Whether to coordinate teamwork, teach a class, manage relationships, rally support, frame an issue, or sway opinion, people rely on words to do things in the world. Often, the effectiveness of those words relies on the typicality of their expression, on settings, on the affordances of form, on genres, and on uptake. The patterned ways that words do work in the world can be systematically studied and expressed in ways that characterize both the strength of those patterns and the richness of their rhetorical character. This course teaches just such a method.
The course begins with readings about words and the work they do. The majority of the class from that point will be hands on. Our object will be to understand how spoken and written language shapes a variety of activities (e.g., design, instruction, counseling, peer review, gaming interactions, e-commerce, and so on), how those uses can be tracked as verbal data (e.g., syntactically, semantically, topically), how we can formulate research questions about those uses, and how we can answer those questions through quantitatively-expressed, descriptive means.
We will learn about sampling, strategies for collecting and managing data, coding techniques, achieving coding reliability, analyzing data using descriptive statistical measures, and reporting the results in visually and verbally compelling ways.