F18 Advanced Technical Writing 003

From russo.xyz/wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Technical Writing
ENGL Advanced Writing
School: Clemson University
Section: ENGL 3140-003
CRN: 81792
Semester: Fall 2018
Location: ASC 300
Time: TTh 8:00am-9:15am
Instructor: Michael Russo
Contact: On Canvas
Additional: Office hours
and more on our Canvas page.
#! This is a course description page, designed for students and containing the course syllabus and expectations.
#! If you are a student, then check this page regularly for updates.
#! All changes are recorded and documented on the course history page.

ENGL Advanced Technical Writing, ENGL 3140-003, Clemson University, focuses on clear, effective writing, tailored to specific audiences, as you might find in a business, journalistic, or informative settings. In addition to practicing your ability to understand and use a focused rhetoric--cutting the fluff from your work and keeping your word counts low--you will learn to effectively use data visualization software, distant reading techniques, and ethical communication practices. You will be writing in a variety of technical genres, and you will also learn to work collaboratively and present information in realized, readable prose.

WHY? -- People, institutions, companies, and governments all use rhetoric all of the time. You use rhetoric all the time too. It’s everywhere. It’s important to know how to use it intentionally for specific purposes and audiences. You may not be a technical writer yet, but you will be writing technical documents and working within a technical framework throughout the semester.

Learning Goals

The primary objective of an advanced writing course is to provide students with skills to write formal compositions (such as critical essays, lab reports, grant proposals, business proposals, and research papers) through practice with informal formats (such as freewriting, blogs, field notes, and letters) and through processes of revision (including peer review, rewriting, reverse engineering a paper, etc.) As a result of practicing writing in venues and formats having lower stakes, students should become more confident in their abilities to use writing as a tool to learn about a subject they wish to explore and analyze and in their abilities to use writing as a tool to demonstrate to teachers, to themselves, and eventually to clients,what they have learned and how they propose to apply their knowledge about that subject.

By the end of ENGL 3140, Technical Communication, you should have a strong comprehension the following, essential concepts.

Critical Communications Concepts
  • Explore the dynamics in the technical writing environment and its discourse communities
  • Understand the role of audience, purpose and context through communication models and related rhetorical frameworks
  • Recognize ethical challenges that relate to workplace communication and chart the professional and personal principles that help answer them
  • Foster cultural sensitivity to identify and negotiate the cultural variables that influence communication within and among organizations
  • Acquire research skills to collect, analyze, document and report data ethically and professionally
Effective Communications Strategies
  • Practice the iterative writing and production process, which includes careful planning and multiple revisions
  • Use rhetorical strategies as you read, and as you design, organize, and deliver professional and persuasive communication
  • Examine complex communicative challenges and develop effective solutions by (1) identifying the stakeholders, their conflicting interests, and the contextual constraints, (2) conducting audience and needs analysis using primary and secondary research techniques, (3) defining and clearly expressing the scope and purpose of professional documents
  • Explore how writing technologies facilitate communication goals
  • Plan, manage, and evaluate individual and team writing projects
Targeted Multimodal Presentations
  • Identify and adopt the industry’s and its discourse communities’ genre conventions and best writing practices. Genres may include reports, proposals, protocols, manuals, workplace messages, wikis, and more.
  • Recognize and develop professional format and design features in presentations, print and digital publications, texts and visuals
  • Practice the unique qualities of a professional writing style including conciseness, clarity, accuracy, readability, honesty
  • Develop evaluative skills such as editing, proofreading, and usability testing

Required Texts and Supplies

The Essentials of Technical Communication, by Tebeaux & Draga
A Strategic Guide to Effective Technical Communication, by Graves & Graves
STYLE: Lessons in Clarity & Grace, by Williams & Bizup
Network Sense, by Derik N. Mueller
Slack Workflow
Adobe Creative Cloud

IMPORTANT NOTE: This list of resources will update as the class progresses. Students are expected to check the syllabus regularly.

You do not need to buy any books for this class.

All readings and excerpts provided by instructor or available through Clemson libraries.

