English 308:  Syllabus

Course description

English 308 offers junior- and senior-level students the opportunity to develop their use of the rhetorical strategies and communications technologies appropriate to technical writing situations. Students will plan, create, and user-test a range of individual and collaborative projects including, but not limited to, technical documentation, proposals, reports, job materials, and other technical genres. Project management, documentation plans, style guides, and usability testing are just some of the topics studied in English 308. Through simulations and case studies, students will analyze and reflect upon the role of communication practices in a range of technical settings. Students can expect to engage in reading discussions, daily assignments, on- and off-campus research, technology use, and oral reports. Some of the major goals of 308 include:

  • Recognize writing as a social act grounded in and dependent on context, involving multiple audiences and serving various purposes
  • Understand a range of research methods (e.g., fieldwork, interviews, observations, analyses, online, and library).
  • Consider how purposes, audiences, situations, and methods affect writers’, readers’, and/or users’ perceptions of written documents.
  • Learn how to conduct and manage short- and long-term projects, both individually and collaboratively.
  • Develop strategies for planning, researching, and developing documents that effectively respond to professional situations.
  • Learn and apply usability and/or peer review strategies to create projects for multiple user and/or reader needs.
  • Use technology to assist in the planning and production of projects.

Required Materials

A fundamental assumption of this course is that an increasing amount of workplace writing will take place online--not merely as documents word processed then printed out, but in email, realtime remote discussion, and other forms. In order to learn to communicate more effectively online, much of your work in this course will rely on email, listserv, the WWW, and other electronic media. 

In fact, the bulk of your course materials such as syllabus, schedule, and project guides will be made available to you through this course web site.

If you would like to purchase a handbook to give you supplemental information about technical writing genres, I suggested you purchase a copy of The Technical Writer's Companion, spiral edition by Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu, and Gerald J. Alred. 
Used and new copies available through Amazon or other online bookshops. 

Course Policies

Technology Requirements

In our class, you should expect to engage in quite a bit of computer work this semester. The main form of communication as well as planning and production of documents will rely on the computer. Thus, in order to participate fully in the course, you should be able to use the technologies listed below.

  • Microsoft Office Applications, particularly Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher.
  • A Web Editor such as Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver.
  • Internet Explorer or other web browser.
  • UA webmail which allows you to send and receive email attachments during computer class sessions.

Technology Responsibilities

Because the exchange of information and materials in this class will be largely electronic, familiarity with certain technologies is crucial for participation and success in the course. Thus, you should be able to attend to the responsibilities in the list below. If you need any assistance now or at any point during the semester, please do not hesitate to ask me.

  • Have access to a University of Arizona account for communication with me, your peers, and clients, and for storage space of web documents.
  • Become proficient sending and receiving email attachments through your University of Arizona account.
  • Check the D2L site daily for updates.
  • Become more proficient with unfamiliar computer technologies and applications.
  • Maintain back-up copies of all assignments via media storage and/or email attachments to yourself.

Collaborative Work

Collaborative work is a major element of our course. In fact, most projects in our course will require you to act as either co-developer and/or co-author. You and your team members are responsible for updating one another and me about assignment progress. In addition, you are responsible for negotiating together all aspects of your work including planning, drafting, revising, file managing, and scheduling of tasks. You will be asked to evaluate your own and your peers' participation in collaborative projects, and thus, you should maintain detailed daily notes and records about your work.

Attendance and Punctuality

Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss more than 2 classes of our summer session course may receive an E. The last date to drop our course is July 14. Keep in mind that since you will working collaboratively with peer and community partners, you also will be required to attend any scheduled out-of-class meetings with your professional contact to complete course assignments. Being late to class is disruptive. If you are late to class on a regular basis (15 minutes or more), I will count those 15-minute increments toward your class attendance, and you may risk failing the course because of late arrivals.

All holidays or special events observed by organized religions will be honored for those students how show affiliation with that particular religion. Dean's excuses will be honored for approved events.

Late and incomplete work

If you must miss a scheduled class meeting, you are not excused from the work due at or accomplished during that class session. You should make arrangements to turn in your work in advance of your absence. If you fail to make advanced preparation, the assignment will receive a grade of E.

All assignments, unless otherwise specified, are due at the beginning of class. If you come to class without your project printed or emailed to me, you will be docked 10 points.

If a serious and unavoidable problem arises, however, you should contact me as soon as possible to determine whether or not an extension for the work will be granted. An extension of a deadline is a privilege not a right, and therefore, is based upon my judgment of what is reasonable and fair.

A grade of an "I" for incomplete will only be assigned in extreme cases and where a majority of the work for the course has already been completed. 

Academic Integrity

Projects in this course focus on your own experiences as a professional and your collaborations with peers. Taking credit for the work of others or cheating in any form will not be tolerated.

All UA students are responsible for upholding the Code of Academic Integrity, available through the office of the Dean of Students and online at http://dos.web.arizona.edu/uapolicies/cai1.html

Because a variety of research methods will be used in our course and your crediting of those sources is vital, we will discuss the preferred citation method used to produce most professional writing documents, which is APA. If you have any questions about citing sources, collaborating with your peers, or working with clients in the community, please feel free to contact me.

Please note that submitting an item of academic work that has previously been submitted without fair citation of the original work or authorization by the faculty member supervising the work is prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct.

Class Conduct

All UA students are responsible for upholding the Student Code of Conduct of which the classroom applicable information can be read online at http://web.arizona.edu/~policy/disrupt.shtml.

Disabilities Accommodations

Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to fully participate in course activities or meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center. If you qualify for services through DRC, give your letter of accommodation to me as soon as possible. See http://drc.arizona.edu/drc/process.shtml for details.

Course Content

If any of the course materials, subject matter, or requirements in this course contain materials that are offensive to you, speak to me. Usually the resolution will be to drop the course promptly.

Grading: project values

Memo of introduction: 10%

Quick Reference Card (QRC): 20%

Redesign Project (RP): 40%

Formal Report (FR):  30%