ENGL 3253.01

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ENGL 3253.01: Technical Writing & Communication
Technical communication is the study and practice of how best to convey information to multiple audiences with different goals and needs. In this class, we will engage in multiple, diverse forms of technical communication: from a basic resume to complex instructions. Most types of professional writing incorporate the basic elements of technical communication—writing with clarity for a specific audience—so you will learn valuable skills in this course that will enhance your present and future communications.
Course & Instructor Information
Dr. Julie Platt 110 Wells Hall [email protected] 870-460-1489 Office Hours: M&W 10am-3pm and by appointment
Fall 2015 3 Credit Hours Tuesday & Thursday 11:10am - 12:30pm MCB 315
Required Texts & Materials
Anderson, Paul V. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach. Cengage, 2013. 8th Edition. ISBN 113330981X. Alred, Gerald J. et. al. Handbook of Technical Writing. Bedford St. Martins, 10th Edition. ISBN 0312679459. A flash drive of at least 4GB and a three-ring binder. Additional materials made available in class or via Blackboard.
Click on “online bookstore” for textbook information:  
Recognize the rhetorical features of various genres of technical information, especially contexts, purposes, and audiences.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
Communicate in a number of modes using effective and appropriate language which is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
Demonstrate the basic principles of visual rhetoric and effective document design with a variety of technical and professional documents.
Research, analyze, design, and present complex technical information and convey it to an audience of experts and non-experts.
Students must have successfully completed ENGL 1013 (Comp I) and ENGL 1023 (Comp II) to enroll in ENGL 3253. Students must complete and submit ALL MAJOR PROJECTS to be eligible to pass ENGL 3253.
ENGL 3253.01: Technical Writing and Communication Fall 2015 @ UAM - J. Platt
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Technology in ENGL 3253
In addition to providing you with printed course materials, I will be putting all essential course materials (syllabus, schedule, assignment sheets, daily PowerPoint lessons, etc.) on Blackboard so that you may access them as needed outside of class time. If you are not familiar with Blackboard (e.g. how to submit an assignment, how to use the discussion board, etc.), then you are responsible for contacting Academic Computing for support (see below).
You must have access to a computer with updated word processing software, preferably Microsoft Word. If you cannot purchase Microsoft Word, use Google Drive or download the OpenOffice suite of programs (, both of which can be saved as Microsoft Word-compatible files. If you have a laptop computer, you may bring it to class.
You must have access to your UAM email address and check it daily, as this will be the primary way we will keep in touch outside of class. My guidelines for sending and receiving email, as well as when I can be reached and how soon I will reply, are detailed in a later section of this syllabus.
While technology makes life easier, it can also be frustrating (computer crashes, deleted work, unavailable Internet connections, Blackboard being down, etc.). Plan accordingly. I accept work electronically or in print, so excuses such as "Blackboard was down" or "my computer died" are not acceptable for late or incomplete assignments. ONLY YOU CAN BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR COMPUTER AND YOUR INTERNET ACCESS. Find a buddy you can rely on to catch you up if you miss class, and leave extra time, especially in the first few weeks, to ensure that technology does not get in the way of your coursework.
Academic Computing: 870-460-1663 M-F, 8:00am – 4:30pm
The computer section of the Taylor Library is open during regular library hours. Visit for updated information.
Need Blackboard Help?
Need Email Help?
Help Desk: 870-460-1663 [email protected]
Information Technology: 870-460-1036 M-F, 8:00am – 4:30pm
Contacting Your Prof
Email Contact
F2F Contact
How to Make Profs Love You: Email Etiquette
Write a descriptive subject line in which you mention our class number and section, and what your message is regarding. Address your recipient respectfully. We have a working relationship, not a social one, so starting your email with "Dear Dr. Platt” is your best bet. Be clear and specific about what you’re asking. Do not send me an email that says something like “I don’t understand the assignment.” I completely sympathize and want to help, but “the assignment” is too general, as is “don’t understand." Remember that I teach many students in a number of different classes. Be concise, but don’t be too brief or too casual. Remember that emails are not text messages. Don’t shorten words, use complete sentences, and go easy on the exclamation points and emojis. Sign your emails. UAM student email addresses are strings of letters and numbers, so you must tell me who you are. "Sincerely, [Firstname Lastname]" is appropriate and appreciated.
I answer email M - F, 8am to 4pm. Expect a reply within 48 hours. Use UAM email only!
My office hours are M&W 10am-3pm. Email for an appointment outside those times.
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Attendance Policy
All college writing courses, no matter what school you take them at, are interactive and require high levels of participation and collaboration (that goes for 3000-level classes just as much as 1000-level classes). We will be completing daily activities that cannot be made up, and you will find that, in a fast-paced writing course, missing even a single class meeting will leave you behind. ENGL 3253 is unique in that you will produce projects tailored for audiences of for real-world, on-campus clients. You should never miss class. You should also never disrupt class by being late, and you should not leave early. I will be keeping track of your attendance every single day.
