Shalamova – Blending Engineering Content with Design Thinking . . .

Shalamova, N. (2016). Blending engineering content with design thinking and UX to maximize student engagement in a technical communication class. 2016 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC).

               This article provides initial insights from a recent teaching case study of integrating user experience concepts and design thinking techniques into a freshman technical communication course for engineering students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The course responds to the technical communication scholarship that calls for increased interdisciplinary pedagogy. The article highlights the intertwined nature of technical communication, design thinking, and user experience (UX), and points to a noticeable gap in using design thinking and UX concepts in technical communication courses. By describing the applications of design thinking, UX, and technical communication, the article makes a case for a meaningful convergence among these disciplines. The article further discusses how the integration of design thinking and UX can enrich technical communication instruction and provide additional opportunities for student engagement. The article concludes with preliminary results from teaching the course.

  • At its core, this is an article arguing for TC as UX as DT (and, iterate). I can dig that.
  • Key claim: “Technical communication instructors often lack the necessary technical expertise to engage engineering students in meaningful communication projects” (1).
  • Key sources that argue for connection between UX and TC:
    • J. Redish and C. Barnum, “Overlap, Influence, Intertwining: The Interplay of UX and Technical Communication,” J. of Usability Stud., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 90-101, 2011.
    • J . Redish, “Technical communication and usability: Intertwined strands and mutual influences,” IEEE Trans. Prof. Commun., vol. 53, pp. 191-201, 2010.

In essence, Shalamova used UX/DT as a way to help engineering students scaffold the very nitty-gritty technical composition typical of a TC class. This made the work more rhetorically effective and allowed the students to create richer communication practices for their potential audiences.