ENGL 2311 - Technical Writing

ENGL 2311 - Technical Writing

Spring 2017 - Texas A&M University - San Antonio - Instructor Sarah Dwyer

I. Course Identification:

Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences

Course Title:Technical Writing

Course Numbers: 2311-002: 20878
2311-003: 20879

Credit Hours: 3

Location and Meeting Times: 2311-002: TR 8-9:15 am, Madla 236
2311-003: TR 3:30-4:45 pm, Madla 206

Instructor: Sarah Dwyer

Contact Information:

Office Location: CAB 325
Office Hours:MW 12 – 12:30 pm, TR 9-12, 12:30-1:30, and by appointment
Office Phone:210-784-2254

Prerequisite: ENGL 1301

II.Course Description:

Intensive study and practice of technical and professional genres such as proposals, reports, instructions, policies and procedures, e-mail messages, letters, and descriptions of products and services. Students will also practice individual and collaborative processes involved in the creation of ethical and efficient documents.

III. First-Year Composition Program Outcomes:

The First-Year Composition (FYC) program at Texas A&M University-San Antonio prepares all first-year students
for success in writing. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of threshold concepts in rhetoric and composition
  • use composing and reading for learning and critical thinking
  • compose verbal, visual, and multimedia texts for various situations, audiences, and genres
  • locate and evaluate primary and secondary source material and integrate information into writing projects
  • demonstrate knowledge of writing conventions (e.g., style, grammar, and citation) and their variations across situations and genres
  • analyze and critique multiple forms of verbal, visual, and multimedia communication
  • revise texts in response to the needs of multiple audiences
  • reflect on, evaluate, and adapt individual and collaborative writing processes

IV.Course Objectives:

This course helps you to fulfill program outcomes by asking you to analyze and compose technical documents for a variety of workplace situations. By the end of the class, you will be able to demonstrate effectiveness and professionalism in both your reading and composing of technical documents. More specifically, you will be able to:

CO1 - demonstrate knowledge of threshold concepts such as ethics, design, and usability

-Assessment method: reading assignments, analysis and critique, drafting and revision of technical documents

CO2 - use composing and reading to learn and think critically about these concepts
- Assessment method: reading assignments, analysis and critique, drafting and revision of technical

CO3 - compose verbal, visual, and multimedia documents for a variety of workplace situations

- Assessment method: drafting, peer review, and revision of technical documents in a variety of forms

CO4 - locate and evaluate primary and secondary source material and integrate information into writing projects

- Assessment method: research, APA-style citations, drafting of researched projects

CO5 - demonstrate knowledge of technical writing conventions, including conventions of style, design, usability,
and citation

- Assessment method: drafting and revision of technical documents, APA citation exercises

CO6 - analyze and critique multiple forms of technical documents composed with verbal, visual, and multimedia

- Assessment method: discussion, group work, analysis and critique of technical documents, peer review

CO7 - revise technical documents in response to the needs of multiple audiences

- Assessment method: drafting of technical documents, in-class peer review and revision

CO8 - reflect on, evaluate, and adapt individual writing processes and strategies

- Assessment method: discussion, freewrites, e-portfolio, reflection essay

V.Textbooks and Supplies:

Textbook: Practical Strategies for Technical Communication, 2nd edition, by Mike Markel, ISBN 1319003362. It's available for rent on Amazon in both ebook and hard copy form for around 30 dollars. I do not recommend purchasing a copy of the textbook, unless it’s in ebook form--even the used copies can be expensive.

Technology: Reliable access to a computer with a stable internet connection and a reliable office suite program. Free office suite software can be downloaded fromLibreOffice.Google Drive is a free, cloud-based file storage system which includes an office suite program that allows for collaborative work.

Computers with appropriate software are available in the Library, located on the 2nd floor in the CAB.

