WRTG 3030 016, 019 Writing on Science and Society Spring 09

WRTG 3030 016, 019 Writing on Science and Society Spring 09


WRTG 3030---016, 019 Writing on Science and Society Spring 09

Instructor: Tory Tuttle

Office: Temporary Building 1, Rm. 204 (TB-1 is east of Sewall Hall and west of the Rec Center).

Mailbox: TB-1--in the hall, outside and to the right of Room 113 (the first door you see inside TB-1)

Office Hours: MW 1:15-2:45—or by appointment

Office phone: (303) 492-6011 (Leave message on voice mail if I’m not there.)


COURSE DESCRIPTION: In your work you will frequently be expected to communicate your ideas on science and technology to others--to people both within and outside of your specific field. This course will help you improve your critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills so that you may communicate your ideas effectively. You will not only gain familiarity with professional business documents such as letters and proposals, but also learn to apply your disciplinary expertise to broader social and ethical issues. As you analyze issues within this interplay of contexts, you’ll learn to exercise your abilities and responsibilities as individuals within the profession and as citizens within your community.

Your writing will serve as the primary text for this course, which will be conducted as an intensive workshop: you will not only present drafts of your work to classmates, you’ll read and critique drafts of others, and then discuss them in class. We will focus on strategies of analysis and argument, and upon shaping your sentences and ideas and so that your writing becomes both clear and persuasive.

Coursework: You will begin by reading articles that highlight, primarily, ethical issues in science and technology, and, in a number of short assignments you’ll react to the writing and analyze the rhetorical situations. Soon you will be working on several larger projects—a persuasive letter or memo, a developed argument on an ethical issue, and, ultimately, an longer individualized project, suited to your particular interests and expertise. This project will employ a professional writing genre—a proposal—that requires substantive development, appropriate to its audience. Assignment sheets will explain assignments and projects in more detail.

In your class work, and, in particular, as you present these projects in workshop, we will take advantage of you as an intellectual resource and part of the course design—in terms of your writing and speaking, your disciplinary interests, and your role as a reader. Your work on these projects will provide you an opportunity to:

  • Develop critical thinking skills and effective communication strategies that you can adapt from one task to another, from discipline to discipline.
  • Use relevant issues in science and technology as an occasion to explore and apply rhetorical principles and strategies.
  • Recognize how sustained focus on revision hones the analytical and argumentative edge required by many forms of technical and professional communication.
  • Practice professional forms.
  • Work collaboratively on communication issues through workshop, peer response, and optional team projects.
  • Take advantage of multiple dimensions of communication—written and oral, formal and interpersonal.

Your own writing and speaking projects will serve as core materials. Although there is no formal prerequisite, the work requires that you already have some facility in writing. We will only occasionally address sentence-level writing problems. Instead, we will focus on shaping your writing and speaking so that your point is clear, persuasive, and supported with evidence.

Texts: Your writing

Paradis & Zimmerman, The MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication ed.2

Selected Readings (on Electronic Reserve. See <http://ucblibraries.colorado.edu>)

Occasions (available online; see <http://www.colorado.edu/pwr/occasions/list.html>)

a good handbook (such as Raimes, Ann, Pocket Keys for Writers)

a good dictionary

a notebook or folder for informal writing (short assignments, journal entries)


University of Colorado at Boulder Core Requirement: Offered through the Program for Writing and Rhetoric, College of Arts and Sciences, WRTG 3030 fulfills the core upper-division writing requirement for students majoring in engineering and in physical and biological sciences. The course builds on skills practiced in the first year writing core requirement by applying an advanced understanding of rhetorical concepts to communication within specialized fields.

CCHE Requirements: WRTG 3030 meets CCHE criteria for an Advanced Writing Course (GT-CO3). Specifically, this course will extend your rhetorical knowledge, your experience in the writing process, your mastery of writing conventions, and your awareness of effective communication strategies.

Extend Rhetorical Knowledge. Rhetoric, simply put, is an individual’s use of language and images to move an audience. Awareness of how a writer can shape her words to successfully present her ideas to her audience makes a critical difference in a writer’s success. In this class, as we analyze the different readings and the writing of colleagues in workshop, all written for different audiences with varying purposes, we’ll gain insight into the various strategies different writers employ to influence their audiences. For instance, in reading The MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication, we’ll see Paradis and Zimmerman reveal how the project design as well as sentence shape influence the reader. Michael Halloran, in “The Birth of Molecular Biology: An Essay in the Rhetorical Criticism of Scientific Discourse,” shows how, in “A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,” the rhetorical choices of James Watson and Francis Crick, choices particularly of tone and organization, effect the tremendous audience acceptance of their conception of DNA. In articles as varied as George Brown’s, “Technology’s Dark Side” and Barbara Ehrenreich’s, “Science, Lies and the Ultimate Truth,” we’ll see how each writer’s rhetorical choices—from organization of material to sentence structure and word choice--result in a specific kind of clear, dynamic writing that affects audiences in a particular way.

