TPC Degree Programs
Following are map locations of degree programs that appear in TechComm Programmatic Central. Below the maps is a brief explanation of how programs got into the data set.
Bachelor Degree Programs
View TPC Undergraduate Degrees in a full screen map
Emphasis Degree Programs
These are degrees in [a field] with an emphasis/track/concentration in TPC.
View Emphasis degrees in TPC in a full screen map
View Undergraduate Certificates in TPC in a full screen map
View Minor degrees in TPC in a full screen map
Masters Degree Programs
View TPC Masters’ Degrees in a full screen map
View Graduate Certificates in TPC in a full screen map
Online Degree Programs
View Online TPC programs in a full screen map
Note on Method
<excerpt from book project>
…I then went to each institution’s website and proceeded to verify if the school on my preliminary list did indeed offer a degree in TPC. As the official declaration of an institution’s programs and curricula, the university catalog serves as a quasi-legal contract between university and student. While all course catalogs contain a disclaimer of legality, they are the most reliable data source publicly available. When I use the word “verify,” I mean that I looked to see if a program did actually exist, and if so, I gathered information about it. As a public record that verifies and supports the legitimacy of the academic enterprise, if TPC appears in the catalog, it is a real program. Course catalogs are also a distinct genre with similar characteristics that makes finding and comparing data easier (a point also made by Frank, Wong, Myers, & Ramirez, 2000). Additionally, the catalog becomes an artifact in the institution’s academic history, and a large majority of universities archive their course catalogs either electronically or in the institution’s special collections. Having these long-term records means the research method is fully replicable (going forward and backward) and based on documents that are not ephemeral (e.g. department Web sites or program checklists).
The primary criterion that never changed and can be applied across all types of programs is that the institution had to offer a TPC degree in a general sense. This criterion replicates the method used in earlier field-wide programmatic analysis (refer to Keene, 1997, pp. xi-xiv).
Matthew Lombard and his collaborators (2018) define intercoder reliability (also referred to as interrater) as “the extent to which independent coders can analyze the same texts using the same categorizing (coding) scheme and reach the same decisions”, and it “allows researchers to argue for the consistency, and by extension, the validity of their findings” (p. 722). The goal of intercoder reliability is to have “two or more coders independently analyze a set of texts (usually a subset of the study sample) by applying the same coding instrument” (Lombard, et al., 2017, p. 723). I have appended the prefix, quasi, to the term to make clear that I have am using a modified approach to intercoder reliability.
For my project, raters were used to determine what programs would “qualify” as a TPC program and which ones would not. Raters reviewed the curriculum data compiled in the spreadsheets. Lots of decisions had to be made through numerous conversations, and these conversations were similar to approach and spirit to what Peter Smagorinsky (2008) has called “collaborative coding,” which “provides a means through which levels of expertise may emerge through the process of discussion in relation to data” (402). While Smagorinsky is specifically discussing coding, the same process occurred as discussions were made about whether a program was a TPC program. I used at least two people at every stage of data collection. One of those people self-identified as a TPC academic teacher/scholar and the other self-identified as a TPC professional working outside of higher education. The raters changed through the course of the project, and in all, I used eight academic raters and nine working professional raters.
Often programs were excluded not because of what courses they offered, but rather by what courses they did not offer. “The field of technical communication is in many ways inscribed by technology. As a result, technical communication programs not only must provide students with a foundation in the theory and practice of the field, but also must give students some level of proficiency in the technology tools they will need to put that knowledge into service in the workplace” (Brumberger, 2003, p. 64). Thus, even with the field’s ongoing critique and discussion of the role of technology instruction in programs (e.g., Albers, 2022; Duin et al., 2021; Salvo, 2002) the instruction and emphasis of technology throughout the program ended up being a key marker as to whether a program qualified as a program. Closely related was the need for programs to have an emphasis on production. Students needed to be asked to make things. If a program did not have courses where students produced professional genres with and through technology then those programs were excluded. Thus, many programs, even if they called their degree program “professional writing,” (or some other variation of the name), were excluded from the dataset because the degree program did not include courses with a substantial technology and/or did not include a clear and integrated emphasis on production.
Without doubt, this process and the criteria that emerged can be critiqued in any number of ways. But, with all research projects, decisions are made to move the project forward, and decisions are made to provide clear boundaries for the project. However, I went into this project (as noted above) wanting to see how well programs were preparing students for the workplace, which includes daily writing in a variety of genres and formats mediated through technology. For TPC, the learning outcomes for a program have to include an emphasis on production or a theory to practice if those terms are preferred. The growing number of writing degrees indicates a strength in the field can offer to students, but different types of degrees can and should have different and clear learning outcomes. Those differences do matter to students, and TPC PAs should attend to those differences. Thus, the sample approach I used is but one approach that is embedded in my own belief that curricula should align with learning outcomes and those outcomes should align with the knowledges and skills necessary to find a job. Different degree programs can have different approaches, which is why it is easy to spot a TPC degree and see how it is different from a generalized writing degree. I encourage others to approach sampling differently, which will only afford the field important differing perspectives. </excerpt from book project>