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Research Collaborations

The Department of Writing Studies partners with a variety of groups and centers to work on collaborative research projects related to the writing studies discipline.

Virtual Reality & Oratorical Performance

Reconstructing Sites of Ancient Greek Oratorical Performance in Virtual Reality is part of a long-term study to catalog and classify structures from the late Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods (ca. 500-100 BCE) that staged performances of political and legal oratory. Richard Graff, a writing studies professor, is working with the University of Minnesota's Interactive Visualization Lab (IV/LAB) and collaborators at Pennsylvania State University to visualize ancient rhetoric. Specifically, this profect uses virtual reality to visualize ancient rhetoric as situated verbal performances in the hopes of better understanding how the physical settings of these performances structured and constrained the interactions that took place in them.

In the early stages of the project, visualizing 3D models of Greek-speaking sites life-size in virtual reality using a large, head-tracked stereoscopic display has already proven to be useful in evaluating the accuracy of site reconstructions. Current work includes animated real-time simulation of oral performance, acoustical simulation, and more. More information about the project can be found on the IV/LAB website.

Hennepin County Library Usability Testing

Associate Professor Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch's class, Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication (WRIT 4501), has an ongoing collaboration with the Hennepin County Library to user test the library’s website. "It's been eye-opening for us," said Hennepin County senior librarian Amy Luedtke, "and exciting to watch the user tests and listen to the test subjects think out loud." WRIT 4501 students also benefit from the experience of working with the needs and situation of a real-world client.

Wearables Research Collaboratory

Wearable devices—Fitbits, GoPro, Google Glass, Oculus Rift, Narrative2, smartwatches—are increasingly adopted and used in private, corporate, and university sectors. During 2014-2015, Drs. Ann Hill Duin and Joe Moses, along with Rhetoric & Scientific and Technical Communication PhD students Megan McGrath and Jason Tham, explored the impact of the Google Glass device on re-envisioning audience, developing multimodal compositions, and enriching peer review across undergraduate and graduate courses in composition and technical communication.

During 2015-2016, we are launching the Wearables Research Collaboratory (WRC), an open collaboration on wearables-related initiatives, projects, and ideas stemming from the burgeoning interest in wearables and their impact on users and their work. As a collaboratory, this represents an incubator for bold ideas, an environment where participants explore emerging wearables and share empirical direction for investigating the challenges and opportunities these technologies represent. We meet weekly. Please email if you’d like to join us!

OpenNotes Research Project

During the fall 2014 semester, Dr. Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch and a team of Writing Studies students collaborated with Dr. Craig Weinert, MD, to conduct interviews with hospitalized patients regarding the sharing of doctors' progress notes (OpenNotes) at the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC). Students interviewed patients about what they understood about their condition from the notes, what they liked or disliked about the notes, and how they felt reading about themselves as patients. Preliminary results indicated that patients strongly favored receiving the notes, citing reasons such as having a reference of the hospital stay, feeling more assured of the care they were receiving, and feeling more involved in their care. Read more about the project.

'WRIT VID' Project

In 2012, a team of graduate students, instructors and staff, led by Associate Professor Lee-Ann Kastman Bruech received a grant from the College of Liberal Arts to develop instructional video modules to enhance our undergraduate course, Technical and Professional Writing (WRIT 3562W). The goals of the project were to determine how to help students better understand how to use and critically evaluate writing technologies, and how we can better reach and engage online students in the class. In collaboration with CLA’s Office of Information Technology, the team created multiple instructional videos on topics such as plagiarism, peer review, and Gantt charts. Watch the videos on YouTube or read more about "'WRIT-VID' Project: Incorporating Multimodal Components into Text-Only Online Writing Instruction."