Technical Writing

Course Details

Course Number: 3203  Section Number: 203, 204

Spring 2012

Location: Bea Wood Hall

Classroom Number: 117

Days & Times:

ENGL 3203-204; TR 9:30-10:50

ENGL 3203-203; TR 12:30-1:50

Course Attachments


MSU Faculty Member
Dr Gina Opdycke Terry   
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Course Objectives

• You will learn how to write effective documents commonly used in workplace and

professional communication, including general workplace documents such as emails, letters, and memos, and discipline-specific documents such as procedures and reports.
• You will learn and practice effective collaboration strategies. 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.
• You will demonstrate research and presentation skills on a topic of your choosing. 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.
• Finally, you will be using several technologies that are critical in today’s global electronic environment.

Course Expectations

Required Materials

  • William Sanborn Pfieffer and Kaye E. Adkins, Technical Communication: A Practical Approach, 7th edition.
  • An active MSU email account
  • Access to MSU Blackboard
  • Access to Google Docs


Grading Standards


Formal Homework (9-10)               20%

Job Application Packet                      10%

Proposal                                             15%

Recommendation Report                 25%

Presentation                                      15%

Discussion Questions,

Class Activities, Quizzes                    15%


Grading Scale

F: 0-59, D: 60-69, C: 70-79, B: 80-89, A: 90-100

Final Exam5/9/2012  

Submission Format Policy

Completion of Assignments and Late Papers

You must complete all assignments in the sequence outlined on this syllabus in order to receive a passing grade in this course. 

  • Papers must be typed in MS Word. 
  • Papers must be turned in during class and posted in the appropriate places (Blackboard and/or Googledocs) to receive full credit.
  • Late papers will be penalized.  In the event of a personal or professional emergency, you must contact me prior to the due date and class meeting time. 
  • Unauthorized late papers will result in a penalty of one lowered letter grade sequentially every twenty-four hours from the original due date, including weekends. 
  • In-class work, quizzes, homework, and major assignments may not be made up in cases of unexcused absences.  Papers should not be submitted outside of class (for example, left under the door).

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

Late Papers

You are required to submit assignments to me in class on due dates listed on this syllabus.  Late submission of assignments will result in a deduction of 10 points per day late.  Papers submitted outside of class (for example, left under the door or left in the wrong office) will receive a grade of zero.

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


  • Come to class; it’s that simple. You are expected to meet class according to the times published in the fall schedule of classes.
  • Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class.  To have credit for attendance, students who arrive in class after attendance is checked (first five minutes) must provide evidence (documentation) to substantiate their late arrival.  Otherwise, late arrivals will be marked as absent.
  • Participation and attendance go hand in hand, and participation includes not only speaking and contributing to classroom discussion, but also completing the reading and assignments on time.  Please come to class prepared to discuss the assignments for that day and prepared to contribute to the overall conversation of the course.
  • You are responsible for getting notes from a classmate for any class information you may have missed.
  • Quizzes, in-class writing, or other missed work may not be made up if the absence is unexcused, and homework will not be accepted late. 
  • For excused absences, students will have one week to make up the missed work.
  • If you miss more than 6 classes, you will fail the class.

Other Policies

Plagiarism Policy

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

From the Student Handbook 

“Academic Dishonesty: Cheating, collusion, and plagiarism (the act of using source material of other persons, either published or unpublished, without following the accepted techniques of crediting, or the submission for credit of work not the individual’s to whom credit is given). Additional guidelines on procedures in these matters may be found in the Dean of Students office.

a. The term “cheating” includes, but is not limited to: (1) use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; (2) dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; or (3) the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the university faculty or staff.

b. The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.

c. The term “collusion” means collaboration with another person in preparing work offered for credit of that collaboration is not authorized by the faculty member in charge.”


  • 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 quotation, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.  
  • You are responsible for understanding how to use sources in an ethical fashion, as well as understand the difference between quotation and paraphrase.  If you have questions about using and documenting sources, please consult a Writer’s Handbook or ask me. 
  • Papers that fail to attribute sources properly will receive a grade of 0 and I will follow the University’s reporting procedures.
  • You may not turn in assignments submitted for credit in other courses.

For additional Policies please see the print version of the syllabus.

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.