Instructional documents are a valuable way of passing information to a desired audience. The effectiveness of these documents can be increased or hampered by the choices made in their creation.
Recently, I undertook the task of making an instructional document about plagiarism and the internet with my intended audience being Saudi students. The major aim of the document was to persuade the students to avoid this counterproductive habit in their school work. In this paper, I will analyze the choices in style and content that I made while creating my instructional document on plagiarism.
This analysis will include an in depth look at the effectiveness of the format choice, color choice and the tone used in conveying the message. I will also address the less successful choices that I made in the presentation. This detailed analysis of the instructional document will enable me to review the successful choices that were made and gauge their effectiveness. Things that could have been done to improve the document will also be addressed.
The instructional document was about plagiarism and the aim of the text was to persuade Saudi Students to desist from engaging in this practice. As a tool of persuasion, the document appealed to the desire by students to succeed. It did this by stressing on the seriousness of plagiarism and highlighting the negative outcomes of plagiarism such as; expulsion from school and a bad reputation for the student for the rest of their education and careers.
In Saudi Arabia, success is greatly valued and a student who succeeds is seen as having brought pride and glory to his family. The student who fails on the other hand brings shame to his family. The document goes on to remind the student that ignorance of plagiarism is not an excuse for engaging in this activity. As such, the student who plagiarizes by mistake will still face the harsh consequences.
Throughout the paper, orange and red have been used as the background color. This is significant since in Saudi Arabia, the colors orange and red are used to represent danger. By using these colors in the instructional document, the audience is reminded of the gravity of the matter and the danger that can arise from engaging in plagiarism. Naturally, Saudi students are socialized to avoid unnecessary dangers at all time.
The use of orange and red all through the document reminds the students that the subject matter is grave and therefore due attention should be given.
It can therefore be expected that the students took the instructional document seriously. The theme colors used is consistent all through the presentation. This is a successful choice since it gives the paper a uniform feel. The audience is therefore not distracted as would be the case if each slide had a different color theme. Without these distractions, it can be assumed that the audience is able to pay closer attention to the message that is being communicated through the presentation.
A major factor in effective communication is presenting information in a manner that is relevant to the audience. The information presented in the instructional document is concise and easily understood. For example, the paper makes use of short sentences whose meaning is easily understood by the students.
This is a significant strength since the audience can at a glance get the message that is being communicated. The use of bullets in some of the pages enhances the readability of the document therefore making it an efficient communication tool. My text formatting in the document therefore enhanced the ability of the document to achieve its role of persuading students against plagiarism.
The document made very good use of images to enhance the message being communicated. To begin with, the first page made use of a Mosque which is a very significant symbol in Saudi Arabia. The use of this religious image was very helpful in persuading the students not to engage in plagiarism since Islam is the foundation of the Saudi community. The document appeals to the religious basis since Islam does not approve of practices such as plagiarizing.
Another image used is in the fourth slide, which has a background with the letter “F”. For many educational institutes, “F” is the grade that represents a fail. This image is used on the same page where the consequences of plagiarism are being discussed. By using this background, the audience is reminded of the fact a common consequences of plagiarism is failing in the course. The students are therefore persuaded to avoid plagiarizing or face the risk of attaining the “F” grade in their courses.
The tone used to pass information is very important since it influences the readiness of the audience to receive the information. The attitude of the audience towards the message can also be impacted by the tone used. In my instructional document, I used a solemn but respectful tone. Respect is of great importance in the Saudi Arabian culture and one is expected to be respectful to others at all time.
By using a respectful tone and decent language, the students in Saudi Arabia are more likely to abide by the information given in the document. The tone used by the paper is also confident which means that the information given can be taken to be true. Even so, a stern tone is adopted which helps to stress the sobriety of the information being given. The students being communicated to will therefore know that the subject matter (plagiarism) is to be treated with great seriousness.
The choice in text font is also used to increase communication effectiveness. The document does not make use of any fancy font so as to denote the seriousness of the message being communicated. The font face used for the text throughout the presentation is Times New Roman which is a fairly formal font. The Audience is therefore made to realize that the matter being discussed is of a serious nature. If a cursive text font had been used, the serious nature of the subject may not have been communicated effectively as it was in this case.
All the slides contain some words in Arabic which are warning students to refrain from plagiarism. This use of Arabic is effective in reaching out to the Saudi students, most of whom are familiar with the language. It also adds emphasis to the English text in persuading the students not to engage in plagiarism.
While the document properly serves its purpose in advising against plagiarism, there were not very successful. The first choice is that the document did not make use of the image of the mosque as efficiently as it should have.
Having an image of the mosque in every slide would have made the message more effective since it would have reinforced the fact that Islam prohibits plagiarism. Islam is an integral factor in Saudi society and the religion holds great influence in many faucets of the Saudis lives. This fact should have been better used to increase the changes of the paper persuading the students even more.
Another less successful choice in the presentation is in the use of transition effects. The document lacks any animation or transition effects. While this has the advantage of ensuring that the students are not unnecessarily distracted from the message being communicated, the presentation may be unappealing for the students.
Lack of transitions also means that the student can read the contents of an entire slide at a glance. This is a disadvantage when the presentation is being made by a speaker in person. Use of transitions and animations would have made the instructional document even more engaging for the students hence increase its effectiveness.
In this paper, I set out to analyze the choices in style and content that I made while creating my instructional document on plagiarism. It has been noted that images such as the Mosque and the letter “F” have been used to convey messages to the students. The color orange has also been exploited to enhance the sobriety of the subject matter.
From the analysis done herein, I can conclude that I reached the Case Goal in my instructional document. Even so, this analysis has enabled me to discover that there are things that I could have done to make the paper even more effective in its persuasion efforts.