Technical and Professional Communication Theory and Pedagogy  

syllabus :: schedule :: assignments


Course Meeting Times and Place

This course will meet in the Design Center (Milton 014) on Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00-5:15.

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Sheppard
Office: English 207
Phone: 575-646-2341
Email: (best way to reach me)

Office Hours

Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 in English 207
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

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, put theory into practice through a hands-on documentation project, investigate varying pedagogical approaches, and create or supplement curricular materials for current or future teaching in technical and professional communication.


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 203, 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 discuss readings, develop a collaborative online documentation project, share collected materials and research, and provide 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.

Further, one of the main course projects requires you to work with two-three classmates. I have done this because it not only reflects working conditions you are likely to encounter in professional environments but also because it is an important way of learning. Each of you has different strengths, talents, and experiences that you bring to class. By working with others, you can pool these resources and create documents that are more effective and sophisticated than you might otherwise be able to do on your own. Although collaborative work can bring with it additional challenges, I believe that learning to negotiate these with others is a valuable part of your experience. 



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 four absences, your grade will be negatively affected and may result in failure of the course. You are responsible for checking the course website, seeking help from classmates, and/or contacting me during office hours to find out what you missed.


ADA Statement

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cover issues relating to disability and accommodations. If a student has questions or needs an accommodation in the classroom (all medical information is treated confidentially), contact:

Trudy Luken
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) - Corbett Center, Rm. 244
Phone: 646.6840 E-mail:

NMSU policy prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, retaliation, serious medical condition, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation and protected veterans status. Furthermore, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination to include sexual misconduct, sexual violence, sexual harassment and retaliation.

For more information on discrimination issues, Title IX or NMSU's complaint process contact:

Gerard Nevarez or Agustin Diaz
Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) - O'Loughlin House
Phone: 646.3635 E-mail:

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism is using another person's work without acknowledgment, making it appear to be one's own. Intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism are considered instances of academic misconduct and are subject to disciplinary action such as failure on the assignment, failure of the course or dismissal from the university. The NMSU Library has more information and help on how to avoid plagiarism at