Ttu Tcr Dissertations

Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology

The art, history, and theory of persuasion, argumentation, and expression and how such activities are applied and taught.


Of the 27 graduate courses available in the TCR program, the following focus especially on rhetoric, composition, and technology:

5060 History and Theory of Composition. Seminar in history and contemporary theories of composition and rhetoric studies. Required for all new teaching assistants and graduate part-time instructors.

5361 Introduction to Rhetorical Theory. Classical and modern theories of rhetorical invention.

5362 Rhetorical Analysis of Text. Classical and modern theories of rhetorical analysis.

5364 History of Rhetoric. Survey of history and theories of rhetoric with an emphasis on applications to written communication.

5368 Studies in Written Argumentation. History and theories of written argumentation.

5369 Discourse and Technology. Study of the effects of computer networks and digitally mediated knowledge management on theoretical, practical, and pedagogical notions of discourse and discourse communities.

Note: All courses may be repeated for credit when the topic varies.

Selected Dissertation and Publication Titles

  • Rhetorical Organization in Contemporary Chinese and English Argumentation: A Contrastive and Comparative Study
  • Understanding Users Undergoing Change: An Examination of an Innovative Hybrid First-Year Composition Course
  • "New Process, New Product:  Redistributing Labor in a First-Year Writing Program."
  • "Argument in Hypertext: Writing Strategies and the Problem of Order in a Non-Sequential World"
  • "Writing Dialogically: Bold Lessons from Electronic Text."
  • "The Necessity of Teaching Intercultural Communication Competence in Literacy Classes"

Brandon Strubberg

Examining the Shift to Patient Centeredness: Patient-Centered Communication Practices in the American Diabetes Association's Complete Guide to Diabetes

Amy Koerber (chair), Brian Still, Joyce Locke Carter

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine declared that patient centeredness was one of its pillars of quality healthcare, signaling a change to the traditional biomedical model. The fifth edition of the American Diabetes Association's (ADA's) Complete Guide to Diabetes, published in 2011, claims to embrace this era of patient centeredness. This study uses a mixed-methods approach comprised of rhetorical analysis, reading reception and eye tracking, and critical theory, to examine the patient-centered communication practices that the ADA implements in its manual. Specifically, the present study is designed to answer the following research questions:

· Compared with past iterations of the ADA's manual, what design practices are implemented in the fifth edition to create the semblance of patient-centered communication?

· How do people with diabetes experience and respond to these patient-centered rhetorical devices in the context of the rhetoric of managed care?

· Can eye-tracking methods be triangulated with rhetorical analysis effectively to study these kinds of questions?

I conducted a rhetorical analysis of the fourth and fifth editions of the ADA's Complete Guide to Diabetes to identify patient-centered design moves made in the two editions of the manual. I then conducted an eye-tracking study—adapted from traditional reading reception studies—to observe how participants engaged those design elements during reading. I also performed pre- and post-test interviews during the eye-tracking study to determine relevant subjective life experiences that affected the ways in which the participants experienced the texts.

The rhetorical analysis component of the present study found that the fifth edition of the manual makes effective use of design and rhetorical appeals in its text that more closely aligns with the concepts of patient centeredness and patient-centered communication practices than does the fourth edition of the manual.

The eye-tracking portion of the study provided observational data—gaze plots and heat maps—of participants' reading behaviors. While these data were interesting, it was the pre- and post-test interviews that provided especially astute subjective insights as participants discussed their reading experiences in the context of their lives with diabetes. Ultimately, more participants preferred the user-centered design of the fifth edition than those who preferred the fourth edition of the ADA's manuals.

Combining two approaches, rhetorical analysis and eye tracking, proved to be an interesting, but potentially unnecessary mode for identifying both empirical and interpretive results for the present study. Each method seemingly corroborated the other's findings, but the interviews were essential to understanding how the readers subjectively responded to the design choices whereas the eye-tracking data were merely additive.

Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor of Technical and Professional Communication, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX


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