Course Syllabus and Rubric
303-STANDARD-Syllabus2017-18 (PDF, 948 KB). Contains full course description, required materials, discussion of course policies, an overview of class assignments, and grading standards. Updated: 28 November 2017.
Engl 303 Rubric (PDF, 264 KB). The course rubric is based largely on Markel’s Eight Measures of Excellence (clear, comprehensive, accessible, concise, professional in appearance, correct, accurate, and honest) as well as Auburn University’s Chemical Engineering Department’s Technical Report Rubric. Updated: 9 March 2016.
Course Description, Objectives, and Theme
(Excerpts—see Course Syllabus above for full information.)
Welcome to English 303: Development of technical writing skills and styles. This course requires a different set of criteria from that used in composition courses, both in teaching and in evaluating students’ work. This course emphasizes writing focused on scientific and technical topics, and that is geared toward a targeted audience by the appropriate choice of format and writing style.
“Effective technical communication is honest, clear, accurate, comprehensive, accessible, concise, professional in appearance, and correct.” – Mike Markel
Technical writing is used in many technical and professional fields. Its goal is to accurately and concisely convey direction, explanation, or instruction to specific audiences of varying levels of technical knowledge so that each audience member clearly understands the information they need.
Since the world is increasingly dependent upon technology, good technical writing is increasingly important. Many companies do not hire technical writers, and so the need for graduates to write technical material is critical. This course is designed to acquaint you with the understanding and tools needed for creating and designing quality communication for the professional environment as well as practicing technological skills that will support document design. After the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
- Communicate effectively using Markel’s Eight Measures of Excellence: honesty, clarity, accuracy, comprehensiveness, accessibility, conciseness, professional appearance, and correctness.
- Evaluate the communication situation: audience, purpose, and context.
- Create effective professional memos, proposals, technical definitions, and reports.
- Integrate effectively visual items in technical documents, including charts, graphs, tables, drawings, photographs, and schematics.
- Understand how to analyze, incorporate, and properly attribute data from research.
- Use a cover letter, résumé, and LinkedIn profile in an effective job search.
- Continue your journey of developing life-long learning and self-editing skills.
- Approach all work in the course, individual or collaborative, in an ethical, mature, and professional manner.
You will have a fictitious college intern position for the fictitious Ubiquitous Corporation. Living up to its motto, “Our Business is Humanity,” Ubiquitous, a benefit corporation, is involved in a wide range of fields, including all majors offered at LA Tech. You will follow the Ubiquitous Style Guide and Merchant’s Guide to English Usage for Technical Writers (available on this course WordPress site) to write and format your documents.
Expectation of Outside-of-Class Work
This is a demanding and challenging class. Writing is an involved process for any writer. At this point we expect you to be at Hard-Mode difficulty level (to use a video game analogy). You should be able to figure out some things for yourself given the right information and tools. This is not a paint-by-numbers course: you are expected to critically think and to synthesize and not just mimic.
“Easy reading is damned hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
While the quality of your ideas is important, this class also demands a high quality for how those ideas are communicated. To do well, you must devote enough time to complete assignments accurately and effectively; you will not be able to throw a paper together at the last minute, handing it in with freshman-level errors, and expect to pass. Group members who do not contribute in a fair fashion to group projects will earn a failing grade even if projects receive a passing grade. If you are not able or willing to devote the necessary time and effort, I urge you to drop this class until you can.
 A benefit corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that expand their obligations to consider their impact on society, workers, the community and the environment. See benefitcorp.net for more information.