That said, you are allowed two unexcused absences (the equivalent of one week of class) before your grade begins dropping. Every unexcused absence beyond this limit will result in your final grade being lowered by 25 points per class missed. However, if you complete the course with only one unexcused absence, I will add 25 bonus points to your final grade. If you complete the course with perfect attendance (zero unexcused absences), I will add 50 bonus points to your final grade. Please remember, too, that two tardies or late exits equal one unexcused absence.
An absence, excused or unexcused, does not mean you are excused from completing any work due on the day you miss. In other words, even if you miss class, the work due for that class needs to be in my hands before class time ends. If you need to miss class for a university-sponsored activity, you must provide me with documentation before the absence occurs. Should you suffer catastrophic injury or an extended illness, we can work together to determine a way for you to successfully complete all graded assignments within a reasonable timeframe. You will need to provide evidence that you should be excused (e.g. a doctor’s note).
In all cases, if by the end of the semester your work does not demonstrate that you have met the Student Learning Outcomes, you will be unable to earn a passing grade in ENGL 3253.
Come to class!
Absences hurt!
Late Work Policy
All assignments will be docked 10% of their total point value for each day they are late.
5 days
No Exceptions!
After any kind of assignment is five days late, it will be recorded as a zero.
There will be no exceptions to this policy unless arrangements are made BEFORE THE DUE DATE.
I want to receive and grade your work at the same time as everyone else’s work. How long it takes me to grade an assignment is unpredictable—it could be the next day or it could be up to two weeks. I aim to return all work before the next assignment is due, with a week being the norm for a major project. This means that the safest and best practice is to turn in all work on time. Also, if you become a “missing person,” i.e., someone who stops attending class or misses the majority of the class sessions for an assignment, I will not be willing or able to grade your work at the same time as everyone else, so you will not receive the benefit of timely feedback. Before taking that step, I will attempt to contact you via email, prompting you to contact me and discuss the situation face-to-face.
Returning Work & Missing Persons
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Student Support
The Academic Alert System is a retention program that puts students in contact with the appropriate campus resources to assist them in meeting their educational goals at UAM.  If you are doing poorly in your academic work, are chronically absent from class, are exhibiting disruptive behavior or are having difficulty adjusting to campus life, University faculty, staff or a fellow student may report you to the Office of Academic Affairs through the Academic Alert system.
The Center for Writing and Communication (CWC) is a free service to University of Arkansas at Monticello students. The CWC is staffed by UAM undergraduates who have received special training in peer writing tutoring. The CWC can assist writers of any level or major, on assignments from all disciplines and genres, and at all stages of the writing process. Consultants can work with writers face to face or online, and a typical session with a consultant lasts thirty to sixty minutes. To have the best session possible, students seeking help should bring all materials, including the course syllabus, assignment sheets, and any drafts previously completed. The CWC also has a suite of laptops and computers for students working on writing projects and a resource library of up-to-date citation guides, grammar handbooks, and guides for writing in many disciplines and majors. The CWC is located in MCB 113, (870) 460-1378.
Academic Alert
Writing Help
Students With Disabilities
It is the policy of the University of Arkansas at Monticello to accommodate individuals with disabilities It is the policy of the University of Arkansas at Monticello to accommodate individuals with disabilities pursuant to federal law and the University’s commitment to equal educational opportunities. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any necessary accommodations at the beginning of the course.  Any student requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Special Student Services located in Harris Hall Room 120; phone (870) 460-1026; TDD (870) 460-1626; Fax (870) 460-1926; email: [email protected]
Students at the University of Arkansas at Monticello are expected to conduct themselves appropriately, keeping in mind that they are subject to the laws of the community and standards of society. The student must not conduct him/herself in a manner that disrupts the academic community or breaches the freedom of other students to progress academically. During class time your attention should be focused on communicating with your classmates and your instructor. I cannot force you to pay attention to me (that is your choice), but I do expect you to be quiet and considerate while other classmates are speaking, and to not distract them or interfere with their learning. This applies to phones, texting, iPods, Facebook, earbuds, vaping, et cetera. If I determine you are doing something – anything –which is distracting, I will ask you to stop, and reserve the right to ask you to leave if the distracting behavior continues. I expect students of technical writing to be professional and career-oriented. I recommend that you do not do anything that you wouldn't want me to tell a potential employer in, say, a letter of recommendation.
Student Conduct
Submitting Your Work
You will be submitting final drafts of your major projects, and almost all of your other assignments, electronically via Blackboard. Because of this, it is very important that you pay attention to file names and file formats. You are responsible for making sure that I can open and read your work. If you send me a file I cannot open, I will alert you, but I will not grade it and it will not be considered submitted on time. One of the most important skills you need in "the real world" is the ability to follow directions. To practice this, I will give detailed instructions for submission of each major project and assignment. and I expect you to follow those instructions to the letter. If you do not submit your work properly, I will drop your grade by 10%.
