English 235 Technical Writing Tentative Syllabus Spring, 2011
Item 1054 Section A 5 Credits
Instructor: Rebecca Morris
Office hours: 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and by appointment
Phone: (425) 564-3064
Class meets Tuesdays and Thursday, 5:30 pm-7:40 pm in R306
Required text: Technical Communication, 9th edition, by Mike Markel, Bedford/St. Martin’s (you may buy an older edition, but be aware that there are some differences in them).
Want to work on Wall Street, or climb the corporate ladder in Seattle at Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Big Fish, Nintendo, Google or Boeing? Or in virtually any other business? 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 your business, 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 technical writing is, look at how corporations communicate good news (Amazon) and how they deal with bad news (BP – formerly British Petroleum – and Toyota, Boeing, and many others).
Technical Writing 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 BC (or the equivalent) and have strong college-level reading and writing skills. Most students take the course during one of their last terms at BC.
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 memos, instructions, proposals, reports, and websites), 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 writing and speaking.
Assignments: You will be responsible for an individual project and the written components of it (a proposal; a progress report; a data report; a recommendation; and a PowerPoint 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. The topic must be approved by me. This type of project is called: A Comparative Feasibility Research Study.
Your project must focus on a problem to solve, which involves researching, compiling data, comparing and contrasting, analysis, arriving at a conclusion and making a recommendation. 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 235. I will also share examples of projects from my previous classes.
There will also be graded and ungraded small group projects during which you will be able to take a leadership role, communicate with others in the group, agree on a project, distribute tasks, set deadlines and make a presentation.
You will also work for three weeks on a business idea as a member of a group, which culminates in a written proposal and a class presentation.
Grading: You will be graded on attendance, class participation, small group participation, the four written parts of your individual project, two tests, and the oral presentation and PowerPoint presentation of your project. There are two quizzes, but no midterm or final exam.
I am a great believer in re-writing and the benefits of learning to re-write. You’ll have an opportunity to work on the parts of your individual project, potentially raising your grade.
I expect your papers to be grammatically perfect, and to be free of spelling and punctuation errors. If this is a weakness for you, you can go to BC’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. After all, you wouldn’t turn in a writing project at work that wasn’t perfect. Attendance and participation: Attendance will be taken each class meeting. 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. Again, please read the college’s policy on absences.
Plagiarism: Both BC and I take plagiarism very seriously. Do not risk your college career or professional career by using anyone else’s work. We will discuss ways to avoid plagiarism. Please read the college’s policy on plagiarism.
Deadlines: It’s important to meet the deadline for papers.
Your grade is based on:
Proposal 10 %
Progress report 10 %
Data Report 10 %
Final Report 15 %
Your presentation 10%
Test #1 10%
Test #2 10 %
One-on-one with instructor 5 % (this means you were prepared and took advantage of opportunities in class to show me drafts of papers, and put time into rewriting)
The Really Big Group Project 10 %
Attendance and participation 10% (this includes participation in classroom peer review sessions)
Keys to Success and a good grade:
Attend class and be on time
Read the assigned articles and essays
Come to class prepared – with reading done, questions prepared, drafts written
Participate in class discussions
Bring copies of your drafts to class for peer review and so I can work with you one-on-one
Seek additional help at the Writing Lab, through tutoring, or by meeting with me
Meet your deadlines
Please, turn off cell phones and iPods before class begins. If you use a laptop to take notes, I’ll trust you to be professional and use it only for that purpose during class. I encourage you to bring a laptop when you work in groups.
Please read What Is An A Paper, also posted on the MyBC site.
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
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 BC website
Call (425) 401-6680
Check the website schoolreport.org, or sign up on the BC website to receive e-mails or text messages from the college.
English 235 Tentative Class Schedule
This is the tentative order in which we will read, discuss and apply chapters to group and individual projects. PLEASE CHECK THE CLASS SITE ON MYBC DAILY FOR ASSIGNMENTS AND UPDATES.
