Syllabus

English 309:  Technical Writing
Benedda Konvicka

Spring 2008

Textbooks and Materials | Why This Course | Course Goals | Your Responsibilities | Projects and Assignments | Course Requirements | Grades | General Procedures | Distance Learning Information | Pre and Co-requisites | Online Courseware and Environment | Americans with Disabilities Act

Office Phone 
 (254) 968-9286 
English Department Phone 
 (254) 968-9039
Home Phone 
(254) 968-6663
Office Location
Room 336, Humanities Building
 Conference Hours and Communication Information:  I am available to speak with you on the phone anytime I am in my office or to meet with you in Chat anytime (within reason). Please never hesitate to e-mail me, telephone me, or ask me to meet with you in Chat or face-to-face (F2F). I have found that the most immediate and most satisfying immediate communication is using the phone. Call me whenever you need to. Now that you are here inside our course, please always use our WebCT Mail to contact me. This will keep all our class correspondence together throughout the semester.

There are no required class Chat meetings for this course. Instead, feel free to use Chat to visit with each other as you would in a face-to-face class. I will, however, require several conferences with each of you individually throughout the semester. These conference meetings can take place by telephone, or, if distance and time permit, we can meet in person. I do not use Chat for our conferences. All individual conferences will be scheduled as much as possible at your convenience, and they are counted within your activity grade. 

I will do everything I can to help us achieve a sense of community and connectedness in this cyber class. We will rely heavily on the Discussions bulletin board posts for our group class interaction. I will always try to respond to Discussions within the week they are posted and to all email messages within twenty-four hours. I will check my email from you each morning Monday through Friday and at least once each afternoon Monday through Thursdays. I do not check my academic email on the weekends. Please keep these times in mind when waiting for an email  response from me; this is still more contact than you normally get from meetings with your face-to-face instructors. The fastest means of contact is, as always, the telephone. Let's count on speaking to each other often. My office phone number is 254.968.9286

Welcome to cyber space, and I hope you enjoy this educational experience.
 

Benedda Konvicka
F2F Teaching Schedule: 
T Th 9:25—10:40
F2F Office Hours:  T Thxx11:00—12:00; 1:303:00

 

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks
To order your books online go to Tarleton's Online Bookstore Order TextBooks. You will need a credit card. Plan ahead.

There are two required texts you must purchase for this course. They are

1.

Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach, Paul V. Anderson, 6th edition; Thompson-Heinle Publishers. 

      ISBN: 1-4230-1770-3
      Phone # for orders: 1-800-423-0563. 

      Web Site Address:  http://www.heinle.com

    or

    Contact the Tarleton Campus Store for ordering:
    254-968-9007 or go to Tarleton's Online Bookstore Order TextBooks. Again, you will need a credit card to order your books Online from the bookstore.

   
2.

Readings in Technical Writing, ed. Nick Lilly. 10th edition; Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

      ISBN:978-0-7575-4405-7
      Please contact the Campus Store on the Tarleton Stephenville campus. The phone number is (254) 968-9007.

The bookstore here in Stephenville is VERY helpful and can get these books to you immediately.

   

There is one additional, required text book we will use this semester.

  • The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing, Leslie Perelman, James Paradis, and Edward Barrett (electronic copy: bound inside our courseware. You do not have to buy a print copy of this book. You can get to our handbook from the Handbook link either from the left Navigation bar or from the Handbook link from the "Course Content and Related Materials" organizer page.) 

 

 

Materials:

Microsoft Word:

Also, a further course requirement is that you have access to Microsoft Word as your word-processing program. The Technical Writing labs at Tarleton have Word MX installed. Even as an Online student, you will be completing the same assignments as my face-to-face students do. Some of your assignments will require that you use tables and book format documents. All of my instructions about how to achieve these tasks will be about how to achieve these results using Word. Therefore, you will need to have Word on your computer at home or have access to a computer which does have Microsoft Word installed. It does not have be MX. An older version of Word would be fine, but you will need Word. Works alone will not work for these assignments.

