English 270 Professional Report Writing Tentative Syllabus Winter, 2008
Item 1248 Section D
Instructor: Rebecca Morris
Office hours: 3-5:00 pm Tuesday and Thursday, and by appointment
Phone: (425) 564-3064
Class meets Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 pm-7:40 pm in R201
Required texts: Technical Communication, 8th edition, by Mike Markel
Want to work on Wall Street, or climb the corporate ladder at Microsoft? Eighty percent of Fortune 400 companies say the greatest weakness in their employees is their reading and writing skills. And trust me – you will need to write on the job. Whether you are writing iPod instructions for consumers, creating a web site for Amazon, or doing a project for your boss, you are engaging in technical communication. You will need to conduct research, analyze data, work alone and with colleagues, and represent your company on paper – reflecting its culture ( yes, companies have cultures). You’ll need to write for an ‘audience,’ and often it will be a multicultural one, one you may not belong to. If you want to get a sense of how important company writing is, read the business pages of the newspaper and follow Microsoft, Amazon.com, Starbucks or Boeing’s ups and downs. Then there are the court trials of Enron and Worldcom, and Wal-Mart’s public relations problems.
Professional Report Writing (also referred to as technical writing or technical communication) is writing that takes place on the job. The course is intended for students who are within 30 credits of graduating. As a higher 200-level course, it is more difficult and more demanding than English 201. Students should have completed at least three quarters of work at BCC (or equivalent) and have strong college-level reading and writing skills.
The aim of the class is to show you how to communicate technical information clearly, completely and persuasively. Technical writing involves a no-nonsense approach to writing (a skill itself), uses a format to convey information (including memoranda, instructions, proposals, and reports), and may use graphics to help convey information visually.
By the end of the course you should be able to: Understand the purpose and process of communication in business; communicate technical information in a complete, accurate, and honest form; write various types of documents, such as a memo, proposal and progress report; balance written and visual elements in technical documents; work as a member of a team; and use clear, focused, and grammatically correct language when both writing and speaking.
Assignments: You will be responsible for a research project and the written components of it ( a proposal; a progress report; a data report; and the final report and presentation). It’s important that you find a topic you find relevant and interesting. The topic may relate directly or indirectly to your current job or future career or education plans.
Your research project must focus on a problem to solve, which involves researching, acquiring data, comparing and contrasting, analysis and making recommendations. You can see examples of papers from other terms by going to the library’s web page, clicking on Electronic Reserve, and then clicking on English 270. I will also share examples of projects from my previous classes.
Grading: You will be graded on attendance, class participation, small group participation, your four written papers (the fourth is your final project), two midterms, and the oral presentation and PowerPoint presentation of your project. There is also one team project which is graded, and occasional projects that are ungraded.
I expect your papers to be perfect grammatically, and to be free of spelling and punctuation errors. If this is a weakness for you, you will need to go to BCC’s Writing Lab or find tutoring. You will be graded down for errors. You can have a terrific topic, and do a great job with the project, but if there are weaknesses in your writing, your grade will suffer.
Attendance and participation: Attendance will be taken daily. Absences will lower your grade. Do not assume anything – it is the student’s responsibility to communicate with the instructor about missed classes, late papers, or about other issues. If you have a medical or family emergency, please contact me and we will work something out. BCC policy is that ten absences are grounds for an “F” grade.
Plagiarism: Both BCC and I take plagiarism very seriously. Do not risk your college career or professional career by using anyone else’s work.
Deadlines: It’s important to meet the deadline for papers.
Good things to know:
The Open Lab (N250) – has over 200 PCs and Macintosh computers available to all registered students. It is usually open seven days a week.
The Writing Lab (D204) is part of the
Please, turn off cell phones and iPods before class begins.
Because the college occasionally closes because of snow, or rain and wind storms, be sure and check to see that classes are being held.
There are several ways to check the status of the college:
Look at the BCC website
Call (425) 401-6680
Check the website schoolreport.org
Sign up on the BCC website to receive e-mails or text messages from the college.