assignment #4

Assignment #4: Defining a Term for Two Distinct Audiences

  • Due:
  • EXPERT definition due with separate audience description:
  • NON-EXPERT definition due with separate audience description:
  • Length: 150-200 words for each audience description; 250+ words for each definition

This assignment allows you to explore a potential project topic, gives you practice writing for different audiences, and focuses on the underrated but essential skill of being able to define a term in a brief, concise way.

You will choose one term related to your potential topic, and you’ll define it for two distinct audiences.  The first definition you’ll turn in will be written to an expert or practitioner in the field – someone with comparable knowledge of your topic as you possess (or you will possess); in other words, a peer. You must consider the purpose for this definition (why would the audience need/want this definition) and the format/genre (in what type of publication would the audience access this definition – your final version should mimic this format).

The second definition of the exact same term will be written for a specific lay audience with no special knowledge of the field but who still needs an understanding of it. Again, you must consider the purpose for this definition (why would the audience need/want this definition) and the format/genre (in what type of publication would the audience access this definition – your final version should mimic this format).

Remember that although you are defining the same term, you will not be writing the same content using different language. Because these two audiences have different base knowledge, you must adjust your content – and the techniques you use – to match the particular audience.

For each definition, you’ll first write a full description of your audience, including the context within which they need your definition.  You’ll spend roughly one-half page describing them in detail – job titles aren’t sufficient; I’ll be looking for evidence of a very specific understanding of whom you are writing for.

Our readings and class discussion will provide guidance for this assignment. There are nine generally accepted techniques for writing extended definitions, and you will need to figure out the best one(s) for each of your audiences, depending on their knowledge, the purpose for which they will be reading this definition, and the format/genre of your definition. Your grade will be determined based on your ability to describe two distinct audiences; how well you define the same term to these different audiences; and your use of one or more of the techniques of definition, as well as on the overall organization, clarity, and preciseness of your text.

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