 
 
Additionally, for your research needs, you can always access the Tarleton Dick Smith Library Online.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why This Course?
This course possesses great professional and personal value whatever your major. No matter how adept you are in your future field, your success depends upon your ability to communicate effectively. Only by communicating can you make your knowledge and insights useful to your employees and clients, gain a fair hearing for your ideas and innovations, and win the kind of recognition and respect that leads to advancement. This course, therefore, is designed to help you toward mastery of a subject that will enable you to realize your potential as intelligent, creative professionals. 

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Basic Goals of the Course
The overall aim of English 2303 is to help you to become confident, flexible, effective communicators who can size up an on-the-job communication situation, make a plan for writing in that situation, and carry out that plan with skill and flair. 

This course is designed to prepare you to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Analyze each communication situation fully and accurately for information needs, audience, uses of information, and communication constraints
  • Gather, interpret, and document information logically, efficiently, and ethically
  • Develop professional work and teamwork habits
  • Design usable, clear, persuasive, and accessible documents
  • Select the appropriate method for presenting information
  • Organize information using reader-based principles
  • Use graphics effectively
  • Develop an effective, clear writing style
To achieve these course objectives, we will try to follow the these three strategies: 
  • Learning general approaches and principles to prepare you to write effectively in the wide variety of communication situations you will encounter on the job.
  • Learning to think constantly about your readers. By thinking about your readers in the act of reading, you will be able to predict your readers' thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires--and you will be able to design your messages accordingly.
  • Focusing on real-world writing. Through class discussions, examples, exercises, computer workshops, and assignments, you will think about and work with communication situations that involve the kinds of readers, purposes, and circumstances you will encounter at work. By doing so, this course will begin to prepare you to make practical, effective use of the general principles and techniques you will learn.

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Basic Student Responsibilities for this Course
Online courses can be a wonderful accommodation for students with burdens of work schedules and far distances, but they are not for everyone. You must, you must be self-motivated and self-reliant to be successful in this learning environment. Your responsibility as an Online student is to keep up, on you own, with the work that I assign every week, to read each page in your Course Content Modules, and to complete your work on time, in the time-line that I establish. Your primary textbook author, Paul Anderson, will tell you that, in the work world, it is better to be incomplete than it is to be late. Your boss will not take late work, so neither can I—not without it greatly effecting your grade. For every day an assignment is late, I will take five (5) points off the potential grade your document could have earned. This late-work policy will include week-end days. The Web, our course site, and the Assignments Tool are available 24-7.

So, how are you going to make sure that you follow your responsibility to stay current in this class? First, it will help if you understand how this course is organized. Every week of the semester corresponds to one week in our Course Content Modules. Week one of the semester is Unit 1; week two is Unit 2, and so on through the entire semester. To be certain that you are on track for each week/unit, get accustomed to using the Schedule page that you will find either by going to the Schedule link from our Course Menu (which is listed on the left side of your monitor when you are inside our class) or by going from the course Home Page, to the "Study Tools" organizer page and then to the "Schedule" link. Use this course schedule. Also use our course Content modules.

Each unit of course content has the exact same structure:

  1. Each content begins with a Banner Page that establishes the topic for that week.
  2. Following the Banner Page, each unit has a Set-Up Page.
    The unit Set-Up page will list every requirement for that week: reading, discussions, daily work, quiz, or major assignment.
  3. After every Set-Up page, you will find my Instructor's Comments for that week.
    The Instructor's Comments are equlivant to my course lectures. Read them. I am always available to help you in any way I can and to answer any questions that you might have, but I really do not want to answer questions about information that I explain in my week's lecture, especially when I track you and see that you have not read my lecture. Some weeks/units, my lectures, or comments, are only one page long. Other weeks, they may be longer. Please understand that I expect you to read the pages that I put inside our course content. That is how you "come to class" for this cyber course.
  4. After each Instructor's Comments page, or pages, I put an Evaluation Page in each unit.
    On the Evaluation page I list only the graded activities for that particular week/unit.
  5. Finally,each unit, or content module, ends with a Wrap-Up page. On the Wrap-Up page I try to create a bridge between what we are finishing in each week and what we will be beginning the following week.

Find the Schedule page now. Go look at it. It is your responsibility to keep up with the work you will find there.

