- The program (discipline) that interests you
- The program guide you would use in that field and things in it
- Analysis of one organization or website from the discipline
- Tips for communicating with folks in that discipline
What is a discourse community?
You learned earlier that writing does not exist in a vacuum, that it is a conversation between writer and reader. One scholar, Erik Borg, says that “We do not generally use language to communicate with the world at large, but with individuals or groups of individuals…these groups are gathered into communities.”
Each of us belongs to a number of these groups (called discourse communities). If you stop at a coffee shop routinely, you are a member of that community. Members know what the “rules” are for communicating with each other, what kind of greeting is used, what the standard length of comments is, what kind of comments are acceptable, and what kind are not. Other discourse communities might be related to activities with children, fitness, or church. You can probably think of examples of a conversation topic or a greeting that would be acceptable at the gym but not at church. In this assignment, you are going to look at the communication that occurs in one of your discourse communities, the one formed by an interest in a specific field of study (major, program, or discipline).
How do I learn about the discourse community in my field?
What will you be looking for? You will be looking at the kinds of reading and writing members of the community do; the expectations and rules (conventions) for the communication; the way they communicate with each other online; and other tips that help you understand this group.
How will you do this exploration? You will start by looking at the information linked below, first the course catalog and then in guides designed by the APUS Library staff to help researchers in the field. If your program is not listed in the 10 programs shown below, then go to this link to find your program (or one that interests you if you haven’t selected a program yet): Research Guides by Program. The university catalog has info on all programs, in case yours isn’t listed below.
Once I’ve learned about my field’s discourse community, what do I do with that information?
After you have looked at the catalog description, the research guide, and information in that guide (including an organization or website), complete the following report about the way the people in your program communicate. A template of this report is attached for your convenience. Replace the sample answers with your own words. Save it with a title like this: Smith Robert Report on Communication.