Andrew J. Roback

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. - Technical Communication

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, 2017

  • Dissertation: "Uncovering Motives for Social Networking Site Use at Nonprofit Organizations" [read]
  • Research interests include social action in technical communication, social media, text analysis, machine learning, human-computer interaction, activity theory, media bias, and information visualization.

M.A. - English and American Literature

DePaul University, Chicago, 2008

  • Graduated with distinction
  • Conducted research of technical detail in fiction

B.A. - Liberal Arts and Sciences

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2004

Conferences and Publications

Conference Talks

  • Roback, A. (2015). "Should I say that?": Venting, Repercussions, and Self-Censorship on Social Media. Computers and Writing. May 28-31, University of Wisconsin -- Stout, Menomonie, WI, USA [slides]
  • Roback, A. (2014). Make it with friends, break it yourself: Open-source software and DH research. Illinois Institute of Technology Digital Humanities Speaker Series. January 23, Chicago, IL, USA [slides]
  • Roback, A. & Hemphill, L. (2013). How Constituents Lobby Members of Congress on Twitter. American Political Science Association Annual Meeting and Convention, August 29-September 1, Chicago, IL, USA [slides] | [paper]
  • Roback, A. (2012). Users, Data, and Theory: A Framework and Future Direction for Studying Productive Applications of Social Media / Social Networking Sites (Poster). GROUP ’12, October 27-31, Sanibel Island, FL, USA. [poster]
  • Roback, A. (2012). Creating a model of user behavior on social networking sites (Poster). Infosocial, October 12-13, Evanston, IL, USA. - also at - Social Networks and Innovation: A Conference on New Frontiers in Methods & Applications, November 1, 2013, Chicago, IL USA. [poster]
  • Roback, A. (2010). The Impact of Emerging Literacies on Instant Messaging and Supplemental Writing Instruction. Computers and Writing Conference, May 20-23, West Lafayette, IN, USA. [slides]
  • Roback, A. (2010). Open Source Tutoring: An examination of the Role of Service-Learning in the Writing Center. Chicagoland Writing Center Association Conference, February 6, Chicago, IL, USA. [slides]
  • Friddle, L., Legleitner, R., Maloof, A., & Roback, A. (2009). Community, Collaboration, Cogitation: The Three "C's" of Tutor Training. Chicagoland Writing Center Association Conference, February 7, Chicago, IL, USA.


  • (Forthcoming) Ortegón, N. & Roback, A. (2022). Back to the past: Regressive depictions of education and learning in contemporary science fiction. [working title]
  • Hemphill, L. & Roback, A. (2014). Tweet Acts: How Constituents Lobby Congress via Twitter. 2014 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work and Social Computing, Feb 15-19, Baltimore, MD. [paper]
  • Roback, A. (2013). Uncovering Motives for Social Networking Site Use Among Practitioners at Non-Profit Organizations. 2013 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, Feb 23-27, San Antonio, TX. [abstract] | [poster]
  • Roback, A. & Hemphill, L. (2013). "I'd have to vote against you": Issue Campaigning via Twitter (Poster). 2013 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, Feb 23-27, San Antonio, TX. [abstract] | [poster]
  • Roback, A. (2012). A Framework and Future Direction for Studying Productive Applications of Social Media / Social Networking Sites. Proceedings of GROUP ’12, October 27-31, Sanibel Island, FL, USA. [abstract]
  • Dietz, L., Maloof, A., & Roback, A. (2009). The Decline of Writing? DePaul Magazine, Spring/Summer.
  • Roback, A. & Maloof, A. (2009). Hot Topics in Writing [season one]. A podcast available on the DePaul Writing Center podcast page. All episodes written, recorded, edited, and produced by myself, Alexis Maloof, and Julie Glasier.



COM 421: Technical Communication

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, "J-Term" 2020 (Winter break condensed course), Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

  • Students learn traditional business and technical communication genres; however, students also learn how to write for the web and structure/present content for maximum impact.
  • 2017-18 Final Project: develop a program to address Chicago's troubled yard waste disposal system. [project details]
  • View the current syllabus

WRD 204: Technical Writing

DePaul University, Chicago: Winter Quarter 2021, Autumn Quarter 2021, Winter Quarter 2022, Spring Quarter 2022, Autumn Quarter 2022, Spring Quarter 2023

  • Asynch course where students learn the basics of technical communcation and engage in discussions on ethics, communications failures, risk assessment, and packaging technical content.
  • Practice exercises focus on stylistic conventions, document design, instructions, as well as other concepts.
  • Major projects include creating a set of documentation on a topic of their choice and conducting a small-scale usability study on a product or website.
  • View a recent syllabus

