Technical and Professional Communication Theory and Pedagogy  

syllabus :: schedule :: assignments :: additional readings


Course Meeting Times and Place

This course will meet in Clara Belle Williams Hall 125 on Tuesdays 5:00-7:30.

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Sheppard
Office: English 226
Phone: 646-2341
Email: (best way to reach me)

Office Hours

Mondays 2:00-4:00 Milton Hall Design Center
Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 in English 226 in
and by appointment

Required Materials

Dubinsky, James M. (ed.) Teaching Technical Communication: Critical Issues for the Classroom. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. ISBN 0-312-41204-5

Selfe, Cynthia L. (ed.) Resources in Technical Communication: Outcomes and Approaches. Amityville, NY: Baywood, 2007.

You also will be responsible for selected reading from other sources. I will provide copies of these documents as PDF files.

Course Description

This course will introduce key issues in the field of professional and technical communication, with a particular focus on teaching. Our texts, discussions, and assignments will allow us to see the way theory and pedagogy mutually inform one another. We well examine disciplinary trends in both research and classroom practice.

Course assignments will engage scholarship in the discipline, investigate varying pedagogical approaches, and create or supplement curricular materials for current or future teaching in technical and professional communication. As part of daily class activities, you will contribute rhetorical précis and share professional resources. For the major course project, you will review syllabi, texts, and assignments commonly used in undergraduate technical and professional communication courses and develop a detailed, theoretically-backed syllabus for English 218 or 318.


Course Objectives
By the semester's end, you should:

  • be familiar with the key theoretical issues in professional and technical communication
  • understand how disciplinary theory and research can be used to shape classroom practice
  • be familiar with common assignments, genres, and texts used to teach undergraduate professional and technical communication
  • develop a detailed syllabus and assignment sequence for an undergraduate professional and technical communication course at NMSU (English 218 or 318)


The following indicates the percent value for course assignments:


Participation and Collaboration

As this is a graduate level course covering a wide disciplinary subject area, it is critical that you are an active and respectful participant in all activities. I expect that you will read all assigned material prior to class and that you will engage in thoughtful, critical dialog with your classmates. In order to explore the breadth of theoretical and pedagogical issues concerning professional and technical communication, we will need to rely on the work and resources each of us brings to this experience. Throughout the semester, we will take turns facilitating discussions, sharing collected materials and research, and providing feedback on syllabi in development. Your sustained engagement in this process will create a rich learning environment for yourself and your classmates and will help to construct a network of intellectual support for your teaching and/or professional development.



I expect graduate students to attend all class meetings (except in the case of an emergency, sickness, or absence related to a conference presentation). If you have more than 2 absences, your grade will be negatively affected and may result in failure of the course. You are responsible for checking the course website and/or contacting me during office hours to find out what you missed.


Plagiarism and Ethics

You have to do your own work and appropriately identify work that is collaborative, borrowed, or copied from other sources, including your own work from other classes. When you use graphics, works, words, citations, or even ideas from other sources, you are under the legal and ethical obligation to identify these sources according to citation norms. If you have any questions, please contact me. Using work that is not yours and not appropriately identifying it will usually result in an F for an assignment if not the course.


If you have a disability that affects you as a student in this class you are invited to notify me and/or call the Disabled Student Programs Office at 646-6840. Your notification will remain confidential.