Other: Notebooks/paper and writing implements for Reading Notes and class work

VI.Course Format, Grading Procedures, and Criteria:

Overview:The premise for this class is that you have researched, applied to, and accepted a job offer at an international company or nonprofit organization. Many assignments you complete will be connected to your chosen company, so please take this opportunity to learn more about your major and potential careers in that field.

Procedures:In order to receive course credit, you must complete the following assignments, which I will describe
in further detail on each project’s assignment sheet.The total possible points for each assignment are as follows:

AssignmentPoint ValuePercentage of Total Grade

Course Acknowledgement10 points 1.3%
Reading Notes 1-23115 points (5 each) 14.4%
Freewrites 1-1365 points (5 each)8.1%
STAR Activities30 points3.75%
201 – APA10
101 – Research10
301 – Plagiarism20
Company Report25 points3.1%
Application Materials40 points 4.4%
Cover Letter15
Thank You Letter15
Instruction Demonstration50 points 6.3%
Brief Recommendation25 points3.1%
Ethical Comm. Flyer50 points6.3%
Project Plan20 points2.5%
Title, Outline, References20 points2.5%
Final Proposal100 points12.5%
Final Presentation100 points12.5%
E-portfolio & Reflection80 points10%
Portfolio50 points
Reflection Essay30 points
Professionalism70 points8.75%
Extra Credit* points

Total 800 points possible*

* It is possible to earn more than the total points listed here by completing Extra Credit assignments. See the Extra Credit handout for more details.

Grade Ranges: A Range: 720 - 800 pointsC Range: 560 - 639 pointsF: Below 480 points
B Range: 640 - 719 pointsD Range: 480 - 559 points

Criteria: You will be evaluated on the quality of your work. Specifically, written assignments will be evaluated on content, the correct use of standard English, clarity and concision of expression, proper format, correct use of punctuation and grammar, and correct spelling. You are expected to keep track of your own grades in Blackboard.

I will provide both formal and informal feedback on the work you submit this semester. My responses will offer guidance and support and will invite you to enter a conversation with me about your progress in the class. My evaluations of your major projects will be keyed to expectations outlined on each project’s assignment sheet and rubric. If you have questions or concerns about my feedback, please contact me via email, meet with me during office hours, and/or request an appointment.

You will receive a grade for Professionalism, which addresses your ability to:

●Attend class consistently

●Arrive to class on time

●Successfully complete any in-class writing, exercises, or supplemental assignments

●Collaborate with classmates

●Interact with classmates and instructor maturely and professionally

VII. Make-Up Policy and Attendance:

Make-Up Policy: Except under special circumstances, I will accept no late work, and you will not be able to make up missed assignments. In case of extenuating circumstances, please contact me immediately so we can make alternate arrangements.

Extensions are always granted as long as they are requested prior to the assignment's due date. Computer glitches or technical malfunctions are not acceptable excuses.

If you have known special events (vacation, wedding, birth of a child, surgery, etc.), you can work ahead. In all cases, communication with me in advance is desired, whenever possible.

Attendance: “Your success and development as a writer depends upon your active participation within a community of writers. Consistent attendance in your FYC classes is, therefore, crucial. Barring exceptional circumstances, students who are absent more than two weeks may not earn a passing grade. If you are struggling to attend class, we urge you to communicate both with your Academic Success Coach and with your FYC instructor, who will work with you to negotiate a plan for attending and completing the class” (FYC Program Policy, 2016).
If you are unable to make it to class due to illness, family emergencies, or other issues, you are welcome to submit
assignments via Blackboard. If you have extenuating circumstances such as long-term health or family issues, you
are asked to contact me as soon as possible so that we can make alternate arrangements for the completion of

Late Arrival/Early Departure: If, for whatever reason, you arrive late, or need to leave early, you are welcome to do so. Please do so quietly, without disrupting the class, and if possible, let me know about it ahead of time, so that if we have to, we can make alternate arrangements for in-class work.

