Approved by Faculty Senate.

 

 

University Studies Course Approval

 

 

Department or Program

English

Course Number

439

Semester Hours

3

Frequency of Offering

every year

Course Title

Technical Writing

Catalog Description

The theory and practice of technical writing. Offered yearly. Prerequisites: ENG 111 (and ENG 201 for English majors and minors).

This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2:

Yes

This is a new course proposal:

No

(If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4)

not applicable

Proposal Category:

Writing Flag

Departmental Contact:

J Paul Johnson, Associate Professor

Email Address:

pjohnson@winona.edu

 

 

English 439

Technical Writing— 3 s.h.

A University Studies Writing Flag Course

Proposal and Rationale

Catalog Description

The theory and practice of technical writing. Offered yearly. Prerequisites: ENG 111 (and ENG 201 for English majors and minors).

General Course Information

English 439 is a Writing Flag course in the WSU University Studies Program. The program is designed to provide a broad base of skills and knowledge to equip students for informed, responsible citizenship in a changing world. The purpose of the Writing Flag requirement is to reinforce the outcomes specified for the basic skills area of writing. These courses are intended to provide contexts, opportunities, and feedback for students writing with discipline-specific texts, tools, and strategies. These courses should emphasize writing as essential to academic learning and intellectual development.

As a Writing Flag course, English 439, Technical Writing, offers section enrollment that allows for clear guidance, criteria, and feedback for the writing assignments; a significant amount of writing distributed throughout the semester; writing assignments that comprise a significant portion of the students’ final course grade; and opportunities for students to incorporate readers’ critiques of their writing.

Writing Flag courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to...

    1. practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields;
    2. understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields;
    3. adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields;
    4. make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields; and
    5. learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.

 

Rationale

  1. Students will practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields.
  2. On a daily basis, students can be expected to make use the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful technical documents. Introductory assignments provide opportunities for students to assess technical documents and situations, in the process honing their abilities to understand the dynamics of technical writing. A series of increasingly complex writing projects requires students to work with contemporary office software packages, formulate action plans, collaborate with colleagues, and produce successful technical documents. Supporting classroom activities will engage students, on a daily basis, in a variety of activities, both written and oral, to support the development of technical writing abilities: for example, review sessions will engage students in the careful critique of colleagues’ work, and online exercises will provide opportunities for students to experiment with visual rhetoric and document design.

  3. Students will understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields.
  4. Technical writing communicates and interprets specialized information for readers' needs. It includes literature reviews, project proposals, progress reports, newsletters, product descriptions, instructional materials, funding requests, analytical reports, and business correspondence. Reader oriented and efficient, technical documents must be precise, concise, and unambiguous. Although some technical documents are composed individually, others are produced by project teams working in document cycles to meet strict deadlines. Some are written for the printed page, others for the computer screen. And some are designed as aids for oral presentations, others as self-sufficient documents. Furthermore, most technical documents are subject to complex cultural, legal, and ethical considerations that have significant personal and organizational consequences. Finally, they must incorporate elements of visual rhetoric and document design that enhance readability and usability. Students will study—and be expected to demonstrate their accomplishment with—these main features and uses of writing in the field of technical communications.

  5. Students will adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields.
  6. Technical writing necessitates the delivery of technical information to readers in a manner that is adapted to their needs, level of understanding, and background. Technical writers thus strive to accommodate the needs of their readers when structuring their work, when adapting their tone, and when evaluating their content. Critical reading assignments will include the study of different technical writers’ approaches to adapting structure, tone, and content to an audience. In the process of writing in different genres and for different audiences, students will practice these strategies for adapting their writing to varying situations. In fact, the ability to adapt work to an audience is one of the cornerstones of this course: students are challenged to write about highly technical subjects but in a way that a beginner—a nonspecialist—could understand. This ability to "translate" technical information to nonspecialists is a key skill for any technical communicator. In addition to the notion of "translation," students will learn, and practice writing in, common technical genres, such as those mentioned in (b) above.

  7. Students will make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields.
  8. Technical writing demands highly developed knowledge, and much of the work of this course will demand rigorous library and field research. The ability to find, locate, evaluate, and use information relevant to the subject matter is crucial to technical writing projects. Students will use WebPALS (including the online catalog, ERIC, EAI, etc.) and other current databases (such as Lexis–Nexis, FirstSearch, J-Stor, Project MUSE, and Encyclopedia Britannica) for their research writing. To a lesser extent, students will practice strategies for field research—interviews, direct observations, surveys, document review—and incorporate their material into writing for variety of audiences.

    Technical writing is, also, an inherently technological field. Technical writers typically use computers to discuss, collaborate, research, design, present, revise, and publish, and so English 439 provides an introduction to the technologies commonly used for writing in the field. Students can expect to work with contemporary software applications for workplace writing. They will further use these technologies to improve the accuracy, clarity, coherence, and appropriateness of their writing, as well as to prepare a professional portfolio of their technical writing work.