WRD 202: Business Writing

DePaul University, Chicago: Spring Quarter 2022, Winter Quarter 2023, Spring Quarter 2023

  • Standard business writing course focusing on genre-based conventions, but also includes extensive discussion and practice on rhetorical appeals, multimodal writing, and document design.
  • Writing projects based on real-life scenarios and experiences I've had working with individuals in writing-intensive positions at public and private organizations.
  • Final project asks students to write a blog post for people in their industry about how a technological development will impact business in the future, then translate that blog post into an audio recording meant for the general public.
  • View the current syllabus

COM 425: Technical Editing

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2022, Fall 2023

  • The course covered the basics of copyediting, including an overview of the structure of the English language, punctuation, usage, register, and systems of grammar and citation. Other topics included levels of copyediting and how to give and receive feedback on writing.
  • Assignments and exams test students ability to detect and edit a variety of errors.

COM 528/424: Document Design

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2024

  • Students learned the fundamental principles of design. We also critiqued many design efforts, both internal and external.
  • Major projects included design projects (pinback button, resume, cover letter, rack card, tri-fold brochure, event flyer, and instructions website), a student-led critique of a piece of design, and a group final project redesigning the website for a Chicago non-profit organization (including a website redesign, a web form, white paper, brochure, and financial report graphics).
  • Spring 2020 Final project: Redesigning the Chicago Recycling Coalition Website. [view project]
  • View the course syllabus for more information.
  • (Note: Beginning with F22, I'm changing the course to focus on physical media and PDF projects and dropping the web design component, as I'm planning to teach a separate web design course in the future. This will also free up more time for discussion and reflection on theory.)

COM 101: University Writing

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2019

  • First-year writing seminar dedicated to the principles of effective writing in university courses.
  • Included discussion of citation styles and tools (e.g. Zotero), writing approaches across disciplines, principles of rhetoric and persuasion, and how to effectively manage time/leverage technology to accomplish research and writing tasks.
  • Students wrote a resume/cover letter, persuasive essay, critical text analysis, research paper, and humanities response paper.
  • Students also wrote and submitted a writing journal with prompts and style exercises.
  • View the course syllabus for more information.

COM 581/381: Information Structure and Retrieval

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2019

  • Small seminar focused on the difficulty of structuring information to meet the needs of users. Students conducted independent research projects with publicly-available data and met with me one-on-one to create platforms for searching, visualizing, and retrieving that information using markup languages like HTML and XML as well as retrieval languages like SQL.
  • Coursework consisted of students acting as discussants and several lab sessions (with protocols) designed to help students practice downloading, cleaning, reformatting, and applying search and retrieval tools to real-life, publicly-available information.
  • View the course syllabus for more information.

COM 601/380: Research Methods and Resources

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2017

  • Students learned to formulate a research question, collect and analyze data (in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods scenarios), and present findings in a digital format.
  • Students maintained a research notebook on their project, made field observations, and worked in the computer lab on data collection, cleaning, and analysis associated with digital humanities research. Data sources included Shakespeare's complete works stored in XML format, Twitter, and the City of Chicago Data Portal.
  • View the course syllabus for more information.

TA: COM 580: Organizational Communication

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago: Spring 2013

  • Course Instructor: Libby Hemphill
  • Graded student memos (short response papers) and maintained course management system

TA: COM 380/580: Social Networks

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago: Fall 2012

  • Course Instructor: Libby Hemphill
  • Graded and curated participation on the course blog
  • Taught class and led class discussion on a few occasions


LIT 380: Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2016, Spring 2021

  • Students examined novels, biographies, films, television, and historical accounts of the Vietnam War.
  • Redeveloped course in S21 to discuss connection between protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and turbulent events of the late 1960s, including inclusion of additional Black authors into the reading list and a discussion of the Black Arts Movement, maginalization of Black authors in this genre, and a discussion of contemporary reflections on that marginalization after the release of Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods (which we watched for class).
  • In the final paper, students used their knowledge of the Vietnam War and associated works to analyze a film dealing with the Vietnam War outside of those screened for the course.
  • More information available on the current syllabus

LIT 339: Shakespeare in Film

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Summer 2018, Summer 2020

  • Students performed close readings of Shakespeare's plays and examined contextual material to gain insight into Shakespeare's writing. The course also included sections on the vocabulary and theory of film and stage criticism, with an emphasis on applying those concepts to both traditional and interpretive films and performances.
  • Course included a trip to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater or Shakespeare in the Parks (for summer courses).
  • Institutionalized into IIT Course Catalogue
  • More information available on the current syllabus