Extend Experience in Writing Processes. In the writing workshop we’ll put the “Rhetorical Knowledge” to the test. In workshop you’ll present early drafts of your papers to some or all members of the class. There, in the community of colleagues, you’ll see how an audience reacts to your work, and, as you critique the work of others, you’ll gain a stronger sense of the needs of the audience. Both will influence your writing, as you, again and again, revise your draft. Simultaneously, in workshop and peer review assignments you’ll practice effective approaches to working collaboratively. Finally, as you work on your final proposal, you will make use of information literacy skills and various technologies, including online research tools and PowerPoint to research and communicate the worth of your proposal.

Extend Mastery of Writing Conventions. The formal papers of this course call for appropriate conventions of academic and professional writing. You’ll learn how audience determines the conventions you use, whether you are writing a summary, a letter, an analysis, or a proposal. Instruction will focus on rhetorically informed strategies relevant to the communication needs of engineering and scientific fields, dealing with issues of style, grammar, and organization in the context of larger rhetorical and argumentative concerns. The goal will always be to create clear dynamic writing that meets the needs of the audience.

Advance Content Knowledge through Communication Strategies. Since each piece of academic and professional writing has a purpose, each assignment in this course has a particular purpose, and a particular audience. You‘ll adjust your writing and speaking to present that purpose and to reach that audience. The sequence of assignments as well as the exposure to the expertise and research of your peers give you practice in adapting and designing communication strategies to meet the needs of specialized readers. In workshop and as you present your proposal, the course will also help you improve your oral presentation skills.


Workshop: The course emphasizes revision; you’ll present several drafts of your major papers to others in workshop. While the working drafts will not be graded, I expect you to give considerable thought and attention to all work you turn in. The “first draft” you turn in for workshop will probably not be the first draft you write—even in an early draft, you should strive to be clear and meet the needs of your audience. Be sure you keep working on your next draft as we review the drafts of others in workshop. These drafts are necessary to the progress of your writing and necessary to class discussion.

Since, it is imperative that you turn your drafts in on time, after receiving a workshop schedule, it will be your responsibility to prepare about 18 copies of your draft for workshop (photocopying is a textbook cost) and have it ready on time. Unless you have made prior arrangements with me, I will only accept a draft or paper on or before the date due. Copies of drafts are due at the beginning of class. Failure to turn in drafts on time will lower the final grade of your paper. I will take off five points for each time you fail to turn in a draft when it is due. (Allow time for printer problems. Plan ahead to have money to make copies. Staple pages before class.) In workshop we will critique the drafts, point out strengths and weaknesses, determine ways to improve the drafts. You will not necessarily receive an individual critique in class of each draft you turn in. After workshop you will revise that draft. Revisions for me must be handed in with my previous marked-up draft attached.

Work must be original and written for the class. I will not accept a final paper that has not been reviewed in workshop. Be sure you document all sources appropriately, using a standard style such as MLA or APA—use your handbook (not MIT). See me or the Writing Center if you need extra help.

Attendance: Attendance is required—we need your input in the workshop since we rely on each other as fellow writers and as readers. I allow three absences, excused or unexcused, but after that you will lose five points from your final grade for each subsequent absence (I only make exceptions for extraordinary circumstances such as hospitalization; exceptions must be agreed upon in writing). Use your absences wisely. If you do miss a class, please contact another student to find out what happened in class; you are responsible for knowing what went on. Moreover, if you miss a class before a workshop day, please pick up and prepare the drafts for that workshop. Those drafts will be in my box in TB-1. Come to class prepared and on time. Be aware that late arrivals or early departures will count as absences (if your previous class is on the other side of campus, please let me know in writing if you will be slightly late to class).

Participation: Besides preparing and turning in your drafts on time, you must pick up, read, and mark your colleagues’ papers before class. Active participation throughout the semester is crucial to the writing workshop, so come to class ready to comment on the papers. Failure to prepare for workshop ahead of time will hurt your participation grade. 10% of your grade depends on participation.

