A Second Session for Self Assessment

Over the course of the last two months, I have made much progress in the technique of my technical writing. My primary concern, the inclusion of erroneous information, has – in my opinion – diminished somewhat thanks to more effortful proofreads, and the structural flow is growing smoother with each new paper. Additionally, I have been getting more comfortable with including visual aids to my work. Thanks to some of the more recent assignments, I have had a chance to practice the use of imagery to convey information.

The discussion piece on fracking and the flint water crisis was the first key work which allowed me to develop my skills with visual information. Done in two parts, the requirement was to explain to either explain an environmental and health related crisis, or to explain the process which led to said crisis, and to pair that information with visual aids. As an overall writing piece, it is simple by design, so there was no need for complex transitions, and the information used conveys the point clearly enough. More importantly, while the charts are not exactly the ones in the ‘drawn from’ examples, they do accomplish two goals: they all tell different information, and the information they tell can link together to bolster the explanation made just before. As a start to the use of visual communication, it was very successful, and with some formatting, could make for a convincing article.

On the topic of formatted documents, the usability letter and business correspondence definitely prove that I have become much more comfortable with writing formal documents. Once I understood the purpose and expected length of the usability letter, it took little time to plan out its format. It also helped me to list out all of the technical points (numbers, tests, times, etc.) so that I knew what had to be mentioned. The correspondence letter was more of a retread of a previously done document, meaning I approached this as a chance to quiz myself on corporate lettering without the need for a reference to set up. The writing is well organized and the only real issue was the lack of a written signature at the end. The only real difficulty for either of these was figuring out a topic to write about, but that has little to do with reflection.

On their own, each of the technical communication pieces I have written over the last few months show are good in their own right, but as parts of the timeline of my developing skills are evidence of substantial improvement. I require far less aid to get myself started, I am getting used to using visuals as communication, and my writing has become smoother and more concise. While more practice will never hurt, it is good to have proof that none of that effort Is going to waste.


Setting Aside for a Self Assessment

It has been one full month since the beginning of the new semester. This means that a whole new collection of writings has been submitted, graded, and returned for reference. Starting out I had very little knowledge of technical communications – what they entailed, how to write them, the proper formats and address details – and as a result, I had little confidence in the quality of the early work that I turned out. In hindsight, however, my opinion may have been based on something preconceived, wrong, and blown far out of proportions.

The complaint and adjustment letters – written cooperatively – were my first proper ventures into writing technical communications. My only advantage was that I was a naturally formal letter writer. Proper introduction, a detailed explanation, and end with a formal request the letter was originally written for. Because of this, the complaint letter was relatively easy for me to write, with the exception of finding a proper way to organize the details so that all related matters were written close together, and nothing hopefully repeated. The adjustment letter was more complicated to write, because it does not conform to the standards of a request letter like a complaint letter can. An adjustment letter has to be an appropriate response, not a returned complaint. Thankfully I had ready access to my textbook to show me a proper way to write an adjustment letter, so I did not have to dwell on my confusion for very long. However, it quickly dawned on me afterward that this was going to become more complex than a standard essay.

The incident report form and the meeting minute both were handled the exact same way; reworking online samples – the formats anyway – and filled in the blanks. Neither of these were difficult, seeing as they both were very much a fill-in-the-blanks kind of technical communication. This is especially true for the incident report, because it was based on a proper company report form. The only difficulties I found here were what to use to fill the forms. The best I could work with was a combination of warning I was told working with my father and in my high school’s metal workshop. Various bits including how to manage the printers, safety precautions when using the cutting tools, and how to manage the amount of material you are working with. The meeting minutes were based off of various conversations I had with other people, and meetings that were going on near me while I was working. I am incredibly grateful that I had some form of real world experience to put into this work.

My current portfolio of work this semester is still rather small all things considered, and the quality of my work, frankly, has made very little improvement. For the first four assignments I was given, I approached them all in the exact same manner; finding a sample, changing the story, and fluffing up the vocabulary. The one thing that has changed is my understanding of what is entailed in a technical communication. I simply need to keep my focus sharp when looking for erroneous details.