Basic Rhetorical Analysis Overview Help
Project 1: Basic Rhetorical Analysis
Technical communication is meant to be used and not just read. Good technical communication communicates information to an audience who will act on that information in a variety of ways: in making hiring decisions, in following technical procedures, in developing research plans, and more. In this assignment, you will evaluate the usability of a piece of technical communication. That is, you will analyze whether the document effectively communicates the necessary information to its audience and where it fails to do so. In this way, the assignment will introduce you to basic elements of technical communication.
Your analysis should demonstrate that you understand the basic principles of technical communication discussed in the first chapter of your textbook. The process you will follow in this assignment is relatively straightforward: using the analysis points provided below and in Chapter 1 of Technical Communication, you will study a document and then determine how well it relies (or doesn’t) on effective technical communication practices. You will then present your analysis in a memo to your instructor.
There are three steps to this assignment:
Choose one of the following files to analyze: an application Download application
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, a manual Download manual, or a handbook Download handbook.
Students and parents use the application to apply for federal student aid; volunteers and others use the manual to help them maintain a trail system; lab workers and visitors use the handbook to maintain safety in Penn State laboratories. These documents are representative of technical communication.
Note: You may also choose your own example of technical communication to analyze for this project. However, be sure to obtain your instructor’s approval for the document you choose before beginning your planning work.
Evaluate your chosen document for usability. This will involve reading the document carefully, paying attention to the features that enable use. (In other words, how did the author structure the document so that readers could access and use the information effectively and efficiently?) Follow the specific points of analysis below.
Write a memo to your instructor that organizes your rhetorical analysis in both a logical and convincing way. (Your instructor is your audience.) Follow the memo format described in Chapter 14 of Technical Communication. Here are additional guidelines:
Be concrete in your analysis. That is, use examples from the document as you make your key points.
Be sure to analyze and not just describe the document. This will require you to evaluate—and pass judgment on—both content and design.
Be sure your analysis is well organized. Use headings and focused paragraphs to scaffold your analysis.
Your analysis should be 2 single-spaced pages (approximately 1000 words). Therefore, you must be as concise as possible. However, don’t mistake brevity for superficiality. Be sure to produce a high-quality analysis that shows you can look at a technical document with a critical eye.
In Chapter 1 of Technical Communication, you will find the following set of characteristics for technical communication:
Addresses particular readers
Helps readers solve problems
Reflects an organization’s goals and culture
Is produced collaboratively
Uses design to increase readability
Consists of words or images or both
Use these characteristics to organize your analysis. Be sure that your analysis addresses each of these six areas appropriately.
Your project will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
Completeness. The analysis appropriately addresses all of characteristics of effective technical communication. The analysis demonstrates that you have learned about the basic elements of technical communication.
Organization. The analysis is well organized. It has a clear structure supported by headings.
Support. The analysis is concrete in that it uses examples from the document to support major points.
Interpretation. The analysis interprets, analyzes, passes judgment—it does not just describe.
Style. The analysis is well written. Topic sentences are clear.
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