Technical Writing

Course Details

Course Number: 3203  Section Number: X10

Fall 2011

Location: Bea Wood Hall

Classroom Number: 117

Days & Times:

M 5:30-7:00 Meet online in Synchronous WebCT chat. .

Course Attachments


MSU Faculty Member
Susan Henson   
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Course Objectives

Course Description

The purposes and practice of expository writing in the professions, with particular emphasis on writing related to each student’s major. Topics include audience analysis, communication ethics, collaboration, information design, technical editing, and major kinds of documents (letters, memos, instructions, proposals, and reports).

Course Goals and Objectives

Technical communication is the process of creating, designing, and transmitting technical information so that people can understand it easily and use it effectively and efficiently. This course will enable students to produce professional documents that are written clearly, concisely, and correctly.


Students will practice and demonstrate

  • skill in correct usage and clear and concise sentences through exercises, quizzes, and assignments
  • critical thinking and collaborative project management
  • research and presentation skills on a topic of your choosing
  • use of communicative and collaborative technologies that are critical in today’s global electronic environment


Each skill set and corresponding assignment will be based on rhetorical principles such as audience-analysis, organization, and style, and on concepts of document design.
Click here to view English Department Goals and Objectivesaddressed in this course.

Course Expectations

Assignments and Point Values                                                                                       

A1: Claim and Adjustment Letters

A2:Ethics Case Recommendation Memo

A3: Resume and Cover Letter

A4: Research Tools/Documentation

 A5: Editing Exam

 A6: Research Proposal

 A7: Instructions

 A8: Presentations

Homework/Chapter quizzes

Attendance and  Discussion Posts                                   

















Grading Standards

This class will use the following grading system:

A  90-100

B  80-89

 C 70-79

D  60-69

 F  0-59

Final Exam5/9/2011  7:00 pm

Submission Format Policy
  1. Formatting in Technical Writing is a matter of design, and most of your assignments will follow specific design principles according to the type of document it is (letter, memo, report). Unless the assignment specifies otherwise, documents are to be single-spaced in size 12 font with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  2. Compose and save all assignments in Microsoft Word. Early this semester we will practice using several tools in MSWord 2007, so if you don’t have this version on your home computer, you should download a free trial version. If you do not have access to MSWord for an assignment you are submitting, you must save all documents as RTF files. See me the first week of class if you don’t know how to do this. Keep an electronic copy of all the work you turn in.
  3. Name your assignment files with the assignment number (A1 through A7) and your last name, as in this example: "A3henson." If you are submitting a revision of an assignment, it must include “rev” at the end of the file name.
  4. Submit assignments in WebCT Assignments.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Part of your grade is based on submitting assignments on time. If a problem arises preventing you from submitting an assignment on time, e-mail me before the due date explaining the problem and indicate when I should expect the assignment. Then, email me with your assignment attached following the email conventions explained below. Errors in file naming and email conventions will cost up to 5 points off in your grade. The absence of the email will cost you a half grade per day (A becomes an A-, B- minus a C+). The greatest incentive for submitting assignments on time, however, is that this class moves quickly. Late work inevitably leads to more problems down the line. Therefore, work will be accepted late only in exceptional cases. 

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Attendance on campus is required the first two Mondays of the semester. Subsequent meetings will take place via WebCT chat. Attendance includes chat meetings and asynchronous Discussion posts. This course is designed to be a bridge between the academic and professional worlds; therefore, you are expected to cultivate a professional presence in the class and online. Please be on time, be prepared with the day’s readings and assignments, and be ready to actively engage the instructor and your classmates in class discussions and in the discussion forum. Three assignments in this course will include collaboration: A2, A4, and A6. Leaders in business, industry, and government understand the importance of collaboration and expect university graduates to have the skills and experience collaborating with people from various backgrounds, disciplines, and cultures. 


Other Policies

Communication and Email Guidelines

  • Please communicate with me via this email address: hensonmsu@gmail.comusing your MSU email account. In addition to being a “professional” address and offering protection from spam and viruses, an advantage of the MSU email is the ability to recognize the sender. I will not open any emails if I do not recognize the recipient.
  • Read the section on email netiquette in Ch. 14 (p. 354)
  • Observe these guidelines:
    • Include in the subject line the class/section you are in (Engl 3203-X20) and a descriptive phrase such as "introducing myself" or "memo revision."
    • Include a salutation. Although it is not necessary to write ‘Dear,’ in emails, do use appropriate formality when addressing someone, such as "Mrs. Henson" or "Professor Henson."
    • State the purpose of your email early in the body of the message and whether you have attached a document.
    • Include a closing and “sign” (type) your email with your name. Don't just stop after finishing your message.
    • Use standard American English, including correct spelling. Avoid chat room style expressions such as CUL8er, unnecessary acronyms, or fragmented speech. Even though e-mails are somewhat informal, they should be correct.
    • Unless you are responding to a specific communication from me, always use "Compose Mail" instead of replying to a random email I sent. This is important because gmail creates threaded messages, and it is easy to lose a student's email which is buried in an older thread.

Writing Proficiency

In this class, you will practice editing documents according to Standard English and Plain Language guidelines. Because this is an upper level course, you should have mastered English grammar by this point in your academic career. Early in the semester, you will have an opportunity to brush up on your writing and grammar skills; however, after that, we move on to more challenging elements of style. Therefore, if you have difficulty with particular aspects of English usage, please consult Part C of the appendix of the textbook, Technical Communication, and take advantage of the online grammar and writing resources linked in this wiki. Two particularly useful web sites for writing and grammar exercises are the Guide to Grammar & Writing and Exercise Central. A few hours of dedicated study will often clear up grammar problems in your writing

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.