LIT 307: The Graphic Novel

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017

  • A review of comics theory and sequential art as discussed in the works of Scott McCloud and Will Eisner. Students read graphic novels from Speigelman, Satrapi, Bechdel, Baker, Sacco, and Ware, along with critical work from Chute, Baetens, Frey, Growenstein, Kunka, and others.
  • 2017 final project: research an outside graphic novel and create a critical website with annotated images. [project details]
  • Institutionalized into IIT Course Catalogue
  • Read about the Fall 2013 display of student work in Siegel Hall and view some of the exceptional entries. [article]
  • More information available on the current syllabus

LIT 306: Science Fiction

Illinois Institute of Technology: Summer 2012, Summer 2017

  • A course focusing on science fiction novels and film adaptations. Special emphasis on film analysis/critique and comparison to source material.
  • Reading list includes works by Wells, Clarke, Gibson, Crichton, Magary, Bacigalupi, Vonnegut, and others.
  • More information available on the current syllabus

LIT 309: Short Fiction

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2010, Spring 2012

  • This course featured selections of less frequently anthologized short fiction pieces, as well as a few classics from Poe, Hemmingway, and Faulkner.
  • The goal of the course was to introduce students to this genre, collectively formulate the fundamental tenets, explore the evolution of this genre over the past two centuries, and question why short fiction is still a relevant and an integral part of media we consume today.
  • For their final projects, I encouraged students to go beyond writing a term paper and several students developed collages, photography portfolios, and websites/multimedia content.

LIT 380: Hard Times

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2011

  • A look at historical class conflicts as portrayed in literature. Concluded the semester with a look at the global financial crisis and economic recession.
  • Students worked in teams to research contextual information on the time periods we read about and wrote individual research papers.

LIT 315: The Novel

Illinois Institute of Technology: Spring 2011

  • A course focused on the historical progression of the novel as a genre, from the proto-novels of the 18th century through postmodern and contemporary titles.
  • I provided audio feedback on response papers (in the form of .mp3 files) and we performed in-class research activities, including a collaborative Wikipedia editing exercise.


HUM 200: Science Fiction and Pop Culture

Illinois Institute of Technology: Summer 2015, Summer 2016, Summer 2019, Fall 2020, Summer 2023

  • Selections from classic and current science fiction writers and filmmakers, focusing on how their ideas shaped our culture.
  • Students reviewed a film, wrote a research paper, and we used social network visualization software to try to solve a sf murder mystery.

HUM 106: Life Stories

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2013

  • A course covering the different genres of life stories (autobiography, biography, memoir, creative non-fiction).
  • In addition to introducing literary research to freshman students, this course covered historical context and philosophical concepts that allowed students to engage texts critically through written work, supplemented by instructor and peer feedback at all stages of the writing process.

Guest Lectures

"Writing and designing your professional website"

Illinois Institute of Technology, COM 421: Technical Communication, Chicago: Fall 2012

"Using NodeXL to Emphasize Your SNA Research Findings"

Illinois Institute of Technology, COM 380/580: Social Networks, Chicago: Spring 2012

"The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: A Few Exercises in Critical Analysis"

Loyola University, ELPS 219: History of American Education, Chicago: Summer 2009

  • Course Instructor: Nicole Ortegón

Service and other academic work


  • Faculty Advisor: Illinois Tech Film Club | 2023-2024
  • Graphic designer: St. Paul Lutheran School | Chicago, IL: 2018-20
  • Judge (Short Fiction): IIT Annual Writing Contest | Chicago, IL: 2011-16, 2018-19
  • Paper reviewer: Digital Culture and Society | 2019
  • Paper reviewer: SAGE Open | 2018
  • Invited talk: Researching Communication on the Internet - Oak Park and River Forest High School Summer Program | Oak Park, IL: June 2017
  • Judge: Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium | Chicago, IL: April 2016
  • Paper reviewer: International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-16) | February 2016
  • Paper reviewer: CHI 2016 | October 2015
  • Invited talk: Social Media and Venting - lllinois Tech Global Leaders Program, Issues forum on social media | Chicago, IL: July 2015
  • Paper reviewer: Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing Conference (CSCW 2016) | June 2015
  • Invited talk: Social Media Planning Workshop - National Park Service / Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore | Gary, IN: June 2015
  • Invited talk: Developing a Content Management Strategy for Your Small Business - Enhancing Technology for Small Business Program - Illinois Institute of Technology | Chicago, IL: 2014
  • Judge: Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium | Chicago, IL: April 2014
  • Student volunteer: Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing Conference (CSCW) | San Antonio, TX: February 2013
  • Postsecondary outreach with Chicago Public School Students | Chicago, IL: 2006-2009
    • April 2009: Volunteer at Emmit Project luncheon, a community outreach program that promotes college opportunities for CPS students (Loyola University)
    • Spring 2008: Worked with CPS students in Gear Up on college applications (DePaul University)
    • 2007-2008: Volunteer with BUILD at Kelvin Park High School, helping students with college application essays
    • Winter 2006: Worked with students at Orr High School on the Hero's Journey Project, a personal essay telling students' personal journeys of acheivement and loss (DePaul University)