VIII.Accommodation Statement:

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disability. If you believe you have a disability that may require accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services (DSS) for the coordination of services. DSS is located at the Main Campus on the 2nd floor of the Central Academic Building in room 210. The phone number for DSS is (210) 784-1335 and email is ” (Office of Disability Support Services, 2016).

IX.Course Activity Disclaimer:

I reserve the right to alter to alter the type and sequence of activities scheduled for this course.

X.Classroom Etiquette:

All cell phones should be turned off or put on silent during class meetings. Except when prompted, you should not use cell phones, listen to headphones or earbuds, or otherwise cause a distraction for your classmates.

Discussion is an important component of class meetings. You are expected to contribute meaningfully to discussion, ask questions, and share ideas.

XI.Student Support Services:

Writing Center: “The Jaguar Writing Center provides writing assistance to graduate and undergraduate students in all three colleges. Writing tutors work with students to develop reading skills, prepare oral presentations, and plan, draft, and revise their written assignments. Students can make individual or group appointments with a writing tutor. The Writing Center has two locations: Central Academic Building, Suite 208, and Brooks City-Base, Room 104. Both locations can be reached by emailing or calling 210-784-1332. Appointments can also be made through JagWire using TutorTrac, which is found under the services tab” (Jaguar Writing Center, 2016).

Tutoring Center:Tutoring Services offers free, appointment-based tutoring to Texas A&M University-San Antonio
students. The Tutoring Center is located in CAB Suite 208. You can make an appointment through JagWire or by
phone at (210) 784-1332.
Counseling Center: “TheOffice of Student Counseling & Wellness Services (SC&WS) provides short-term
individual, couples, and group counseling services, consultation, and prevention services that facilitate students’
academic and life goals and enhance their personal growth and well-being. SC&WS’s staff of licensed mental
health professionals can work with you to identify effective strategies both to cope with difficult situations and to
achieve goals set with your counselor. To schedule an appointment please call (210-784-1331) or email
(). SC&WS is located in Suite 212 of Patriot’s Casa” (Counseling Center, 2016).

Disability Services: TheOffice of Disability Support Services (DSS) at Texas A&M University-San Antonio is committed to ensuring equal access, full participation and reasonable accommodations by coordinating services that meet the unique educational needs of enrolled students with documented disabilities. Disability Support Services is open from 8 am-5 pm M-F, and is located in CAB Suite 210. The phone number is (210) 784-1331.

XII. Diversity Policy:

“We are committed to fostering inclusive classroom environments where diverse backgrounds and perspectives are not only respected and understood, but are also recognized as powerful resources for building communities of writers both in the classroom and across campus. While working with classmates and instructors, we ask that you:

  • respectfully share your unique experiences and perspectives
  • demonstrate respect for and openness to the perspectives and experiences of others
  • value the opportunity to learn from difference

Demonstrating respect for those different from you not only prepares you for success in the classroom, but it also prepares you for success as citizens and professionals in a global community.

Although we value the respectful expression and exchange of ideas, students who use violent, harassing, and/or
discriminatory language, including sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, ableist, and/or anti-ethnic language, will be reported to the university and may be subject to Student Code of Conduct policies, as well as any classroom
conduct or civility policies your instructor has established.

Lastly, the FYC program is committed to affirming linguistic diversity in student communication. We approach style and grammar as context-specific and do not advocate the use of Edited American English except when appropriate for the writer’s genre and audience” (FYC Program Policy, 2016).

XIII. University Policies:

University Email Policy and Course Communications:
All correspondence between professors and students must occur via University email accounts. You must have your Jaguar email account ready and working. If it is not working, please contact the help desk at or at 210-784-4357. If you don’t hear back from professors within 48 hours, contact them again. They have a lot of requests during the first part of the semester, so you may need to follow up. I will distribute course materials, including announcements and updates, via Blackboard, so I encourage you to log-in to that system at least twice per week. I will respond to all email within 48 hours of receipt.

