Dr. Andy Fiss, STC-MGL member and Associate Professor of Technical & Professional Communication at Michigan Tech, was awarded a 2023 CCCC Technical and Scientific Communication Award for Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication. Andy and his book, Performing Math: A History of Communication and Anxiety in the American Mathematics Classroom, were honored at the CCCC Awards Presentation on Friday, February 17, during the 2023 CCCC Annual Convention.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Andy to ask him a few questions about his work. When I asked him how he found himself conducting research at the intersection of communication, anxiety, and mathematical instruction, he answered that he was a mathematics major as an undergrad. He reflected on the weird reactions and phrases like “I hate math” he received when he told people his major and recollected that other majors didn’t get the same type of response. As a result, he started thinking about the history of the pedagogy of mathematical instruction and became curious where where communication and anxiety arose in that early work. Notably, related studies are limited to high school mathematics instruction. His book expands on the general dread many people express toward math by analyzing several historical documents including songs and plays written about math education.
The selection committee awarded his book the title of Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication because it is “Compelling, well-researched, and a very interesting read. Though Fiss’s book focuses on the historical instruction of math, his ideas about classroom performance can be translated to other fields,” so I asked what can writers/communicators take away from your book, in or out of the classroom? He replied that this book is a collection of stories of past practices and can shed light on general approaches to helping make things unfamiliar more familiar, much like the work of technical communicators.
The selection committee also said “… It offers some insight into how we may accidentally create anxiety when producing technical communication.” In response to my question about how this happens, he explained that, for example, the pedagogical practice of “chalk talk” suddenly required that students not only demonstrate proficiency in mathematics but also oratory instantly. The connections between increasing demands for skills outside the purview of a subject may certainly ring true to the technical writer experience today.
We received a very nice note Thursday, March 31, from MaryKay Grueneberg, who is the Pacesetter Award Evaluation Committee Chair:
As a member of the Pacesetter Award Evaluation Committee, it is my honor and pleasure to inform you that the Southeastern Michigan Chapter has earned the Pacesetter Award for the 2015 activity year. The citation on your certificate will read:
“For successfully promoting STC webinars and sharing their benefits with your community through your creative ‘Choose Your Own Learning Adventure’ program”
Congratulations to all members of the Southeastern Michigan Chapter on a job well done and for being an example for all STC communities.
Throughout his tenure as a member of the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of STC, Thomas Glennan has been consistent, dedicated, and extremely professional. After a long career as a mechanical engineer, Tom undertook a career shift to technical communication and hasn’t looked back. Tom regularly shares his valuable career and business insight with other members of the STC/SM chapter through leading, presenting, and teaching.
Most recently, Tom served as Vice President and then President of our chapter. As president, he brought consistency to the role and a solid understanding of how to run meetings and hold others accountable for commitments and deadlines in a positive way. His work in the chapter has spanned other roles as well, including Secretary and Education Liaison. As an engineer, a college instructor, and the owner of a technical communication business, Tom is uniquely qualified to positively and practically influence his students and chapter members who are training to be future technical communicators. Even before he held an elected or named position on our chapter Council, he served as an unofficial professional liaison. As an active member of multiple STC chapters, he has helped us form new or stronger connections with those chapters, especially our neighbors in Northeast Ohio STC. He has also used his membership in SAE International to promote awareness of STC—and the technical communication profession in general—in the automotive engineering community.
Congratulations to Maryann Bowen, who was approved by the STC Board of Directors to receive the Distinguished Chapter Service Award (DCSA) for 2014! Maryann was recognized as a DCSA recipient at the recent STC Summit in Phoenix as well as in the online STC Notebook and in the May 2014 issue of Intercom.
The DCSA is bestowed in recognition of the recipient’s exemplary effort, energy and dedication to his or her community and its activities. Maryann was nominated for her commitment and service to the technical communication profession, and to STC-SM in particular. Whether it’s her service to the chapter by serving in a variety of elected and volunteer positions, her dedication to providing value for our chapter members or her tireless efforts to develop and present meaningful program events and speakers, Maryann has served as an inspiration and model we would all do well to emulate.
In recognition of her significant professional and personal accomplishments, Maryann was presented with her DCSA certificate at the STC-SM volunteer recognition dinner meeting held on June 25. Please make a point of congratulating and thanking Maryann when you see her at an upcoming STC-SM event.