George Pullman, Professor of Critical Thinking and Writing.
Georgia State University's English 2105, Work-Place Based Writing and Research, is a collaborative effort between the Robinson College of Business, which supplies the students, and the College of Arts and Sciences, which supplies the teachers, although any student from any college can enroll. Faculty from any discipline with an interest in social scientific research methods are also encouraged to teach ENGL 2105. This class is the first inter-college collaboration of its kind at Georgia State University.
The is a class in the soft skills. Not soft in the sense of easy, but soft in the sense of difficult to quantify. In this class students will be introduced to and have a chance to practice the research methods used when trying to accurately identify what an audience, or a market segment, wants from and thinks about a product. They will learn how to design effective questionnaires and how to critique the results of dubious questionnaire designs. They will learn how to conduct in-person interviews and perform contextual observations -- a kind of ethnography but with a short term focus. Students will hone their writing skills, learn how to listen effectively, and learn how to give effective public presentations. Along the way they will also learn some basic data visualization ideas and practices.
The student learning outcomes are: thinking, listening, observing, writing, speaking, data visualization, and networking. Each student is assigned to a group who have to come up with a product (as yet unrealized or one based on an existing company) and then develop a pitch for the product based on the design of personas, interviews with potential buyers or clients, surveys of the same, and when possible, contextual observation of people using similar products or services. Each research iteration requires a written plan, a post-mortem, and a report. All of this work culminates in 7 minute pitches at the end of the semester.
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