Andy Fiss Awarded Best Book in Technical or Scientific Communication at CCCC

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 His book expands on the general dread many people express toward math by analyzing several historical documents including songs and plays written about math education.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.  

Fiss has been the I am the faculty advisor for the STC student chapter at Michigan Tech and MGL member for 4 years. The book, published by Rutgers University Press, can be purchased at:

STC-MGL Virtual Open House

Join us on Thursday, September 29 for our virtual open house. The virtual open house is a great opportunity to learn about our incoming council, get an overview of our upcoming program plans, share ideas for the direction of our STC-MGL chapter, and ask questions.

We look forward to this year ahead, and we hope you will join us!

Spring Book Club – Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

Join us for our spring book club discussion, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris.

Register on Eventbrite for this special members-only event.

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker’s copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Readers—and writers—will find in Norris neither a scold nor a softie but a wise and witty new friend in love with language and alive to the glories of its use in America, even in the age of autocorrect and spell-check. As Norris writes, “The dictionary is a wonderful thing, but you can’t let it push you around.”

A Peek Inside the InfoDev Academy

Join Tina M. Kister for a behind-the-scenes look at the new online  community and learning platform designed specifically for people who specialize in creating usable content.

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Information developers create fact-based, usable content, and we often face a range of unique challenges, such as deadlines that don’t reflect content-development realities, subject-matter experts who are busy with other projects, supervisors with expertise in areas other than content development, and more. Many of these challenges are the result of a siloed approach that makes it difficult to share knowledge and to explain to others the tremendous value we provide.

The InfoDev Academy promotes an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach that empowers its members to create high-quality content and, as a result, advance their careers, make more money, and thrive in the workplace.

Join Tina M. Kister for a discussion that includes:

  • A tour of the platform
  • The mission, vision, and roadmap for the InfoDev Academy
  • An introduction to the premier program: Science-Based Content Design©
  • An invitation to become a founding member and help shape the future of the InfoDev Academy

You’ll learn about:

    1. The stages of perception.
    2. The importance of difference in design.
    3. Science-Based design basics.

About the presenter

Tina M. Kister is the founder of the InfoDev Academy, an online learning and community platform for people who specialize in content-based communications. Kister is dedicated to improving the lives of information developers by empowering them to be successful. She champions a unified, interdisciplinary approach, and has been called a “thought leader” and “change agent.” With a background in both creative and technical communications, as well as certifications in technical communication (CPTC), project management (PMP), proposal management (APMP), and content strategy, Kister provides a rare perspective that synthesizes best practices across traditionally siloed areas of business communications.

Kister is also the creator of Science-Based Content Design©, which is a framework for creating content that aligns with how human beings naturally perceive and process information.

Style Guides for Technical Writing: Why and How

Consistency and clarity are core technical writing principles and following a defined style is a key ingredient.

This program will include a presentation on the why and how of style guides for technical writing, along with a segment for participants to share lessons learned and ask questions.

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About the presenter

Peggy Frizzo has been active in STC for more than 20 years. Her background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in English and nine years as technical training specialist before taking on a role as technical writer. She currently leads a team of software technical writers at Dematic Corp, a global company with several technical writing teams.