The Six-Drop Rule:

Students are subject to the requirements of Senate Bill (SB) 1231 passed by the Texas Legislature in 2007. SB 1231 limits students to a maximum of six (6) non-punitive course drops (i.e., courses a student chooses to drop) during their undergraduate careers. A non-punitive drop does not affect the student’s GPA. However, course drops that exceed the maximum allowed by SB 1231 will be treated as “F” grades and will impact the student’s GPA.

Academic Dishonesty Policy:

Students at Texas A&M University-San Antonio are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty for which a students is subject to penalty includes cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, multiple submissions, misrepresentation of academic records, facilitating academic dishonesty, unfair advantage, violating known safety requirements and ethical misconduct. This includes holding other students to the same standards and reporting any incidents of alleged violation of the honesty policy to the instructor involved or, if necessary, to the appropriate academic department head. All students are responsible for being familiar with the Academic Dishonesty Policy, which may be found in the Texas A&M University-San Antonio Student Handbook.
University policy prescribes serious consequences for acts of academic dishonesty including, but not limited to, a grade of ‘F’ on the particular paper or assignment, a failing grade in the course, or possible expulsion from the University. Considering the potential consequences of academic misconduct, it is obviously in students’ best interests to avoid even the appearance of such behavior. If you are ever unclear whether a specific act might constitute academic misconduct, please contact your instructor for an assessment of the situation.
All student term papers and other written assignments are subject to analysis by anti-plagiarism software.

XIV. Plagiarism Policy:

“We recognize that what constitutes plagiarism depends upon context. As such, we work with you to learn how different genres, professions, and academic disciplines define plagiarism. In the context of your FYC classes, plagiarism is defined as the intentional use of another’s “language, ideas, or original (not common-knowledge) material” without acknowledgement (“Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism”). If you are found to have committed plagiarism as defined here, your instructor will report you for academic dishonesty, and you may be subject to failing the assignment or even failing the class” (FYC Program Policy, 2016).

Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s words or ideas as your own, whether in writing or in speaking.

You are expected to give and to receive help in this course, but all written work must be your own. Plagiarism is a serious offense; it is illegal, it is unethical, and it is behavior that can disqualify you from receiving a degree from this college under some circumstances. If you plagiarize, in whole or in part, from library or field sources or from other students’ work, or if you fail to document properly, the minimum penalty is an F or zero credit for the assignment. If you have questions about plagiarism, ask before you act.

You are plagiarizing if you:

  • Present ideas, images, or testimony of others without citing the source of the material and/or implying in any way that such material is your own;
  • Paraphrase or summarize without crediting the source of the material;
  • Directly quote with no quotation marks, footnotes, or textual citation of the source;
  • Submit material from one class or course as if it were originally produced for this class or course—even if it is your own material (in other words, reusing papers submitted for a previous class, even a previous section of ENGL 2311, is considered autoplagiarism and is prohibited);
  • Submit material written by someone else as your own; this includes purchasing a term paper or essay;
  • Submit a paper or assignment for which you have received so much help that the writing is different from your own; or
  • Copy assignments in part or in whole previously submitted or written by another student.

Plagiarism detection software (Turnitin) will be used to check student work for plagiarism.

XV.Course Schedule:

COs / Module Objectives / Readings / Assignments / Assessments
Week One:
1/17 – 1/20
Intro to Tech Writing / CO1 / Intro class
Intro BB
Intro subject
Intro Company Report / R - Ch. 1 / R - Course Acknowledgement
R - Reading Notes 1
R - Freewrite 1: Brainstorming / R - Course Acknowledgement
R - Reading Notes 1
R - Freewrite 1: Brainstorming
Week Two: 1/23 – 1/27
Company or Nonprofit Organization / CO1
CO7 / Company research
RD/PR Workshop Company Report
Choose position
APA format / T - Ch. 4 and Appendix A p. 450-466
R - Peer Review Presentation and Getting Feedback / TR - RN 2&3