Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Reyman, Jessica

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Workplace changes and the continuing evolution of how we define and practice technical communication require that we consider collaboration in ways we may not have imagined ten, five or even two years ago. The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic pushed our world and collaboration into additional and unanticipated directions. Since one of our responsibilities as educators is to prepare our students for success in the workplace and beyond, we must take a closer look at how we understand and teach collaboration in our classrooms. While collaboration appears in existing technical communication pedagogical models, it has been viewed as an element of social literacy or proficiency and is primarily focused on document creation. In order to meet the changing dynamics of the workplace, evolving technologies and the expanding influence of our field, we need to consider collaboration literacy beyond its social elements and assemble a teaching framework that enhances our students' actions related to collaboration and their beliefs and behaviors when engaging in collaborative activities.In this dissertation, I examine collaboration in the technical communication classroom in order to suggest a pedagogical approach which addresses this changing landscape and empowers students to achieve their future goals. Drawing on my academic and professional background and embracing the interdisciplinary nature of technical communication, I integrated workplace-based collaboration concepts into the classroom and examined my own classroom practices and the pedagogical approaches of others in the technical communication academic community. This dissertation includes three distinct research efforts and I have dedicated a chapter to each one. Chapter 2 presents a case study of three undergraduate technical writing courses to examine how workplace-based teamwork approaches can be used to teach collaboration. In this case study, I viewed collaboration through the lens of teamwork and studied how workplace-based collaboration approaches can contribute to teaching distributed, remote and virtual work. Chapter 3 studies how technical communication teachers and textbooks define, integrate, discuss and teach collaboration. This chapter presents the results of a survey of 28 technical communication teachers and an analysis of 10 technical communication textbooks. In Chapter 4, I study how incorporating a workplace-based communication platform (Slack) into an undergraduate technical communication course can contribute to students' collaboration literacy. The concluding chapter brings together my various research efforts and offers a framework for teaching the skills and competencies that are important for collaboration literacy. While this framework was constructed from a limited study, I believe it offers a structure for teaching the skills and competencies that are valuable for technical communication students to become literate in collaboration and teamwork.


302 pages




Northern Illinois University

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