English 406

ENGL 406
Advanced Technical Writing

Catalog Entry

ENGL 406. Advanced Technical Writing
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: CORE 101 and CORE 102, junior or senior standing and ENGL 306.

Teaches students to master the advanced technical writing skills required to write professional reports, proposals, manuals and other communications studied in the course. Individual and team-written projects assigned.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course builds on the content of ENGL 306 (“Professional Writing”) with additional instruction and assignments in writing for non-academic audiences. Students prepare different types of assignments designed for different audiences. Students write a formal analysis of an article on a scientific or technical subject, analyzing rhetorical devices such as its opening and closing, its strategies in presenting scientific/technical material, its pace, and its use of graphics. In addition, students write software documentation to meet an actual need for user instructions. Students also write at least one article on science and/or technology designed for publication in a specific journal.

Students use a variety of texts, including a textbook on scientific and technical writing, newspaper and magazine articles, government documents, and corporate publications. Students analyze print and online documents involving science and/or technology, and read in the textbook, to prepare to discuss effective strategies for presenting technical information to the general public, such as how to write openings that encourage readers to read on and how to explain scientific and technical material to lay readers. The students may also research a newspaper's circulation, distribution, and coverage of science and technology, and share the information with the class. Or students may evaluate a complex website such as NASA’s that presents information to different kinds of audiences; this evaluation is shared with the class.

Peer review of the drafts of the writing assignments helps students develop their ability to offer substantive recommendations for revision of a document in a manner that is positive and supportive.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture, instructor-led discussion, peer review of the drafts of the writing assignments, and student-led discussion of technical articles and other documents.


Goals and Objectives of Course

Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

    • Develop effective discussions of scientific and technical subjects designed for different audiences and a variety of formats.
    • Offer substantial constructive feedback on drafts of such documents.
    • Present orally a critique of a document involving science or technology.
    • Use visual design principles and graphics to enhance communication in documents designed for different audiences.


Assessment Measures

The user documentation, newspaper articles, article analysis, and the student-led discussion are graded to determine the student’s progress and his or her final grade for the course.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009