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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Kerrie L Kephart
HCDE 231
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Technical Writing

Reviews the fundamentals of writing, designing, and conveying technical information to various audiences. Using a process-centered approach, explores technical communication conventions such as organization, style, tone, illustration, and layout focusing on audience, purpose, and use to design and construct a variety of documents for academic and professional settings. Required of all engineering majors. Prerequisite: either C LIT 240, both ENGL 109 and ENGL 110, ENGL 111, ENGL 121, ENGL 131, ENGL 182, ENGL 197, ENGL 198, ENGL 199, or ENGL 281. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

This course introduces engineering undergraduates to the fundamental technical communication processes associated with writing, speaking, and teamwork. Specifically, you will learn: (1) about the interplay between audience, context, and purpose as you navigate the writing process to produce a variety of technical documents, (2) how to prepare and deliver formal and informal oral presentations, and (3) how to maximize the team process to conduct research and collaboratively produce a research report.

Engineers must attend to the ethical ramifications of both their engineering work and their professional communication. As a result, ethics will be a primary focus of this course and will be a specific component in several assignments.

Student learning goals

Analyze a rhetorical situation and identify appropriate strategies based on a document’s or presentation’s purpose, audience, and context.

Recognize the basic features of technical writing genres and write within genre conventions.

Integrate text and visuals to clearly convey complex, technical information.

Revise documents for content, organization, and writing style.

Perform professional formal and informal presentation skills.

Demonstrate library research skills and appropriate source citation.

General method of instruction

Each class period will consist of lecture/discussion and activities designed to help you improve your technical communication skills. You will practice your communication skills through completion of the writing and speaking assignments. You will also be responsible for providing constructive feedback to your peers.

Recommended preparation

Required of all engineering majors. Prerequisite: either C LIT 240, both ENGL 109 and ENGL 110, ENGL 111, ENGL 121, ENGL 131, ENGL 182, ENGL 197, ENGL 198, ENGL 199, or ENGL 281.

Class assignments and grading

You will complete the following major assignments in this class: 1) Contemporary Issue Memo 2) Sustainability Poster 3) Ethics Presentation 4) Team Research Report 5) Journal

In addition, you will complete the following minor assignments: 1) Elevator Speech 2) Journal 3) In-Class Activities

Each assignment is graded on a 4.0-scale and is weighted relative to the other assignments as a percentage of your course grade. The following guidelines apply to grades students receive on assignments. The descriptions for each grade range, along with the instructor’s marginal notes and summary statements, offer a clear rationale for grades and provide valuable feedback students can use in completing future assignments.

3.8 – 4.0: Excellent – Rationale: If you submitted this document to a supervisor at work, it would make a very strong positive impression and would be considered ready to go out the door to a client with no changes or very minor changes. A 4.0 is truly exceptional work.

3.5 – 3.7: Good – Rationale: If you submitted this document to a supervisor at work, it would be considered a good job and ready to go out the door after some improvements.

3.0 – 3.4: Adequate – Rationale: If you submitted this document to a supervisor at work, it would be returned to you for revision. It would be considered a good start that needs further development and/or significant improvement before going out the door.

2.0 – 2.9: Needs Work – Rationale: If you submitted this document to a supervisor at work, it would be considered a draft that includes some material that could be used in revision but that has significant problems that need attention before it is ready to go out the door.

<2.0: Does not fulfill the assignment – Rationale: If you submitted this document to a supervisor at work, it would be considered to not meet the specifications of the assigned task. There would be little material that could be salvaged for revision, and you would likely be asked to re-do the work.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Kerrie L Kephart
Date: 03/29/2013