Chapter 1 – Introduction to Technical Communication
Chapter 16 – Writing Proposals
Chapter 5 – Analyzing Audience and Purpose
Chapter 20 – Writing Definitions, Descriptions and Instructions
Chapter 4 – Writing Collaboratively
Chapter 14 – Writing Letters, Memos and E-mails
Chapter 8 – Communicating Persuasively
Chapter 2 – Understanding Ethical and Legal Considerations
Chapter 17 – Writing Informational Reports
Chapter 11 – Designing Documents and Web Sites
Chapter 12 – Creating Graphics
Chapter 18 – Writing Lab Reports
Chapter 19 – Writing Recommendation Reports
Chapter 15 – Preparing Job-Application Materials
Chapter 21 – Making Oral Presentations
Please read the Humanities Division Student Procedures and Expectations about Attendance on the class’ MyBC site.
The follow was written by Sydney Dietrich, former chair of BC’s English Department. She also teaches Eng 235:
The ethical considerations of cheating in technical writing are much greater than in other kinds of writing. Since you will use technical writing in the workplace, it is mandatory that you communicate all technical information accurately, completely, and honestly. Most professional organizations, including the Society for Technical Communication, have clearly defined codes of ethical behavior (see Chap. 2 and the IEEE Code of Ethics on p. 34, Technical Communication).
The BC Student Code is also very clear about the seriousness of cheating and the actions that faculty members are required to take in cases of plagiarizing:
The BC Student Code prohibits cheating, stealing, plagiarizing,
knowingly furnishing false information to the college, or submitting
to a faculty member any work product that the student fraudulently
represents as his or her own work for the purpose of fulfilling or
partially fulfilling any assignment or task required as part of a program
of instruction. All forms of cheating, stealing, and plagiarizing will be
reported to the Dean of Instruction.
Please read the entire section on “Academic Honesty” in Student Procedures and
Expectations on the Arts & Humanities Division website.
English 235 Part B Syllabus Spring, 2011
Tuesday, April 5- First day of class. Course overview.
Thursday, April 7 - Please bring one or two examples of technical writing to class. Please have read Chapters 1 and 16. Meet with me one-on-one to discuss a topic for your individual project (I must approve the topic)
Tuesday, April 12 - Continued discussion. If you haven’t, please meet with me one-on-one about your project idea.
Thursday, April 14 - Please have read Chapter 5. Please bring draft of your proposal (3 copies).
Tuesday, April 19 - Proposal due – bring three copies to class for peer review. You will also meet one-on-one with me.
Thursday, April 21 - Please have read Chapters 20, 4 and 14. Begin group project on writing instructions
Tuesday, April 26 - Work in class on group project on writing instructions
Thursday, April 28 - work on group project on instructions
Tuesday, May 3 - Presentation of group project on instructions; begin to review for quiz
(on chapters 1, 16, 5, 20, 4 and 14).
Thursday, May 5 - Review for test; bring draft of progress report (in the form of a memo)
Tuesday, May 10- Test #1 - Test #1 (on chapters 1, 16, 5, 20, 4 and 14).
Thursday, May 12 - Progress report (memo) due; peer review, meet with instructor
Tuesday, May 17 - Please have read chapters 17, 11 and 12, 8 and 2
Thursday, May 19 - Group Project – work in class
Tuesday, May 24 - Group Project – work in class
Thursday, May 26 - Group Project – work in class
Tuesday, May 31 - Group Project presentations; begin review for test (on chapters 8, 2, 17, 11, 12, 18 and 19)
Thursday, June 2 - Data Report due . Bring three copies. Please have read chapters 18 and 19; further review for test
Tuesday, June 7 – No Classes
Thursday, June 9 - Test #2 – on chapters 8, 2, 17, 11, 12, 18 and 19
Tuesday, June 14 Presentation of individual projects
Thursday, June 16 – Last class. Presentation of individual projects. Copy of complete individual project must be turned in.