  9. Students will learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.

Certain features are germane to nearly every technical writing situation: concrete language, varied sentencing, cohesive paragraphs, correct English, and appropriate vocabulary. Through a series of assignments, in-class exercises, and handbook review, students will be taught and encouraged to use these features of formal technical writing style. Projects will be held to an exacting standard of correctness. Through in-class and other exercises and activities, students will practice proofreading and editing strategies for finding and correcting errors. Finally, some of the work for the course will demand accurate, purposeful use of MLA documentation format, though given the variety of rhetorical situations students encounter in the course, other systems and strategies for documenting source material will necessarily be used as well.

English 439

Technical Writing— 3 s.h.

A University Studies Writing Flag Course

Course Syllabus

Catalog Description

The theory and practice of technical writing. Offered yearly. Prerequisites: ENG 111 (and ENG 201 for English majors and minors).

University Studies Writing Flag Information

English 439 is a Writing Flag course in the WSU University Studies Program. The program is designed to provide a broad base of skills and knowledge to equip students for informed, responsible citizenship in a changing world. The purpose of the Writing Flag requirement is to reinforce the outcomes specified for the basic skills area of writing. These courses are intended to provide contexts, opportunities, and feedback for students writing with discipline-specific texts, tools, and strategies. These courses should emphasize writing as essential to academic learning and intellectual development.

As a Writing Flag course, English 439, Technical Writing offers section enrollment that allows for clear guidance, criteria, and feedback for the writing assignments; a significant amount of writing distributed throughout the semester; writing assignments that comprise a significant portion of the students’ final course grade; and opportunities for students to incorporate readers’ critiques of their writing.

Writing Flag courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to...

    1. practice the processes and procedures for creating and completing successful writing in their fields;
    2. understand the main features and uses of writing in their fields;
    3. adapt their writing to the general expectations of readers in their fields;
    4. make use of the technologies commonly used for research and writing in their fields; and
    5. learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in their fields.

Although nearly every equipment and learning activity promotes each of these five outcomes, sessions with special emphasis on one or more of the five outcomes are identified by letter in the tentative course meeting schedule.

General Course Information

English 439/539, Technical Writing, is a course in the theory and practice of writing technical documents. Here, students will use computers to discuss, collaborate, research, design, present, revise, and publish. This will be a workshop class, in which the aim is to fulfill high expectations by spending class time on task-through collaborative learning, prompt feedback, and close student-faculty contact.

Technical writing communicates and interprets specialized information for readers' needs. It includes literature reviews, project proposals, progress reports, newsletters, product descriptions, instructional materials, funding requests, analytical reports, and business correspondence. Reader oriented and efficient, technical documents must be precise, concise, and unambiguous. Furthermore, they must incorporate elements of visual rhetoric and document design that enhance readability and usability.

Although some technical documents are composed individually, others are produced by project teams working in document cycles to meet strict deadlines. Some are written for the printed page, others for the computer screen. And some are designed as aids for oral presentations, others as self-sufficient documents. Finally, most technical documents are subject to complex cultural, legal, and ethical considerations that have significant personal and organizational consequences.

In English 439, students can expect to produce carefully-designed technical documents; to collaborate on project and review teams; to work with contemporary software applications for workplace writing; to improve the accuracy, clarity, coherence, and appropriateness of their writing; and to prepare a professional portfolio of technical writing documents.

English Department Goals

bulletEnglish 439 offers practice in reading expository prose and other and types of writing that have frequently not been used in the curriculum of the major, including the writing of their fellow students. (Goal 4) bulletEnglish 439 further offers practice writing in several modes and for different audiences and purposes, with an awareness of the social and critical implications these shifts raise. (Goal 5)

Course Texts & Supplies

bulletLannon, Technical Writing, 7e bulletaccess to the Web, PALS, email, and a printer; a vendacard; presentation supplies bulletin class: a reliable notebook and colored pens; work-in-progress printed, saved, and backed up

Prerequisites

bulletcompletion of basic skills writing requirement; (for English majors) English 201

Projects

bulleta product description or set of specifications bulleta set of procedures or process instructions (team project) bulletworkplace correspondence: letter and memo bulleta short report or proposal bulletan analytical report (team project) bulleta formal oral presentation with visual aids bulleta portfolio of your technical documents

Assessment

Final course grades will be awarded using the criteria below—knowledge of which should allow you to set your own goals for the course and take responsibility for completing them. In advance of the last day to drop the course, I’ll estimate your course grade, based on your accomplishments to that date.

bulletA course grade of A can be earned if all course requirements and assignments are completed in timely fashion and good faith AND the portfolio meets or exceeds all criteria listed below. bulletA course grade of B can be earned if all course requirements are completed in good faith AND the portfolio meets all criteria listed below. bulletA course grade of C can be earned if all course requirements are completed in good faith AND the portfolio meets most criteria listed below. bulletA course grade of D or E will be assessed if substantial course requirements are incomplete; if any work is submitted under false pretenses; OR if the portfolio does not meet the criteria listed below.

