Where teaching and research intersect
With the fall semester just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about changes to the editing course that I teach at UNC-Chapel Hill.
One area I’d like to focus on more is what research tells us about writing and editing. The objective of academic research, after all, is to create knowledge and make discoveries that can be shared with the world.
For several years, I have mentioned eyetracking research done by The Poynter Institute and similar work by a UNC colleague, Laura Ruel. Students have said that they liked learning about how readers read pages, both in print and online. They have also taken an interest in Poynter’s research about alternative story forms.
This semester, I will add the important research by Fred Vultee of Wayne State University that shows that readers value editing. Vultee presented his findings earlier this year at the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society and again at the recent AEJMC conference.
I’ll also mention a study in the current issue of Newspaper Research Journal that found that grammar errors hinder comprehension and damage credibility. (The study isn’t published online, unfortunately.)
I believe that it’s important to let students — and working journalists — know about research that speaks to our profession. That’s the central mission of efforts at ACES to encourage and promote research about editing.
I encourage others who teach editing and writing to include research as part of your classes. And if you know of studies that speak to those skills, please share that knowledge. I’d love to pass that information on to the writers and editors of the future.