ABC Conference Week: Day 1

Sarah Paterson – ENG-PWR ‘15


For the CUPID Blog this week, I’ll be reporting on the Association for Business Communication (ABC) conference that I attended in Philadelphia last Thursday and Friday. I was a part of a panel with two other PWR students, Rachel Fishman and Rachel Lewis, and Dr. Rebecca Pope-Ruark about including student voices in scholarship of teaching and learning. But the panel was only a short part of our two-day stint at the conference – we saw and did a lot more than talk about class!


One thing that we were able to do when we weren’t busy presenting, helping out at the registration desk, or snacking during the super-good coffee breaks was attend presentation sessions. On Thursday, we went to two sessions. The first session was about using technology to aid learning, and consisted of the following three presentations:


Presentation #1: Two professors, Susan Luck (Pfeiffer University) and Alan Belcher (Ashford University), discussed different websites that they encourage students to use. These included some old standbys that Elon students are accustomed to using – Prezi, Google Drive, Twitter – but had some new ideas that we found interesting, and that might be useful to our classmates. Check these out: thesis and outline generator, spelling and grammar checker, and an online voice recorder that creates a shareable link.


Presentation #2: The second presentation, by Jamie Granger (Florida Atlantic University), was about software that professors could use to grade their papers for them. This presentation was actually what had drawn us to the session. As Writing Center consultants, the three of us were all intrigued and slightly disturbed by the idea that the future of feedback might lie in robot assessment. The professor giving the presentation did not seem to have a definitive answer about whether auto-grading was a good idea, but he did discuss ways that auto-grading could be integrated into a professor’s routine.


Presentation #3: The last presentation, by Rita Owens (Boston College), discussed an inventive assignment that made use of technology to engage students. For the assignment, students visited a local restaurant and wrote a full review as a group using Google Docs. Reviews were then presented for the class and filmed, so that students could learn to both perform appropriately for and critique video.


Of the three presentations, we found the first presentation the most useful. The second session we attended was much more rhetoric-based, and used non-profits as an anchor to discuss different rhetorical strategies in business communication.


Presentation #1: This presentation by Tana Schiewer, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, covered mission statements for non-profits. She considered the idea that perhaps organizations need more than one mission statement to serve different rhetorical purposes and audiences. For example, an organization might need a separate mission statement for its employees, to dictate corporate culture, and for its customers, to tell them about the values behind a specific product.


Presentation #2: Brian Gogan, a Western Michigan University bus-com professor, talked about rhetorical strategies for making pitches to investors when trying to start a new non-profit. He reviewed five different popular press books about making pitches, and looked to find one that was adaptable for different purposes and considered audience above flashy, “easy” pitch strategies. He suggested that those interested in both rhetoric and entrepreneurship check out No Sweat Elevator Speech, by Fred Miller.


Presentation #3: Ashley Patriarca spoke about the grant writing class that she teaches at West Chester University. She focused on the three primary appeals that novice grant writers use when drafting their initial proposal: the “data, data, data” strategy, the “if it bleeds, it leads” strategy, and the “what we do is great, but here’s how we can make it better” strategy. The latter option seems to be a combination of both logos and pathos, and gets students engaged in building an organization’s ethos (without getting bogged down by the difficult, often sad work of non-profits!).


Lots of exciting stuff going on in rhetoric research! Check back on Wednesday to see what we did on day two of the conference.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 29, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    This conference was such a great opportunity to learn about how others apply rhetorical theory (or in some cases, don’t seem to) in classrooms and the scholarship of teaching and learning. As Sarah discussed, the presentations were all so different. We didn’t quite know what to think of the online essay grading software, hoping we were missing something and it wasn’t as horrible as it seemed. The presentations in that session made me realize how using the grammar checking software can actually be useful for a general lower-level editing round. But I am still very fearful of the potential for overuse of online grading software, both on behalf of professors and of students. In my opinion, it needs to stay as a first-round, basic grammar editing move, not a “I copied, pasted, and got a grade and am done” type of deal. Students need to see the value in correct grammar and sentence structure as a means of communicating ideas effectively, rather than just seeing these elements as the “end” in of themselves.

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  1. By ABC Conference Week: Day 2 on October 29, 2014 at 8:04 am

    […] (If you’d like to see what Rachel Fishman, Rachel Lewis, and I did on our first day at the Association for Business Communication conference in Philadelphia, click here!) […]