As any former technical communications student can tell you, in the hands of the wrong professor, technical writing subjects can seem dry, abstract, and even boring at times. That’s why this recent article on The Western Front drew our interest. The article features English professor Michael Bell, and his teaching methodology for his English 302 class, Introduction to Technical and Professional Writing.
Bell has his students write instructions and rules for a game they create. He points out that “If a student is able to write a set of rules for a game, they’ll know how to write a professional document.” Makes sense to us. The benefits of such a teaching method include:
- Classmates get to play the game and then give feedback on how easy it was to interact with the game manual
- By working with a game, students are more inclined to not only have fun, but to make sure it works as described
- Because games are something tangible students can readily relate to in the real world, class concepts don’t seem so abstract
- It allows students to focus on a single project while still coming away with the principles and concepts of the course
Bell found that by allowing students to learn old concepts in a new way, they cared more about the work they did instead of viewing it as just another assignment. When students care about – and can feel a passion for – what they are doing, the result can only be positive. Don’t you agree?
What are your thoughts on Bell’s teaching method? As a teacher or student of technical communications subjects, have you experienced similar methodologies or other approaches you felt were very effective? Please leave a comment, we’d love to hear your thoughts.