Go into the Content Modules, expand the course Table of Contents, and see the repeated structure that is in each unit/week. That is where you will find what I would cover if this were a traditional face-to-face class. It is your responsibility to read each content page during the week that unit is assigned.

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Projects/ Assignments

The formal assignment you will complete this semester represent distinct types of communication that most of you will need to prepare in your careers. Most of the assignments are freestanding, but one belongs to document cycle. A document cycle is a group of communications that all concern a single undertaking. Document cycles are very common in the workplace, and arranging course projects into document cycles will help you begin to understand the interrelationships that often exist among workplace communications. Here are the seven assignments. 


Project 1: Interview and Investigative Report

 

Interview and Investigative Report (One free-standing assignment):

Learning Objectives Evaluation Report:
  • Learn the basics of gathering personal information
  • Learn the basics of structuring page design
  • Learn the basics of good professional prose
  • Learn the Style Sheet for this course
  • Learn the nature of Superstructures 
  • Learn the Superstructure for Reports
  • Learn memo header format
 
Evaluation Points:
  • Writing Situation: documents reflect an adequate understanding of this introductory writing situation 
  • Research: documents reflect skill in creating and gathering personal information
  • Presentation: reflects careful consideration of presentation of information on the page as appropriate for professional documents
  • Reflects proper superstructure components 
  • Demonstrates correct memo heading format 

See the Schedule Page for due date.

 

 

Project 2: Researched Professional Project 

Research: Supported Stance (Three joined assignments; two daily grades and one major grade):

Leaning Objectives Supported Stance/ Research Writing / Recommendation Report / Proposals

  • Practice professional gathering of information
  • Practice identifying places where visual aids would help and using those effectively to communicate empirical data immediately
  • Practice anticipating questions readers will ask about support
  • Learn the Superstructure of Reports
  • Learn how to use Microsoft Word to book format a document
Research Project Evaluation Points:
  • Presents a well-researched and well-analyzed list of options for action and will guide the reader through those options, providing clear recommendations and a potential plan for action
  • Answers questions the readers are likely to have and covers major areas of investigation
  • Uses visual aids to enhance and augment its argument where needed
  • Incorporates good design issues such as effective and parallel headings, effective use of white space and color, and appropriate font style and size selections
  • Demonstrates full book formatting

For this assignment, you will be conducting actual empirical research to support a stance you want to make. This must be a real-world document. It must be tied directly to your major. Use the professional vocabulary, tone, and presentation of your major field of study. You will also learn to use Microsoft Word to generate a Table of Contents and other portions of book formatting a document.

First, you must get permission from me by posting your proposed topic on the discussion board. In this post, you will explain the topic you are requesting my permission to investigate. You must also demonstrate your preliminary research in this message. You will then complete the researching, writing, revising, and book formatting of your semester project. Finally, you will also write an accompanying Letter or Memo of Transmittal for this researched document. The purpose of a transmittal document is to explain your document and your audience to me so that I am informed when I begin reading your document.

See the Schedule Page for due date.

 

 

Project 3: Instructions Manual: Directions Presentation

(One Assignment)

  • Modified Instructions presentation
  • Directions presentation

Learning Objectives: Modified Instructions Manual

  • Perform an audience analysis
  • Understand the difference in an Instructions Manual and Directions.
  • Write directions according to sound, reasoned consideration of information needed, visuals needed, and professional presentation

 

Evaluation Objectives: Directions Presentation

  • States clearly the purpose or aim
  • Recognizes and addresses audience by considering the users' expertise through audience analysis for consideration of what you need to include
  • Considers ethical implications such as the types of warnings or other information that may have an impact on the reader
  • Defines the subject in an overview, summarizes its content, and provides a mapping statement and lists necessary tools and materials
  • Includes only one task per number
  • Provides any necessary follow-up advice; includes a troubleshooter's guide, if appropriate; and describes how to recognize success in the conclusion
  • Provides adequate content clues through titles and headings
  • Reflects appropriate design choices
  • Reflects the professional presentation of Directions: text placement, visuals, reference to visuals, headings, type of fonts used, correct use of ordered lists.

In this document assignment, you will evaluate an existing set of Instructions, and you will write your own missing elements. Work on this document also introduces you to another important technical writing superstructure: Instruction sets. As you work on the Instructions, you will also learn about some critically important non-text dimensions of technical communication, including visual aids and manual page layout. 

