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Course Policies

Instructor: Quinn Warnick, Ph.D.
Course Location: 126 Moody Hall
Class Hours: T/Th 9:30–10:45
Dr. Warnick’s Office: 211 Premont Hall
Office Hours: T/Th 1:30–3:30, F 9:00–11:00, or by appointment
Office Phone: 485-4622 (Leave a detailed message if I don’t pick up.)
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required (This is the best way to reach me.)

ENGW 3335 Overview

Technical and Business Writing will help you understand the theory, principles, and processes of effective communication in the workplace. Communication practices are changing rapidly to keep up with technological advancements; hence, this course will focus not just on written communication, but will also cover oral, visual, and electronic communication. In today’s workplace, your success will depend on more than being able to write well; you will also be expected to deliver persuasive oral presentations, create visually appealing documents, and navigate unfamiliar software programs.

During the next sixteen weeks, you will work individually and with your classmates to address and solve several communication problems typically encountered by professional communicators. Some of these assignments will require you to respond to specific scenarios, while others will allow you to tailor your work to your own employment situation (either present or future). Whatever the case, you should carry out your work in a professional manner, as you would in a place of business. By the end of the term, you should have developed the communication skills to excel at creating and delivering successful documents in your chosen field of employment.

Required Textbooks and Materials

  • The Essentials of Technical Communication, by Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga.
  • A USB drive for storing electronic files.
  • A Google (or Gmail) account for submitting work through Google Docs.
  • A Delicious.com account for bookmarking course-related websites.
  • Approximately 100 sheets of paper for printing course readings and your assignments.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • apply rhetorical principles to technical and business communication.
  • understand the influences of organizational settings in the composition of technical and business documents.
  • recognize the conventions of several common workplace genres.
  • distinguish between effective and ineffective technical documents.
  • understand the ways in which ethical issues influence professional communication.
  • comprehend the role of visual rhetoric in persuasive communication.
  • employ thinking and composing strategies that produce successful professional documents.
  • implement principles of effective document design in preparing professional documents.
  • participate in the collaborative planning and executing of a project.
  • adapt persuasive techniques to both written documents and oral presentations.
  • use various software programs to enhance your written and electronic documents.

Class Attendance and Participation

You will complete much of your work for this course in small groups, and you are expected to fulfill your fair share of group work and to interact courteously with your peers at all times. Most of our class sessions will be conducted in discussion/workshop format, so regular attendance and active participation are important. My attendance policy is simple: you may miss three classes (for any reason) without penalty. Each additional absence (for any reason) will lower your course grade by 5%, and six or more absences may result in a failing grade for the course. Because our time in class is limited, promptness is important. Each tardy (arriving more than 5 minutes late) and each instance of leaving early will count as 1/3 of an absence. If you are late for class, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have not been marked absent.

Software and Technology

One aim of this course is to increase your electronic literacy. Hence, many of your assignments will be submitted electronically, either through the course website or using Google Docs. In addition, the major assignments will require you to use, at minimum, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. If you are not comfortable with these programs, you may need to spend additional time outside of class reviewing online tutorials or seeking help from the Instructional Technology office on campus. Our course will meet regularly in a computer lab, which will provide opportunities to learn from and share with your peers. However, you will not be able to complete all computer work in class, so you will either need your own computer or arrange to use one of the on-campus computer labs.

As you complete assignments for this class, be sure to save all your work, both print and electronic. Do not discard any drafts, notes, papers or research materials until you receive a final grade for the course. In addition, be sure to save your work regularly in multiple formats (print and electronic) and multiple locations (computer, flash drive, Google Docs, EdShare). Computer problems are a part of modern life, and a crashed computer or a lost flash drive is not a valid excuse for a late paper.

