousand cuts—each word misuse can chip away at the clarity and credibility of the work. This chipping away can involve any one of the hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. But as a professional editor, [the author has] noticed 5 words that are most commonly misused in medical writing: utilize, increase, level, while, and comprise.”

Walter Orr