See the Schedule Page for due date.

You will notice that all five assignments share this in common: all of them are representative of the kinds of writing you may one day be expected to produce. Also, in all but the Instructions Cycle, you pick your own topics. My experience is that most students prefer to do most or all of their work on topics of their own choosing. This increases their interest in and enthusiasm for the course work, and it enables them to practice writing about the very topics that will be the focus of their careers. 

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Course| RequirementsEvaluations. As much as possible, I will take the point of view of the intended readers in your projects. I will ask the following questions: 

  • Does the organization make sense from the point of view of the way that audience will use the communication? Does the communication answer the questions the readers will want it to answer? Does the project achieve the real or realistic purpose for which it was designed? Does the project demonstrate a mastery of the particular skills, strategies, forms, and structures that we are focusing upon at a particular point in the course?
  • Is the project error free? (Keep in mind that in the workplace the "Hallmarks of Illiteracy" are spelling errors, usage errors, punctuation errors (particularly comma blunders), and grammatical mistakes (i.e., subject/verb agreement, unintended fragments, noun/pronoun agreement, run-on's).
I cannot give A's to projects that wouldn't work on the job, and I will give lower grades to some projects that might merely suffice at work. Based on a workplace scale: 
  • excellent = A, High B (100-88)
  • good = B (87-83)
  • acceptable = Low B, High C (82-78)
  • marginal = C to low C (77-70)
  • unacceptable = F (59 and below)

Please notice that I do NOT give D

Deadlines are nonnegotiable. I will deduct a half letter grade for every day an assignment is late. 

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Grades

Your course average for your final grade will be figured using these averages: 
 

Project 1

Interview Report 

10%
Project 3

Researched Professional Project

40%
Project 3 Instructions Presentation
15%
Daily Average Daily Writing:
drafts ready on time
planning ready on time
comments made on time
etc.
Posts 
e-mail 
quizzes 
exercises
assignment self-evaluations
25%
Final Writing Demonstration Text/Skills Demonstration
10%

You will have several kinds of activities that comprise your Daily Average. Certainly, the requirements listed under "Evaluation" in each unit will be heavily figured into this portion of your course grade. You cannot make up unit quizzes or daily work. Daily work means exactly that: you either did or did not make your posts, take your quizzes, or submit your required exercises in the allotted time that a daily grade was assigned. 

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General Procedures and Requirements:

The following policies intend to help you develop and display professional work habits, both in individual work and teamwork. These habits include meeting deadlines, doing required work, and regular participation in class work:

  • Submit work correctly to ensure prompt and fair grading. All work for this class will be submitted in electronic form using the WebCT Assignments Tool. I will make comments on your documents and then return them to you. You need to go back to the Assignment link and look in your Graded Files drop-box to see your graded documents with my coments on them. Be certain to be thorough when you complete your WebCT Orientation so that you will know how to use the Assignments Tools well before a major project is due. 

    Complete and turn in work on time. Our units run from Tuesday at noon through to the following Tuesday morning until noon. I will always give you until 1:00 PM on the Tuesday a unit ends to submit all quizzes, exercises, and major assignments. After that hour, assignments will be late and quizzes will not be available for you to use. You may turn in your major assignments late, but I will deduct a half-letter grade [five (5) points] for every day your assignment is late. This does include week-end days because the assignments tool is available to you 24-7. However, remember, you need to begin a new unit every Monday, beginning at noon, in order to say up with your other classmates and our assignment schedule.

    Do your homework. I will expect you to complete all the assigned homework exercises, readings, and draft activities. Thirty percent of your course grade comes from your daily average, so do not take these activities lightly.

  • Plagiarism. Be certain that you clearly understand the university Academic Honesty Policy. Briefly, this policy states, "Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on an examination or other academic work, plagiarism, collusion, unauthorized use of technology, and the abuse of resource material." See you Student Handbook for further clarification and explanation of this policy, but in essence, count of this: if you plagiarize, you will fail the class and possibly face being suspended from the University. Offering the work of someone else's as your own, without proper acknowledgment, is plagiarism; therefore, any student who fails to give credit for quotations or essentially identical expression of material taken from books, encyclopedias, magazines, and other reference works, or from the theses, reports, or other writings of a fellow student or any other person, is guilty of plagiarism. Digital sources need to be properly quoted as well. If you use someone else's work or ideas, be careful to properly cite your source. Don't copy, and always turn in only your own work. I don't care how good a writer your Aunt Lucy is, don't get her to do your writing for you. I can't help you become a better writer if I'm not seeing your own writing. It's your grade; earn it yourself.

