Advanced Technical and Professional Communication syllabus

Contact Information and Office Hours

Instructor: Jennifer Sheppard
Office & Phone: English 119, 646-2317
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 12:30-1:30, 2:30-3:30, & by appointment (people who get A's in class make frequent use of these hours)

Course Description

This advanced course is designed to help you examine and gain experience with the specialized writing in your field of study. By focusing on the rhetorical demands of writing about technical, scientific, and professional communication, you will learn practical and theoretical approaches for researching and developing content for multiple audiences. By analyzing the purpose, audience, and context of various communicative situations, you will be able to create print and electronic documents that successfully achieve their intended objective.

Since students in this course come from various majors, the assignments are structured as opportunities for investigating the communicative practices of a campus- or community-based non-profit organization. Working collaboratively with other class members, a major portion of your grade will be based on a multipart project in which you develop hands-on, practical communication. By addressing the rhetorical needs of your chosen client, these assignments will help you learn both currently accepted standards for various genres, as well as strategies for analyzing and adapting to new situations.

Finally, this course is intended to help you make the transition from student to professional by developing the communicative practices necessary for your field. In addition to research into disciplinary expectations and experience with various rhetorical aspects of technical writing, we will also explore how professional writers conceive of their experiences and work.

Course Goals

  • Understand the rhetorical nature of technical writing
  • Understand the communicative conventions of your field and how they function, particularly with regard to technical and/or scientific writing
  • Improve your processes for project planning and development
  • Understand how to address the rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, context) to shape the development of technical documents
  • Develop strategies for learning technical and scientific information and conducting specialized research
  • Demonstrate that you understand how to design, write, test, and revise textual and visual communication
  • Demonstrate how to integrate written content, graphics, and basic design principles in order to create usable, reader-friendly documents
  • Succeed in working effectively and efficiently within collaborative groups

Required Materials (available in the campus bookstore)

Service-Learning in Technical and Professional Communication. by Melody Bowdon and J. Blake Scott. Allyn & Bacon Publishers, 2003.

Writing a Professional Life: Stories of Technical Communicators On and Off the Job. by Gerald J. Savage and Dale L. Sullivan. Allyn & Bacon Publishers, 2001.

CD RW(s) for backing up, sharing, and turning in work.