The Writing Landscape in Computer Science

Many general education courses required by the CS major involve writing in college. Writing in various forms is a critical component of many required courses within the major. In addition, there is increasing support by many in the field of Writing Studies that programming itself is a form of writing and coding literacy.[1] CS programs at most colleges, including SLCC, offer a course in Software Engineering. A significant component of that course focuses on activities in the IT industry, such as gathering project requirements, proposing solutions to the problem, and project management. All of these activities involve writing.

Most CS professionals work in IT Departments among teams of other IT professionals. An IT department in a mid-to-large-sized company might look something like this:


Figure 4.1: Example Structure of an IT Department, John Gordon, Salt Lake Community College, CC BY-NC.

In Figure 4.1, the Management group would include senior IT personnel, such as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and other senior managers who oversee broad areas of the department. This team manages all IT operations for the company and acts as the liaison between the IT Department and business management. Writing of correspondence, documentation, project proposals, employee evaluations, task assignments, and other forms of writing are everyday activities for these professionals.

Consultants, in this example, are IT professionals who do not work for the company as employees; instead, they are employed as contractors temporarily to assist the company in achieving specific goals. These IT professionals are often off site and work remotely with the internal IT staff. Consultants are often involved in writing activities in similar ways: as managers, as business professionals themselves, and as members of the teams they work with within the company.

IT Departments are usually segmented into teams, each focusing on specific areas of the business’s technological needs. For example, the Software Development team would include Computer Programmers, Web Developers, Quality Assurance Engineers, Test Engineers, Software Engineers, etc. This team would be responsible for creating and maintaining all software in the business, from the company website to financial, database, system, and user applications. In IT environments such as this, written communication is very common within the teams, the IT Department, and the entire business. Team members may correspond with others in the company and with customers, contractors, vendors, and the public outside of the company. Within the context of their day-to-day work, these professionals are often tasked with maintaining documentation, writing instructions and results of testing, updating the status of projects within project management software, and responding to questions and concerns of others through written communication.

  1. Vee, Annette. Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming is Changing Writing. The MIT Press, 2017.


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