Paid Academic Work

  • Business Writing Workshop, IIT Office of Professional Development | Wheaton, IL: March 2020
  • Technical Writing Workshops for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), IIT Office of Professional Development | Cicero, IL: October 2019
  • Writing Successful Chemistry Lab Reports, an online learning module for the IIT Chemistry Department | Chicago, IL: August 2017
  • Placement essay grader: IIT Writing Proficiency Placement Essays | Chicago, IL: 2012–2018
  • Coordinator: IIT Writing Contest | Chicago, IL: April 2014


Writing Center Tutor

Illinois Institute of Technology: Fall 2009

  • Assisted students primarily with projects relating to scientific reports and papers, art and architectural history, and professional development documents such as resumes, CVs, and applications for graduate study.

Writing Consultant

DePaul University Center for Writing-based Learning: 2006-2008

  • Worked with hundreds of students, including English as a Target Language (ETL) students in collaboration with the English Language Academy.
  • Worked with students in outreach programs from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Gear Up
  • Researched and advocated for the use of instant messaging and distance collaboration techniques with adult and remote learners.

Freelance Writing Consultant


  • Worked with graduate students on completing degree requirement writings such as master's degree theses, dissertation proposals, and dissertations.
  • Experience working with academic professionals to improve their professional and business writing skills.

Professional Experience

Business Manager

DePaul University Center for Writing-based Learning: August 2007- May 2009

  • Tabulated statistics about student engagement, evaluated employee performance, implemented pedagogical procedures, composed training materials, and worked with the director to ensure that the Writing Center operated efficiently and within budget by managing payroll hours for approximately 60 employees.
  • Managed the UCWbL's web presence, including social media and a podcast.

Claims Adjuster, Independent Claims Adjuster

National Claims Services: September 2005-August 2006

  • Settled moving damage claims with the United States Armed Services ranging in value and size from under a hundred dollars to over $30,000.
  • Wrote several appeals that appeared before the federal board regulating Military-Industrial claims settlements in cases where a dispute prevented settlement.
  • Recognized by the president of NCS for my efforts to use Excel to simplify complex liability calculations.
  • After leaving to attend graduate school, remained as an outside consultant for two years.

Remote Storage Barcode Technician

University of Illinois Main Library, August 2002-May 2004

  • Flagged and barcoded monographs for relocation to Oak Street Remote Storage Facility.
  • Consistently among the highest efficiency rate in department.
  • Also worked on shift in the stacks and monograph sorting.

Data collection manager

Chicago Area Transportation Study (now Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning), May 2000-August 2002

  • Managed a team of four data collection interns assessing hundreds of Illinois roadway quality segments in the six-county Chicagoland area.
  • Presented data to IDOT. Earned recognition from director of CATS for report quality.
  • Coordinated a month-long study of dangerous intersections in Will County.
  • Authored an employee training manual and developed a content management system for survey maps.

Technical Proficiencies

I am not a Mac, PC, or Linux person: I can and do use whatever gets the job done. If that means open source software, so much the better. Below is a list of technologies I am comfortable using. It is not comprehensive or final, and I am always ready and willing to learn.

  • Markup, Programming, and Version Control

  • Productivity Software

    • MS Office (all apps) and Open/Libre Office
    • Google (all Drive apps)
    • LaTeX
  • Creativity Software

    • Scribus
    • GIMP
    • Adobe Creative Suite: InDesign and Photoshop
    • Audacity
    • OpenShot
    • iMovie
    • Podcasting via iTunes
  • Social Network Visualization

    • Gephi
    • NodeXL
  • Analysis

    • Microsoft Excel (including analysis toolpack)
    • Weka 3 (machine learning and data mining)
    • TACIT (text analysis)
    • SPSS
    • Dataplot
  • Open Source Content Management

    • LimeSurvey
    • Drupal
    • WikkaWiki
    • Wordpress and BuddyPress
    • phpBB
    • Moodle
  • Project Management

    • Basecamp
    • Clocking IT
    • Redmine
    • Toggl