TecCOM - Profession of Technical Communication

Communication and culture

Communication theory and models

Technical communication is one of the most common subsets within organisational communication. It encompasses a range of disciplines that act jointly to communicate complex information to a variety of audiences, who need the information to accomplish a given task or goal.

Given that technical communication is essentially about communicating, technical writers should gain a clear understanding of the core concepts, theories and methods of effective and user-centered communication, which takes into account the communicative situation and conditions of cognitive processing of information. Technical writers also need to be aware of the cross-connections between technical communication and Corporate Communication on the one hand, and marketing communication on the other hand.

The focus is on categories for describing the external communicative situation and the internal cognitive situation that the text participates in, and the links between the two. Finally, technical communication is positioned relative to integrated marketing communication.

Basic communication theory
  • Understand difference between transmission, constructionist and interaction approach (e.g., Transmission Model, Constructionist Model, Process Oganisation Theory)
  • Understand difference between verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Understand multimodal nature of communication (e.g., discourse semiotics)
Communicative situation

Understand difference between relevant parts of communicative situations: Sender, receiver, context (e.g., time, place, social difference between sender and receiver), functions (e.g., instruction, information, expressive function)

see also language skills

Information processing model and cognitive conditions
  • Know about components of cognitive information processing models (e.g., mental models, perception and assimilation, working memory, prior knowledge)
  • Understand the effects of cognitive conditions (e.g., stress, motivation)
  • Understand text processing levels: Basal perception (assimilation), semantic-syntactic processing (coherence), collaborative processing (understanding and prior knowledge), reductive processing (selection), reconstructive processing (use of knowledge), reading modes
Intelligibility, readability, legibility
  • Understand basic difference between text-based and audience-based approaches
  • Apply specific approaches to describing processes of understanding with special relevance for specific education as well as associated problems and recommendations for improving and optimising texts (e.g., Common Ground Theory of Communication, Grice’s conversation maxims, qualitative intelligibility models (Hamburg Intelligibility Model, intelligibility dimensions and corporate communication according to Groeben, Karlsruher Model of Intelligibility)
  • Identify factors relevant for process of understanding information and information-product related factors at various levels (e.g., structural, word, sentence and text level, jargon and terminology, spelling and grammar, tone of voice, images, medium (e.g., information density) and target-group related factors (e.g., prior knowledge))
  • Recognise degrees of difficulty of texts and factors that influence the difficulty of texts
  • Use methods of measurement for assessing intelligibility, readability, legibility (e.g., legibility and intelligibility measures)

see also evaluation and user experience

see also content development

Corporate communication theory
  • Know about different types of corporate communication  (e.g., internal and external communication, marketing, public relations, investor relations, employer branding, …)
  • Understand the roles and place of technical communication within corporate communication
  • Know about corporate identity and approaches to corporate identity

see also content development

Integrated marketing communication
  • Understand the principles of integrated marketing communication
  • Understand the relation between integrated marketing communication (IMC) and integrated technical communication (ITC)
  • Know about the principles of content marketing and the importance of consistent content as a business asset
  • Know the importance of creating content that resonates with target audiences and search engines
  • Know about different marketing messages, media, and channels
  • Know different marketing communication activities (e.g., brands, advertising in the real and virtual world, public relations)
  • Know about digital marketing strategies
  • Know about the basics of consumer psychology
  • Know about strategies for internal marketing and self-marketing
Professional communication
  • Define and exemplify specialised discourse
  • Understand the differences between professional and interprofessional communication (e.g. professional and non-professional audiences)

see also language skills

Genres and genre conventions in professional contexts
  • Understand the basic idea of genre
  • Analyse collections of text to find genre conventions
  • Apply knowledge of genre conventions in text production
  • Understand linguistic features of technical communication (e.g. word choices, sentence, paragraph and document structures, orthography)

see also content development