Paper Format: Except for informal writing, such as DEJs all papers must be typed, double-spaced, with at least 1" margins on all sides. For all assignments, please include in heading: your name, the class and section, the assignment title (i.e. Ethics argument, 1st draft) and the due date. Please number your pages. Also, in the unlikely event that the original paper gets lost, keep a copy of every paper you turn in (and don’t forget to back up your hard drive daily). Please keep returned short assignments in your notebook.

Plagiarism: Your work must be original. If you present the work or ideas of someone else as your own, you are plagiarizing. If you fail to use quotation marks for directly quoted work, if you fail to document another's ideas, if you document falsely, if you submit someone else's work as your own, you are plagiarizing. Any paper that contains plagiarism will be failed. Plagiarism is grounds for failing the course--ignorance is no excuse. See also MIT p.131, “Paraphrases.” If you are not sure whether or not you are inadvertently plagiarizing, talk to me or to someone in the Writing Center before turning in your paper. This course provides an opportunity to understand issues of intellectual property and the appropriate use and citation of sources. For a general introduction, see the Student Honor Code at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/honor.html.

Email, on-line materials, electronic devices: Since we will frequently use email communication, please check your email account several times a week. If you live off campus, you will need to establish remote access to the library to access on-line library materials through your home computer. See the University Libraries website for information on setting proxy servers. Otherwise, you will need to use library computers. Before class, please turn off electronic devices, such as cell phones. Do not send text messages in class unless you wish to receive an absence for that day. In class you may only use laptops to access class materials and readings. For assistance on technical computing matters, contact 735-HELP or 5-4357 for the ITS Help-line.

GRADING: Grading standards are rigorous. The grades of your short assignments, oral presentations, the final versions of the four major papers, and participation will determine your final grade. Remember that attendance can affect your final grade.

Grade Breakdown: Short Assignments (includes informal writing, journal assignments): 20%

Engineers’ Code Letter: 10%

Ethics Argument Essay 25%

Oral Report: 10%

Proposal: 25%

Participation: 10%

Grading Standards

A (90-100%): A paper that is exceptional in form and content; original, substantive, insightful, beautifully organized. Clear, graceful, error-free style.

B (80-89%): A clearly written, well-developed, very interesting paper that shows above average thought and writing craft. No major flaws.

C (70-79%): A paper that presents a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. It may be organized on the surface level and attempt to support a thesis, but have unresolved problems in conception or reasoning, possibly accompanied by distracting grammatical errors and stylistic flaws. It may work to fulfill the basic requirements of the assignment, but, finally, say little of significance. It may be a competently written essay that is mainly descriptive when the assignment requires analytical or argumentative writing.

D (60-69%): A paper seriously deficient in content, form, style, or mechanics. It may be disorganized, illogical, confusing, unfocused, or contain pervasive errors that impair readability.

F (0-59%: A paper that is incoherent, disastrously flawed, unacceptably late, plagiarized, or nonexistent.


Second Language: If you speak English as a second language, you should contact me before the third class meeting so that I can better assist you in the course, advise you about special ESL courses, and/or refer you (if needed or desired) to appropriate services on campus.

Disabilities: If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs may be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities (Willard 322, 303-492-8671 <www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices>). I will make every reasonable and appropriate effort to meet your learning needs. Whether you “qualify” for accommodations or not, please let me know if your learning style varies significantly from the norm. We can work out our own accommodations.

Religious Observance. In accordance with university policy, I will make reasonable accommodation for religious observance. Please let me know ahead of time if you will be absent. If, because of your observance, any conflicts come up with work due, talk to me so we can reschedule. See <http://www.colorado.edu/policies/fac_relig.html>.

Classroom behavior: Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Students who fail to adhere to behavioral standards maybe subject to discipline. Faculty have the professional responsibility to treat students with understanding, dignity and respect, to guide classroom discussion, and to set reasonable limits on the manner in which students express opinions. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, and nationalities. See policies at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/classbehavior.html and

http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/judicialaffairs/code.html#student_code .

Honor Code: All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include cheating, plagiarism, academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. I will report all incidents of academic misconduct to the Honor Code Council. Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Additional information may be found at http://www.colorado.edu/policies/honor.html and http://www.colorado.edu/academics/honorcode/ .

Sexual harassment: The University of Colorado Policy on Sexual Harassment applies to all students, staff, and faculty. Any student, staff or faculty member who believes s/he has been sexually harassed should contact the Office of Sexual Harassment at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Judicial Affairs at 303-492-5550. Information about the OSH and the campus resources available to assist individuals who believe they have been sexually harassed may be found at http://www.colorado.edu/sexualharassment/


DEJ: Double Entry Journal (see below)