February 3, 2023

Award-Winning Research: Rebecca Walton, Professor of Technical Communication & Rhetoric

By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor

Professor Rebecca Walton assisting a TCR graduate studentProfessor Rebecca Walton works with a TCR graduate student (Photo credit: Nathan Stewart)

Rebecca Walton, professor of technical communication and rhetoric, has recently been honored with two Conference on College Composition and Communication awards. Walton and her co-authors won 2023 CCCC Technical and Scientific Communication Awards for Best Article on Philosophy or Theory and Best Original Collection of Essays in the technical or scientific communication categories. The awards were announced on Dec. 6, 2022.

Walton and Cana Uluak Itchuaqiyaq are authors of the article “Reviewer as Activist: Understanding Academic Review Through Conocimiento.” Aimed at helping to make the manuscript review process more equitable, the title references novelist Gloria Anzaldua’s seven stages of “Conocimiento” — described as using multiple senses to process disruption or, as the translation suggests, transform information into knowledge. CCCC’s awards committee called their winning article “incredible,” saying “it offers a new, justice-oriented way of thinking about the review process” and acts as a guide scholars can use to navigate scholarly manuscript reviews.

Itchuaqiyaq, an alumna of Utah State University's Technical Communication and Rhetoric Ph.D. program, is now an assistant professor at Virginia Tech.

“She was the managing editor of ‘Technical Communication Quarterly’ for two years during her doctoral studies while I was editor in chief. We wrote this article together about academic reviewing during our work together,” Walton said.

Equipping Technical Communicators for Social Justice Work: Theories, Methodologies, and Pedagogies,” a collection of essays edited by Godwin Y. Agboka and Walton, also earned an award.

A member of CCCC’s selection committee said, “Walton and Godwin’s edited collection fills a gap in technical communication work focused on social justice, offering compelling examples of how to ethically engage in social justice work as well as frameworks for how to begin new projects in this direction.”

Chapter authors include Itchuaqiyaq and USU Emeritus Professor Keith Grant-Davie.

Walton's award-winning research focuses on how individuals intervene for justice in the workplace. She is the editor of “Technical Communication Quarterly” and teaches graduate and undergraduate students in USU’s TCR program, in addition to serving as an associate dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“It is such an honor to receive these awards alongside the article’s first author, Dr. Itchuaqiyaq, and book’s co-editor, Dr. Agboka. Both pieces of scholarship demonstrate the practical value and relevance of social justice to technical communication work — whether that work is reviewing research articles or teaching risk communication, designing community-based research studies, or supporting underrepresented colleagues in the workplace, Walton said. “Technical communication has experienced a shift in which justice-oriented scholarship is regularly recognized as being among the best in the field, a shift that I hope will lead not just to additional scholarship but also to a more inclusive field both in industry and academia.”

The CCCC has awards in six categories of technical and scientific communication scholarship: best book, best collection of essays, best empirical research article, best theory article, best pedagogical article, and best historical research or textual studies article. Walton’s scholarship has won four of these six awards including winning the best theory article twice (2023 and 2018). The organization recognizes winners at its annual convention. This year’s event will take place in Chicago, Feb. 15-18, 2023.


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