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Academic (Dis)honesty
Plagiarism is defined as adopting and reproducing as one’s own, to appropriate to one’s use, and to incorporate in one’s own work without acknowledgement the ideas or passages from the writings or works of others. Plagiarism deals with intellectual property, which has become an increasingly complex concept as it becomes easier to cut, copy, and paste material from anywhere to everywhere.
For any instance of academic dishonesty that is discovered by the instructor, whether the dishonesty is found to be cheating, collusion, duplicity, or plagiarism, the result for the student(s) involved will be a zero on the assignment in question. Depending on the egregiousness of the violation, the instructor may reserve the right to fail the student for the course and report the incident. We will be having discussions and activities early in the semester exploring plagiarism and intellectual property, and how to negotiate these issues as technical writers. If at any time you have doubts about whether or not you are using your own or another’s writing ethically, just ask. Don’t risk making a huge mistake.
4 Kinds of Academic Dishonesty at UAM
Students shall not give, receive, offer, or solicit information on examinations, quizzes, etc. This includes but is not limited to the following classes of dishonesty: Copying from another student’s paper, use during the examination of prepared materials, notes, or texts other than those specifically permitted by the instructor; collaboration with another student during the examination; buying, selling, stealing, soliciting, or transmitting an examination or any material purported to be the unreleased contents of coming examinations or the use of any such material; and substituting for another person during an examination or allowing such substitutions for oneself.
Collusion is defined as obtaining from another party, without specific approval in advance by the instructor, assistance in the production of work offered for credit to the extent that the work reflects the ideas of the party consulted rather than those of the person whose name in on the work submitted. In other words, this means having someone else come up with ideas and writing for you, or give you so much "help" on your paper that it's no longer reasonable to call it your own work.
Duplicity is defined as offering for credit identical or substantially unchanged work in two or more courses, without specific advanced approval of the instructors involved. In other words, duplicity means to "double-dip"--to hand in the exact same paper twice, whether that be submitting a paper to two different instructors, or submitting an old paper from high school to a college prof without revising it significantly.
Grades in ENGL 3253
Grading Scale at UAM
A= 90 — 100 (1790 - 2000 pts) B= 80 — 89 (1590 - 1789 pts) C= 70 — 79 (1390 - 1589 pts) D= 60 — 69 (1190 - 1389 pts) F= 59 and below (1189 pts and below)
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Assignments in ENGL 3253
Major Projects
Each week you will complete at least one short writing-based response. There will be sixteen of these (one for each week of the semester). Each is worth 25 points, for a total of 400 points. I generally assign these at the end of class on Thursday, to be completed by the start of class time on the following Tuesday, but the dates may change (with plenty of notice from me). You will need to write 400 words per response to be eligible for full credit. As I generally tailor these assignments to the issues and needs of individual classes, the subject and format of these will vary. They may be reading responses, they may be reflections on issues we discussed in class, or they may be some other kind of activity. However, they are all important—the way to become a stronger writer is to practice writing.
Technical Instructions
325 points
Weekly Responses
In order to create accurate and useful written documents for your clients, you will need have more than a passing familiarity with them. You will need to deeply understand who they are—their values, their structure, their processes and procedures, their day-to-day activities. Therefore, you are required to initiate and conduct a face-to-face interview with a representative from your client’s organization, and create an informative memo from that information. The memo is worth 75 points and will be due before the first major project.
Client Profile Memo
You are required to conference with me two times this semester. One conference will cover choosing an appropriate topic for your research report; the other will cover choosing an appropriate topic for your proposal and presentation. Expect to meet with me for at least 15 minutes per conference. Conferences will take place in my office, 110 Wells Hall, and I will send around a sign-up sheet in class. Each conference is worth 50 points.
Required Conferences
Researched Report
400 points
Proposal & Presentation
350 points
Professional Documents
350 points
For each major project, I will distribute a detailed assignment sheet with due dates, grading criteria, and instructions for submission. A week before the project is due, we will have a peer review workshop, and you are welcome to share drafts with me in conference. You also have the opportunity to revise ONE (1) project this semester for a chance of receiving a higher grade.
Other Assignments
Looking at writing from the perspective of a technical communicator is probably unlike anything you've done before--at least in school. Things may seem very confusing or strange; this is not unexpected when we encounter something unfamiliar. Give yourself time to develop this new perspective and things will become clearer. That being said, writing in general is challenging for everyone—even for professionals whose job it is to write all the time (like me). It will never not be challenging, but if you practice, you will get better at it. Your willingness to take these challenges seriously is the most crucial factor in your success in this class. I will be here for you every step of the way. Good luck.
A Final Word
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