English 506

ENGL 506

Catalog Entry

English 506. Advanced Technical Writing
Three hours lecture (3).

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. Approved for Graduate Credit: appropriate requirements for students taking this course for graduate credit will be established by the instructor.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

I. An examination of the sociological and philosophical perspectives of technical communication.
II. Defining the purpose and describing the readers of technical communication: the relation of writer, reader, and text.
III. Determining the problems in collaborative (team) writing: social and psychological pitfalls.
IV. Mastering technical material in and outside the writer's usual expertise.
V. Applying technical writing principles to proposal writing, technical manual writing, and writing about technical subjects for a non-technical audience.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

I. Students use a variety of texts, including instructor compiled selection of articles on course subject matter; also published texts on proposal writing and creating technical manuals.
II. Class procedure includes lecture/discussion; student analysis of assigned reading; assigned student workshop activities; oral presentations by individual students. For example, a student team may be assigned to investigate difficulties of calculating the budget segment of grant proposals. That team introduces information and involves the class in analysis and discussion of problems.
III. Writing Requirements

1. Students work on specific projects, individually and\or as teams, and produce communications that fulfill the purpose of those projects. For example, a project might involve writing options for a poster on oil well drilling. The audience might be school children, 10-12. Student tasks would include 1) analyzing the audience; 2) absorbing enough about these oil well operations from various resources to caption photos and write an introductory copy block for this age group.
2. Students work in small teams on writing assignments, solving common workplace problems that beset collaborative writing.
3. Students submit rough drafts for team analysis, revise and refine these drafts and prior to submission of final drafts.
4. In the proposal and technical manual segments of the course, students submit rough drafts for team analysis, and final drafts. They complete two assignments for each project: a draft version and a final version. The draft version may involve solving a textbook case problem or rewriting an existing document; the final version deals with documents created to solve problems at the University or in a workplace where students have recently been employed.

IV. Speakers

Speakers may be invited from inside the University and from the workplace discuss technical writing situations and strategies.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students learn to create effective proposals and technical manuals and to write about technical subjects for a non-technical audience. In this context they learn writing skills appropriate to all forms of business and technical communications, namely how to produce writing that is:

  • directed to a specific audience
  • built around a specific purpose
  • clear
  • persuasive

Other goals include experience in:

  • presenting information orally
  • working with others to produce a piece of writing
  • producing writing quickly, under the pressure of hard deadlines
  • formatting presentations so that they are easy and inviting to read
  • enhancing writing with graphics
  • analyzing the content, organization, style, and rhetorical strategies of business, technical, and scientific documents


Assessment Measures

Student progress in achieving course goals and objectives may be measured in a variety of ways, including assessment of long and short formal writing assignments (produced both individually and in collaborative teams), informal writing assignments, formal and informal oral presentations, and examinations.


Other Course Information




March 1999