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Distance Learning Information:

TSU Center for Instructional Technology and Distributed Education:Elsa DeLeon: Administrative Secretary, 254-968-9060
CITDE Website: http://online.tarleton.edu/
Student Help for WebCT: http://online.tarleton.edu/stud_serv.htm
Please note that this contact information concerns only technical issues for WebCT. For course content questions, please contact me.

Research Components:You may need access to the Dick Smith Library materials for one or more of your writing projects. The links below will help you acquaint you with our library's distance education services and how to access library databases from your home.

Distance Education Services
Connecting From Home

Tarleton Campus Assistance:
For help with your username, password, or dial-up, call Information Resources (254 )968-9885 or try http://www.tarleton.edu/~helpdesk

For help accessing library databases, connecting from home, or using the proxy server, call Library Systems toll free (866) 339-5555, locally (254) 968-9466, or send an e-mail to libsystems@tarleton.edu.

Killeen Campus Assistance:
For help connecting from home, contact the Computer Lab, University Center room 117) or call (254) 519-5466.
For help with library databases, call Tarleton Library-Central Texas (254) 526-1244.

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Course Prerequisites, Co-requisites and Fees

Entrance Competencies and Skills:
Because the course is a web-based course, you need intermediate to advanced Internet-skills. For a good assessment of your current skills, take the Prentice Hall's online "test" to see if this kind of course is for you. You can find that test at http://webct.prenhall.com/public/dist_learn_hand/Is_DL_4_Me.htm

You know the prerequisites to the course: ENGL 111 and 112 or approval of the department head. What does that mean? Even if you have met them, you might not understand entrance competencies. You should be proficient in the following:

  • Writing an academic essay and document sources using a documentation standard such as MLA or APA; Writing using the rules of usage and grammar for Standard Academic English; Working in a self-directed environment;
  • Word-processing skills in a software application such as Microsoft Word.


Prerequisites:
English 111, 112 (You must have credit for these courses or their equivalents). By enrolling in this course, you are certifying that you have meet the prerequisites. If I find that you have not, you will be dropped from the course.Fees / Misc. Expenses:
Course Fee, $10; Distributed Education Fee, $25

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Learning the Software/Understanding the Online Environment: First:

    Go to Tarleton's Distance Education link and CAREFULLY read the first two links you will find on the Student Commons' page: ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR DISTANCE LEARNING? and IS A WEB-BASED CLASS RIGHT FOR YOU? An Online class is designed for an Online student. If you are not already VERY comfortable using your computer, surfing the Web, using e-mail, creating electronic documents, attaching files, etc., this class simply is not for you. Knowledge of these activities is a prerequisite for this course. You cannot expect to learn how to do all of these things and then learn all the content material of this course also. You would be taking two courses at once. Also, I think it should go without saying that you cannot confidently expect to complete an Internet class without your own computer and Internet connection.
Second:
    We will be using a course management system called WebCT. The first week of our semester will be devoted to making sure you learn now to use WebCT. If you are proficient with your computer, you can easily meet the following objectives of our Class and WebCT Orientation:
    • Learn to log on to WebCT Learn to use the basics of WebCT's tools
    • Learn to use the repetitive structure of each of our course units: Banner Page, Set-Up Page, Online Lecture Page(s), Evaluation Page, and Wrap-Up Page.

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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT: 
 If you have special needs due to a learning disability or other disability, please contact Ms. Trina Geye, the Director of Student Disabilities Services. Her phone number is 968-9400; email disability@tarleton.edu . Her office is located in the Mathematics Building, Room 201, Stephenville campus. Students who have special instructional needs because of a physical or learning disability should discuss them as soon as possible with Ms. Geye. No instructional accommodations can be made unless requested by her office.

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