Writing Technical Instructions

In this lesson, students walk through the process of creating technical instructions by first analyzing existing instructions. They then select an item and an audience for which they will write technical instructions. After writing their own instructions, students conduct usability tests of each other’s instructions, providing user feedback. Finally, students use this user feedback to revise their instructions before publishing them. This website provides handouts and assignments for students to be able to analyze technical instructions and to learn what makes them effective or ineffective for an audience. Then they will analyze and describe the audience for a set of instructions, noting what that audience needs from that document.u2028 Overall, the lesson plan gives the student an understanding of the difference between technical writing and other genres of writing.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3001.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of informational and technical texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • analyze technical instructions to learn what makes them effective or ineffective for an audience.
  • analyze and describe the audience for a set of instructions, noting what that audience needs from that document.
  • understand the difference between technical writing and other genres of writing.
  • use document and audience analysis, drafting, peer response/user feedback, and revision to create effective technical instructions.
  • reflect on their writing process, noting how this assignment will be useful to them in future writing.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 
  • Spend additional time exploring document design by exploring alternative publishing options such as pamphlets, brochures, and different-sized documents. 
  • Rather than writing instructions for operating a common household item, ask students to write instructions for completing a basic task, such as making a sandwich or addressing an envelope. 
  • For a humorous break, share this Wendy’s training video and ask students to discuss what was effective and ineffective about those instructions. Be sure to discuss when the video was produced and how the video fit (or didn’t) the needs of the audience at the time it was produced.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Sample technical instructions (Manuals, user guides, etc.)
  • Household items for writing instructions 
  • Access to computer with Internet connection, Microsoft Word or Publisher, and printer 
  • Large white paper (Chart-sized sticky notes work well for hanging items on wall) 
  • Digital camera (optional)

References

Contributors: