RE: Technical Writing Certifications

Subject: RE: Technical Writing Certifications
From: "Lauren" <lt34 -at- csus -dot- edu>
To: "'Dori Green'" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2007 08:59:53 -0700

> From: Dori Green

> Heck, I'd be very pleased if STC developed a basic test and
> certification like Manpower uses for its temporary
> secretaries. A BS or
> even MS in Tech Writing/Communications/English does not
> guarantee that I
> will not still have to spend a lot of my time correcting typos,
> spelling, and grammar errors. Certification of basic "core
> competencies" in those three specific areas would bring a
> candidate to a
> significantly higher position on my "let's take a closer look" list.
> With those three covered, I next want to see evidence that they have a
> clue about how to use their brain to organize and prioritize
> information. It doesn't have to be organized and prioritized the same
> way that I would do it, but they have to show me that they
> have a clue.
> Of course I could teach all of those skills. But if somebody is
> presenting themselves as a professional tech writer, I should not have
> to!

"I could teach you, but I'd have to charge." Isn't there a song like that?

I think the club seems divided on whether tech writers should be
certifiable, er, certified, but there does seem to be some interest in
certification. I think we should look at this from the perspective of what
would be involved in the certification process. Multiple choice test
questions are favored in many processes because they can be more objective
and they don't require a person to analyze the answer, which can get
expensive. But technical writing involves writing, so a multiple choice
exam can be tricky.

If an ideal exam was developed, would success on the exam really measure the
quality of a candidate? This could be a factor in determining the value of
certification. At a minimum, I would like certification that required
passing a basic grammar and spelling test. The test should include
punctuation and other elements, but may need to avoid controversial
elements, like comma lists and closing punctuation inside or outside of
quotes. Basic analysis should also be tested, but may need to be something
like "read this dialogue from and end-user and select the best option that
describes the process."

I think that the discussion could have more value if there was a test or a
design for a test that we could analyze.



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RE: Technical Writing Certifications: From: Dori Green

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