Course Syllabus for English 318-2 Fall 2005

Dr. Jennifer Sheppard
Office:   English 226
Phone:   646-2341
Office Hours: T 1-2, W 2:30-3:30, and by appointment

Required Materials

  • Bowdon, Melody and Blake Scott. Service Learning in Technical and Professional Communication. New York: Longman, 2003.
  • Williams, Robin. The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice. (2nd edition).  Berkeley: Peachpit Press, 2003.
  • Blank CD-RWs or Jump Drive for saving and sharing digital work

Course Description
This advanced course is designed to help you examine and gain experience with a variety of professional communication genres. The core of the course is multipart project you will complete for an outside client in which each segment of the sequence builds on the work of the previous one.  Since students in this course come from various majors, the coursework is structured as a series of opportunities for investigating the communicative practices particular to your own area of study.  As you work through these assignments, you should learn currently accepted standards for various genres, strategies for analyzing and adapting your work to new situations, and rhetorical tools for creating usable, persuasive communication.

In each of the assignments you will focus on understanding and negotiating the rhetorical situation which includes the following three core components:

  • purpose-  the reason for which you are writing
  • audience- the people or groups to whom the communication is directed
  • context- the situational conditions in which the text will be read and used

By focusing on the rhetorical demands of 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 documents that successfully achieve their intended goals.

Importantly, this course will focus on the design and arrangement of documents, as well as on the development of their textual content. As several of your readings will argue and demonstrate, using basic principles of design will help readers to:

  • locate needed information quickly and easily
  • notice and understand important ideas
  • comprehend how discrete parts of a document are related
  • respond more positively to a document's content

Throughout the course, I'd like you to concentrate on how you can best shape your documents to most persuasively and effectively communicate your intended message to your intended audience

Course Goals

  • Understand the rhetorical nature of professional writing and that each communication situation requires negotiating the unique context in which it is located
  • Understand the communicative conventions of your field and how they function, particularly with regard to specialized technical material
  • Improve your processes for project planning, research, and development
  • Understand how to investigate and address the rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, context) to shape the development of professional communication
  • Develop a range of strategies for learning technical and scientific information and conducting specialized research
  • Demonstrate that you understand how to integrate written content, visuals, and other media using basic design principles in order to create usable, persuasive, and reader-friendly documents
  • Succeed in working effectively and efficiently within collaborative groups