Portfolios

On the last day of class, you will submit a portfolio that includes the following:

  1. A detailed self-assessment report that both introduces the portfolio contents and reflects upon their strengths and weaknesses
  2. A current résumé listing your writing experiences, skills, and achievements
  3. An informal piece that demonstrates a particular skill, competency, or accomplishment
  4. At least two successful technical documents you composed individually
  5. At least one successful technical document you helped compose collaboratively

Except for the self-assessment, all documents included in the portfolio must be the result of the semester's coursework, written in response to previous course assignments. These may be revised, of course, and you may wish to include more documents than those listed above.

A technical document itself, the portfolio should be prepared with careful attention to readers' needs. The portfolio should demonstrate…

bulletan ability to solve complex ethical, cultural, and/or informational dilemmas through critical thinking and collaboration bulletan ability to assess and respond to readers' demands for usability bulletan ability to produce different types of documents for multiple audiences, situations, and media, using contemporary workplace software applications bulletan ability to gather, record, summarize, document, and use research findings bulletan ability to write with fluency, clarity, accuracy, brevity, and correctness bulletan ability to communicate effectively both electronically and in print bulletan ability to use appropriate design elements, including graphics, page & screen design, and document supplements

 

The Writing Center

The English Department’s Writing Center, located in Minné 340, offers WSU students free, individualized instruction in all aspects of writing. Call x5505, email "wcenter", or check the schedule and sign-up sheet posted on the Writing Center door.

Tentative Course Meeting Schedule

  1. introductions to the course and to technical writing (b)
  2. read Lannon chs. 1 & 2, introduction to technical writing: cases & scenarios in problem solving (b)
  3. read Lannon chs. 3 & 4, solving problems of information and persuasion (b,c)
  4. read Lannon chs. 17 & 18, descriptions, specifications, procedures, and processes (b,c)
  5. project #1, product descriptions due for review; electronic review: revisions, corrections, and comments (a,d)
  6. read Lannon appendix A, sentence review; revised product descriptions due (a,e)
  7. field trip: technical writers collaborating in the workplace; electronic conferencing (a,d)
  8. read Lannon ch. 19, procedures and processes; begin team projects (a)
  9. read Lannon chs. 5 & 6, ethical considerations and electronic communications (a,d)
  10. read Lannon ch. 7, problem solving (a,c)
  11. project #2, procedure/process descriptions due for review (a,c,d)
  12. read Lannon appendix B, usage & punctuation review; project team presentations (d,e)
  13. project team presentations (d)
  14. read Lannon ch. 20, letters and employment correspondence (b)
  15. individual conferences: midterm portfolio with self-assessment memo due one day prior
  16. individual conferences: midterm portfolio with self-assessment memo due one day prior
  17. read Lannon ch. 21 & 22, memos, short reports, and proposals (b,c)
  18. read Lannon chs. 8 & 9, gathering, recording, and reviewing information (d)
  19. read Lannon chs. 10 & 11, documenting and summarizing information; project #4, short reports due (a,d) for review
  20. project #4, short reports due; field trip: technical writers collaborating in the workplace (b)
  21. read Lannon ch. 23, analytical reports; project teams and document cycles (a,d)
  22. assessing readability and usability; time for working on team projects (c)
  23. visual rhetoric and document design; time for working on team projects (a,c)
  24. read Lannon chs. 14 & 15, designing visuals & pages; analytical reports reviewed by teams (a,c)
  25. project #5, analytical reports due (team project); read Lannon ch. 13, revising for style (e)
  26. read Lannon ch. 24, oral presentations; final oral presentations begin (a,d)
  27. individual conferences; final oral presentations continue (a,d)
  28. individual conferences; final oral presentations continue (a,d)
  29. individual conferences; final oral presentations conclude (a,d)
  30. preparing the final portfolio (a,b,c,d,e)

 

Approval/Disapproval Recommendations

 

Department Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

Chairperson’s Signature _______________________________ Date: _______

Dean’s Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____* Date: _______

Dean’s Signature _______________________________ Date: _______

* In the case of a Dean’s Recommendation to disapprove a written rationale for the recommendation to disapprove shall be provided to the U.S.S.

USS Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

US Director’s Signature _______________________________ Date: _______

A2C2 Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

A2C2 Chairperson’s Signature ___________________________ Date: _______

Faculty Senate Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

FA President’s Signature ________________________________ Date: _______

Academic VP’s Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

Vice President’s Signature ______________________________ Date: _______

President’s Recommendation: Approved ____ Disapproved ____ Date: _______

President’s Signature _______________________________ Date: _______