Decision-making in a quasi-rational world: Teaching technical, narratological, and rhetorical discourse in report writing

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Abstract

This tutorial on how to teach report writing is based on the premise that decision-making is a complex process that derives from both rational and quasi-rational ways of knowing the world. The author defines quasi-rational to include consideration of hunches, intuition, and tacit knowledge often embodied in stories that have meaning to the decision-maker. Thus, report writing can be approached as a systematic evaluation of options available given goals and constraints, but also as an uncovering of the narratives that decision-makers see surrounding their own lives. The tutorial explains a course curriculum structured in three sections with the following goals and strategies: (1) helping students face personal or family decisions through a traditional decision-matrix process that also incorporates elements of rhetorical stasis theory, (2) using big case studies to reveal the interplay between rational and quasi-rational thought in decision-making, and (3) finding case studies in the students' local geographic regions in order to further explore this interplay. The paper concludes with a brief assessment of how the author's students responded to such a course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Keywords

  • Decision-science
  • Economics
  • Narrative
  • Public policy
  • Quasi-rationality
  • Recommendation reports
  • Report writing
  • Stasis theory

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