This memorandum is aimed at evaluating the booklet released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA (2000). It should be noted that in this case, this organization acts as a partner of educators, and this document can be used in school. In particular, it is necessary to determine whether this document is suitable for the needs of potential readers. Much attention should be paid to usability, design, the use of visual aids and other points that are important for the assessment of a technical document.
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Moreover, one should provide recommendations that can improve the readability of this text. This analysis can help the organizations like the Environment Protection Agency to design better documents, especially when they will need to address students or design documents that should be used for educational purposes.
Apart from that, one should keep in mind that the booklet is intended for students who need to know how the protection of environment can be linked to science projects. Yet, this booklet can also benefit educators, who may use it as a handout during classes. These are some of the issues that should be taken into consideration while assessing this document.
The characteristics of a technical document
Addresses particular readers
Scholars argue that a person, who writes a technical document, should anticipate the needs and expectations of particular readers who represent diverse social or cultural groups (Markel, 2012, p. 7). Additionally, one should not overlook the age of readers since one should have a clear idea about the level of cognitive skills of the audience. Overall, this knowledge is important for effective communication.
The authors of this booklet state that the document is designed for the needs of students who may be in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grades (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000, p. 1). It is possible to say that the writers are able to consider the needs of readers. For example, they provide a glossary terms that the students may not know.
In this way, they help the learners avoid potential difficulties, especially when they encounter such notions as biodegradable or corrosive (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000, p. 14). Secondly, the text includes bullet points and visual aids that facilitate the process of reading. Additionally, the table of contents and headings enable the students to find relevant information as quickly as possible.
This aspect is particularly important for children and adolescents who do not always want to spend a significant amount of time on reading tasks. On the whole, this approach is critical for engaging the readers. Moreover, the audience can identify how and why they should use a particular document. Thus, the strategies chosen by the authors are quite successful. This is one of the points that can be made.
Helps readers solve problems
Overall, this document can assist readers with various tasks or activities. In particular, the students will know how they should carry out science projects. The audience can learn more about the research methods which can be involved in such tasks. The authors discuss specific activities involved in such projects. For example, one can speak about information gathering, formation of a hypothesis, and many other tasks that learners need to do in order to act as researchers.
Thus, this document serves specific practical purposes. Nevertheless, there is a certain limitation that one should not disregard. In particular, the authors do not provide any examples of how a student can gather the data or analyze information. The absence of this information can make a student less interested in this booklet.
Moreover, he/she can suppose that the instructions are rather vague. Thus, the efforts of the authors may eventually be fruitless. Certainly, one cannot say that this booklet cannot be applied for practical purposes; nevertheless, in some cases, one should provide more examples illustrating the specific steps that students need to take in order to complete a science project. This is one of the details that can be singled out.
Reflects the organizational goals and culture
On the whole, the key goal of EPA is to protect environment and human health. Furthermore, this organization lays stress on the need to raise people’s awareness about various environmental risks that can eventually affect both individuals and groups. In turn, the culture of EPA is based on the premise that every member of the community can make a significant contribution to the preservation of nature. This is why this organization emphasizes various community values such as responsibility.
To some degree, this booklet reflects these issues. For example, the science project described by the authors is related to various environmental issues, such as the use of recycled materials or waste management (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000). Moreover, the writers imply that every individual is able to reduce environmental pollution by taking some small steps.
For instance, the science project that the students will need to complete can lead them to the conclusion that responsible behavior can shield nature against various risks. Hence, this document reflects the values and goals or EPA.
Moreover, one can argue that this organization can effectively achieve its objectives. Certainly, EPA is also supposed to develop effective regulations that can protect the environment. Yet, this specific goal cannot be reflected in this document. So, to some degree, this document complies with the standards that are set for technical documents.
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Is produced collaboratively
To a great extent, this document is the result of cooperation between different professionals who can major in different fields. First of all, one can speak about the partnership of environmental scientists and educators who attempted to make this booklet both interesting and engaging. These people represent different areas of knowledge. This is one of the elements that should be taken into account. It is important to remember that the authors of this document used the information provided by other organizations.
For instance, one can mention North American Association for Environmental Education (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2004, p. 15). This agency attempts to integrate environmental issues in the curriculum. Overall, this cooperation between different institutions is necessary for meeting the needs of students who have very diverse needs.
This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. Furthermore, judging from the layout of the document, one can say that graphic designers and artists took part in this project. The visual aids and drawings that they created are also important for conveying the message of the authors. Thus, one can argue that the design of this booklet was made possible due to the partnership of different professionals who have various skills and competencies.
Uses design to increase readability
The design of this document is critical for increasing its readability. As it has been said before, this booklet incorporates various elements that help the readers navigate through the text. In particular, much attention should be paid to such a components as the table of contents since this element of design enables students to find a certain section of the text as quickly as possible. This design choice is quite successful. Additionally, headings are highlighted with the help of font and color.
Overall, this approach can assist students in finding relevant information. Apart from that, in some cases, technical documents are supposed to produce a positive impression on the readers (Markel, 2012, p. 8). In this case, the goal is achieved with the help of bright colors.
This component is also important because students are more likely to consider the recommendations and instructions of teachers, if textual documents leave readers with a positive impression. Additionally, different colors can attract readers’ attention to a specific question. On the whole, the design of this document is quite effective because it improves the experiences of readers.
Consists of worlds or images, or both
The design of this document is based on the principle that verbal and visual information should supplement one another since this form of presentation assist readers. This issue is of great importance to adolescent students. In particular, this booklet includes several drawings that illustrate the science projects described by the authors. Moreover, they are useful for explaining concepts that students may not be familiar with. For instance, the use of drawings is helpful for describing the principle of waste management.
This approach is often adopted by educators, especially when they need to describe complex ideas. Admittedly, one can say that in some cases, the use of images is unnecessary. For example, when describing the stages of a science project, the authors mention the need to perform calculations.
Moreover, they include the drawings of a calculator (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2000, p. 4). It seems that this image is superfluous because it does improve the readers’ understanding of the text. This is one of the limitations that should not be overlooked.
It is possible to provide several recommendations to the authors of this document. First of all, they might have included more detailed instructions while describing specific activities that are included in a research project. For example, they should have paid more attention to such activities as the formulation of a hypothesis, gathering of data, and calculations. In this way, one can better illustrate the link between such topics and environment and natural science.
Additionally, the readers can see that the conventional methods of science can be applied to environmental studies. Additionally, the authors should have paid more attention to the use of visual aids. In particular, they should offer examples of tables and charts that summarize the findings of a science project.
This information can be of great use to students who are not experienced in science projects. Moreover, it is necessary to remove some of the drawings that seem superfluous. These are some of the suggestions that can be offered. Despite possible limitations of this documents, it is well suited for the needs of student and educators who may study various aspects of environment protection. This is the main argument that can be put forward.
Markel, M. (2012). Technical Communication. New York, NY: Bedford.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2000). Science Fair Fun. New York, NY: EPA.