Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Arts in Writing



Committee Chair

Christine Biava


Perhaps one of the most practical elements of the technical communication classroom is the client-based project. Students work with the intellectual property of their client and others to solve communication and design problems. However, complex legalities—copyright law—accompany intellectual property. Due to the nature of our profession, it is paramount that technical communication students understand copyright law and how to navigate its implications in the realms of academia and the professional workplace. Therefore, the study at hand investigates copyright explanations in common technical communication textbooks and how well technical communication students and faculty understand those explanations. To fill the gap in the current literature, 22 technical communication students and six faculty members read passages from technical communication textbooks and answered survey questions about what they read. Using Stanley Fish's (2003) idea of an interpretive community as a theoretical framework, results indicate the participants came to similar conclusions about what they read in the passages, revealing outlets for improving and revising copyright explanations to facilitate understanding. Results also show students lack understanding of copyright law.


copyright law, copyright vs. plagiarism, interpretive communities in technical communication, plagiarism, technical communication pedagogy, technical communication students, technical communication textbooks

Subject Categories

Creative Writing


© Hunter Stanton Auman

Campus Only