  • Graves, Heather and Robert Graves. A Strategic Guide to Technical Communication. (1st Ed.). Print. ISBN: 1551118149
  • Mueller, Derik N. Network Sense: Methods for Visualizing a Discipline." Print. ISBN: 1607328623
  • Tebeaux, Elizabeth and Sam Dragga. The Essentials of Technical Communication (3rd Ed.). Print. ISBN: 0199379998
  • Williams, Joseph M. and Joseph Bizup. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (11th Ed.). Print. ISBN: 0321898680

Other Readings
  • Bizup, Joseph. "BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing." Rhetoric Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2008, pp. 72-86.
  • Elster, Jon. "Hard and Soft Obscurantism in the Humanities and Social Sciences." Diogenes, vol. 58, no. 1-2, 2011, pp. 159-170.
  • Freedman, Morris. "The Seven Sins of Technical Writing." College Composition and Communication, vol. 9, no. 1, 1958, pp. 10-16.
  • Inga, Danielle. "Dark Arts: Designed Communications and a New Rhetoric of Authenticity." Design and Culture, vol. 4, no. 1, 2012, pp. 5-25.
  • Katz, Steven B. "The Ethic of Expediency: Classical Rhetoric, Technology, and the Holocaust." College English, vol. 54, no. 3, 1992, pp. 255-275.
  • Katz, Steven B. "Guest Editorial: A Response to Patrick Moore's "Questioning the Motives of Technical Communication and Rhetoric: Steven Katz's 'Ethic of Expediency'"." Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, vol. 36, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1.
  • Moore, Patrick. "Questioning the Motives of Technical Communication and Rhetoric: Steven Katz's "Ethic of Expediency"." Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, vol. 34, no. 1-2, 2004, pp. 5.
  • Selfe, Cynthia L., and Richard J. Selfe. "The Politics of the Interface: Power and its Exercise in Electronic Contact Zones." College Composition and Communication, vol. 45, no. 4, 1994, pp. 480-504.
  • Orwell, Politics and the English Language
Still Images
  • Various Images from r/CrappyDesign. Link.
  • Various Images from Information is Beautiful. Link.
Moving Pictures
  • The Beauty of Data Visualization. (2012) David McCandelss TED Link
Audio Files
  • "Introduction to Technical Writing." I'd Rather Be Writing Podcast. Link.
  • "Technical Writing." Virtual Speaking Podcast. Link.
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab. Link.
  • The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Link.
  • Clemson Canvas System (used for homework and our online discussion group). Link.


Homework Assignments

20% of Final Grade:
There will be numerous in-class writing exercises supplemented with homework reading, writing, and analysis. These homework assignments will allow you to practice writing in different forms and genres (including electronic environments) for various audiences and purposes. So long as you turn your homework in on time and so long as your homework meets the requirements of the assignment, you will receive 80% credit for your work. If you do not turn the homework in on time, you will forfeit credit for the assignment and this portion of your grade will suffer. To repeat: the homeworks cannot be turned in late.

Online Discussion

20% of Final Grade: Weekly participation on the online discussion board is mandatory. New discussions will be posted at the start of class each Tuesday of every week. You will have one week to respond in the new discussion. You must write a response that's at least 250 words long. You are encouraged to tailor your responses to other students' posts, engage in conversation, and post more often than once. If you turn the discussion in on time, and if your response meets the requirements of the discussion prompt, you will receive 80% for your work. To earn more credit for forum posts, you must engage with other students, leave helpful feedback and response. If you are inactive on the discussion board, then you will receive a 0% for every incomplete weekly post. Incomplete online discussions posts cannot be made-up or resubmitted.

Technical Rewrite

20% of Final Grade: You will be choosing a text to be re-written for a technical or professional audience of your own choosing. Your goal in this assignment is to take an existing piece of writing (not your own) and rework it to fit within a new rhetorical framework. For example, you may rewrite Harry Potter as a Lab Report, or rewrite The Art of the Deal as a grant proposal, or rewrite an your favorite short story as wiki. There is no set word limit or page count on this project, but you will have to write a short proposal regarding what you plan to do, how you plan to accomplish it, and why I should accept it for grading. More details will be discussed in class.

Technical Handbook

20% of Final Grade: You will be creating, printing, and binding a technical handbook on the subject of your own choosing. This might be a walk-through guide, a instruction manual, a research manual, or otherwise. We will be discussing this project extensively in class; however, for the sake of clarity, you should know that: (1) the manual needs to be no less than twenty pages, (2) should include ethical citation practices, (3) should include data visualation techniques, (4) should be aesthetically appealing as well as stylistically focused. I will be looking at grammatical and syntactical elements as well as visual elements.

