Description : Policies : Schedule : Assignments


instructorInstructor, Dr. Jennifer Sheppard, Guatemala, Summer 2007

My dogs, Jasper and Sadie, in the Snow, Michigan, Winter 2003

organ mountains
Organ Mountains at Sunset, Las Cruces, NM, Spring 2005

orchard blossoms
Almond Blossoms, Chico, CA, Spring 1998

snowshoe trail
Snowshow Trail in Michigan's Upper Peninusula, 2002

Sweetpeas for the Farmers' Market, Chico, CA 1997

Beach at Sunset, Southern CA, Summer 2006

yucca snow
Snow in Las Cruces, Winter 2007

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Sheppard
Office: English 226
Phone: 646-2341 (I mostly work from home in the summer, so I don't check this voicemail often)
Email: (best way to reach me)
Course web site:
WebCT address:

Required Materials
(available from the NMSU bookstore or through and other online sellers)

  • Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach, 6th edition, (Paperback)
    by Paul V. Anderson
    Publisher: Heinle
    ISBN 10: 1413017703

  • Non-Designer's Design Book, 3rd Edition, (Paperback)
    by Robin Williams
    Publisher: Peachpit Press
    ISBN: 10: 0321534042

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 based on a sequence of assignments, each building on the work of the previous one, which will provide you with an opportunity to investigate your own professional communication practices, to conduct primary and secondary source research on an issue of professional interest, and to construct persuasive documents that seek action by convincing others of the value of your ideas and experience. In each of these assignments, you will focus on understanding and negotiating the rhetorical situation which includes the following three core components:

  1. purpose- the reason for which you are writing
  2. audience- the people or groups to whom the communication is directed
  3. 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 also 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
By the end of this course, students will be able to :

  • Understand the rhetorical nature of professional writing and that each communication situation requires negotiating the unique context in which it is located

  • 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

  • Understand how to integrate written content, graphics, and basic design principles in order to create usable, persuasive, and reader-friendly documents


About the Instructor

Since we likely won't have the opportunity to meet face-to-face during this course, I want to briefly introduce myself (you are of course welcome to set up an appointment to meet with me in person if you are in Las Cruces). My name is Jennifer Sheppard and I have been at NMSU since Fall 2003. I completed my PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Technological University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (yes, it was cold and snowed a lot, especially for someone originally from California). My research focuses on web-based multimedia development, technical writing, and workplace communication.

I have been teaching writing, professional communication, web design, multimedia development, and visual and oral communication for the past 13 years (you can see my other course syllabi and my multimedia work at

Through this course, I think you will find that I enjoy teaching, and that I like to challenge students to expand their range of capabilities. If you have questions about technologies or assignments at any time, please don't hesitate to contact me.