Group Multimodal Project

20% of Final Grade (all parts must be submitted in order to receive full credit for this assignment):

This group assignment requires a group of students to develop a multimodal presentation from a TECHNICAL HANDBOOK (see above). The group will choose which handbook to use for this project, will draw from the information therein, and will present that information using multimodal composition strategies discussed in class (visual, textual, aural, tactile). Each member of the group will take on their own responsibilities (again dictated by the group). Examples of the form your multimodal argument might take: photo-essay, documentary, website, remix, collage/montage, video-game, podcast, mp3 file(s), blog, or another approved multi-media combination.

  • GROUP PRESENTATION: Group projects will be presented during the final week of class (see schedule for due dates). The presentations must feature a complete or near-complete version of your group's final multimodal project presented in a professional manner and discussing the rhetorical strategies you've learned throughout the semester. Presentations should NO LONGER THAN 30-minutes long (20-minutes presenting, 10-minutes fielding and answering questions from the class).
  • FINAL GROUP MULTIMODAL DELIVERABLE: Your multimodal projects will be evaluated on the overall quality of the argument, the design quality, as well as the creativity and effort needed to produce a final product comparable to a traditional essay. This does not mean your project needs to include 2000 words, but it should represent an equal amount of work (researching, designing, writing, etcetera) as would have gone into a traditional paper. The project also requires a Works Cited, video credits, etcetera, in the form expected by the genre in which you are presenting. Important: Your group project must be accompanied by a short written statement in which the group grades itself and its members based on effort, engagement, and participation.


Contract Grading

For more information on the pedagogic theory behind our grading system, see Peter Elbow: Unilateral Contract.

  • CONTRACT GRADING: You start with a B-grade (80%) in this class, and you are guaranteed a B-grade so long as you attend class regularly and complete all the assignments.
  • PASS/FAIL: All assignments will be graded pass/fail (0% or 80%). However, work that goes above and beyond what's been asked, or work is exceptionally polished will receive additional points in intervals of 5%. These additional points in conjunction with several extra-credit assignments will earn you an A-grade in the class.
  • LATE PAPERS: Homework assignments, online discussions, and extra-credit assignments cannot be turned in late. The larger projects (technical rewrite and manual) can be turned in late, but with a 5% reduction of your grade for every day the assignment is overdue.
  • MAKE-UP ASSIGNMENTS: If you receive a 0% on a homework assignment, an online discussion, or an extra-credit assignment, you cannot make it up. The larger projects will be handled on a case by case basis.
  • Students are allowed up to TWO absences without penalty. The instructor reserves the right to drop/fail any student who has missed more than the allowed absences.
  • Arriving late to class or leaving early is unprofessional and will be factored into the attendance policy. Each recorded lateness will count as one tardy. Three tardies equal one absence. Any student will be marked absent if you arrive more than 5 minutes after the start of class (usually, about the time it takes to complete the roll call).
  • The instructor will determine what to do in case of extended illness or personal crisis on a case-by-case basis. However, excessive absences are an adequate reason for being failed in first-year composition, even if the student has turned in all the required papers on time. If you expect to miss a lot of class time, then you might want to consider dropping the class.
Document Formatting
Submitting your assignment via Google Docs.

Most written assignments will be submitted in Google Docs, Microsoft Office, or Adobe Products. Because these softwares have their own affordances and constraints, I will make it clear which it to be used for which assignment.

Note: When using Google Docs, do not send your files directly to my email address. Instead, use the "GET SHAREABLE LINK" option, and be sure that "ANYONE WITH THE LINK CAN EDIT" is chosen from the drop-down menu (see the image to the right). Paste your link into Canvas in the relevant assignment. We will discuss how to do this in class, and a walk-thru guide will be made available. Additionally, our first assignment will be an ungraded "test assignment" in which you learn how to share files with Google Docs.

  • IMPORTANT: When logging into Google Docs, use your @g.clemson.edu account (not your personal account).

I will not answer emails from students who miss class and desire to know what happened in their absence. Also, I do not need to know the reason you miss class unless you plan to be absent for an extended period of time.

Electronic Devices

This course requires the use of computer technologies in and out of class. Students are expected to bring their laptops to class with batteries fully charged. While some class time is provided for computer literacy instruction, the instructor will either provide additional help on an individual basis or recommend other support for advanced applications. You are encouraged to use laptop computers, tablets, and cell-phones in this class (except in cases when you are asked to put them away). But you are expected to use these devices --especially your cell-phone -- for in-class activities only, with respect to other students and to the instructor. Disruptive behavior will result in a marked absence.

Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on Academic Integrity: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a 'high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

A simple definition of plagiarism -- one that we will expand upon this semester -- is when someone presents another person’s words, visuals, or ideas as his/her own. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copy-pastes text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university.


Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located here.

  • Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Schedule of Classes

The following is a tentative breakdown of meeting times and assignments.
You will notice that most homework assignments are only viewable at a two-week notice.

This schedule WILL CERTAINLY update as the class progresses, including added homework assignments and other small changes.

  • Students are expected to CHECK THE SCHEDULE REGULARLY.
Date Reading Due Assignment Due Notes
Th.08.23 n/a n/a Course introduction, what is technical writing?
Tu.08.28 READ: Tebeaux, Chapters 1&2;
READ: Graves, Chapter 1
Online Discussion 1;
Please come to class with a working definition of "technical writing"
Th.08.30 READ: Graves, Chapter 4
Tu.09.04 READ: Tebeaux, Chapter 4 Online Discussion 2
Homework 01: Evaluating a Work of Technical Writing
Last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without a W grade.
Th.09.06 READ: Orwell, "Politics and the English Language" Please bring to class and recent paper that you've written for another class.
Tu.09.11 READ: Tebeaux: Chapter 8;
READ: Graves, Chapter 5
Online Discussion 3
HW 2: Technical Rewrite Practice w/Orwell
Th.09.13 Student Choice Bring in at least two possible sources for your upcoming technical rewrite project
Tu.09.18 "The Ethics of Expediency" Online Discussion 4
Technical Rewrite Project Due
Th.09.20 Document design and infotainment
Tu.09.25 n/a Online Discussion 5
HW 03: PowerPoint Infotainment
Th.09.27 "The Seven Sins of Technical Writing" Please bring in an example of writing that transgresses one or more of Freedman's "sins."
Tu.10.02 Grammar Online Discussion 6
Th.10.04 Grammar
Tu.10.09 Research Online Discussion 7 / wiki
Th.10.11 n/a Sign up/engage on Slack (download the mobile app) Midterm Evals will be submitted to registrar
Tu.10.16 Group/Departmental paperwork Online Discussion 8
Th.10.18 Review each other's work/communicate in Slack HW: Job Descriptions must be turned in.
Tu.10.23 Software Workshop Online Discussion 9
Progress Report A
Th.10.25 Software Workshop Tomorrow (the 26th) is last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without final grades.
Tu.10.30 n/a Online Discussion 10
Technical Handbook Project Due
Th.11.01 Data & Medium Conversion Choosing our multimodal groups!
Tu.11.06 Online Discussion 11 NO CLASS: FALL BREAK
Th.11.08 Extra Credit: Tech Rewrite, Take 2
Tu.11.13 Online Discussion 12
Tu.11.20 Online Discussion 13
Tu.11.27 Online Discussion 14
Th.11.29 READ Tebeaux, Chapter 11;
READ: Graves, Chapter 11
Tu.12.04 Online Discussion 15;
In Class Presentations
Th.12.06 In Class Presentations
Tu.12.11 Extra Credit Online Discussion;
Multi-modal Deliverable due by midnight.
All other assignments, rewrites, or extra-credits are due by midnight

Extra Credits

Because this class is pass/fail at 80%, extra credit assignments may be essential to earning an A-grade. Students who do these assignments are more likely to receive the highest possible grade in the class. Extra credits will be announced and added to the syllabus as the course progresses.

  • Technical Rewrite, Take 2: The first technical rewrite project comes near the beginning of the semester, when you are still learning definitions and genres. However, you will have the opportunity to create a second rewrite (using different source material) later in the year. Completing this project and including new rhetorical techniques can earn up to 5% added to your final grade.
  • Online Discussion 01, Resume: If you create a fake resume for a technical writing position and post it alongside your first forum post, 1% will be added to your final grade.


The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. As an English 1030 student, you should feel free to utilize the Writing Center to receive additional help or feedback on any course assignments or projects. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website, by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.


Clemson University values the diversity of our student body as a strength and a critical component of our dynamic community. Students with disabilities or temporary injuries/conditions may require accommodations due to barriers in the structure of facilities, course design, technology used for curricular purposes, or other campus resources. Students who experience a barrier to full access to this class should let the professor know, and make an appointment to meet with a staff member in Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing studentaccess@lists.clemson.edu, or by visiting Suite 239 in the Academic Success Center building. Appointments are strongly encouraged – drop-ins will be seen if at all possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. Students who receive Academic Access Letters are strongly encouraged to request, obtain and present these to their professors as early in the semester as possible so that accommodations can be made in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here.