Grading and Evaluation

Four major projects will constitute the bulk of your grade for this course. In addition, a midterm exam, several smaller assignments, and regular participation in class discussions will influence your final grade. Major assignments will be penalized one letter grade (e.g., from B to C) for every class period they are late. You must complete all major assignments to receive a passing grade at the end of the semester. Shorter assignments will normally be worth 10 points, and all short assignments will be averaged together. Because these short assignments relate directly to the topic of discussion each day, they will receive no credit if they are turned in late.

Weighted Assignments

Major units and shorter assignments will be weighted as follows:

  • Unit 1 (Business Correspondence): 20%
  • Unit 2 (Technical Instructions): 20%
  • Unit 3 (Recommendation Report [group project]): 20%
  • Unit 4 (Persuasive Oral Presentation [group project]): 20%
  • Short Assignments and Class Participation: 20%
  • TOTAL: 100 %

Grading Scale

All major assignments will be evaluated on a 100-point scale, and final grades will be calculated using the following scale:

  • A: 90–100
  • B: 80–89.99
  • C: 70–79.99
  • D: 60–69.99
  • F: 0–59.99

Please note that St. Edward’s does not use a +/- grading scale and I do not round up when calculating final grades.

Grading Criteria

All major assignments will be evaluated using the following criteria:

A—Superior Accomplishment. Shows excellent analysis of the assignment and provides an imaginative and original response. Successfully adapts to the audience, context, and purpose of the assignment. Contains no mechanical errors and requires no revisions. The assignment is ready to be presented to the intended audience.

B—Commendable. Shows judgment and tact in the presentation of material and responds appropriately to the requirements of the assignment. Has an interesting, precise, and clear style. Contains minor mechanical errors and requires revision before the assignment could be sent to the intended audience.

C—Competent. Meets all the basic criteria of the assignment, and provides a satisfactory response to the rhetorical situation. There is nothing remarkably good or bad about the work, and equivalent work could be sent out in the professional world following revisions to the organization, style, or delivery of the assignment.

D—Needs Improvement. Responds to the assignment, but contains significant defects in one of the major areas (context, substance, organization, style, or delivery). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience without significant revision.

F—Unacceptable. Provides an inadequate response to the assignment or shows a misunderstanding of the rhetorical situation. Contains glaring defects in one or more of the major areas (context, substance, organization, style, or delivery). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience.

Eliminating Distractions

During recent semesters, I have noticed that my students are becoming increasingly distracted during class. Not surprisingly, most of these distractions are technological in nature: cell phones, iPods, nonacademic websites, etc. As a result, I have developed a simple technology policy: Cell phones (including texting), MP3 players, and other handheld devices should never be used during class. If you bring a laptop to class, please use it only for class-related purposes. IMing, checking email, web surfing, etc., are incredibly disrespectful of our time together. I suspect that many of you, like me, suffer from Technology Distraction Disorder,TM so it may be best to avoid any potential problems by leaving your technological devices in your bags or pockets during class.

Disability Accommodations

If you have a medical, psychiatric, or learning disability and require accommodations in this class, please let me know early in the semester or as soon as you are eligible. You will first need to provide documentation of your disability to the Student Disability Services Office, located in Moody Hall 155 in Academic Planning and Support Services.

Academic Integrity

The Student Handbook states the following:

St. Edward’s University expects academic honesty from all members of the community, and it is our policy that academic integrity be fostered to the highest degree possible. Consequently, all work submitted for grading in a course must be created as a result of your own thought and effort. Representing work as your own when it is not a result of such thought and effort is a violation of our code of academic integrity. Whenever it is established that academic dishonesty has occurred, the course instructor shall impose a penalty upon the offending individual(s).

In a writing course, violations of this Academic Integrity policy typically take the form of plagiarism. I do not tolerate plagiarism in any form, and I am exceptionally skilled at identifying plagiarized work. If you submit plagiarized work in this course, you will receive an automatic 0 on the assignment. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, you may also fail the entire course. In addition, I will report the incident to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer, speaker, or designer uses someone else’s language, ideas, images, or other material without fully acknowledging its source by quotations marks, in footnotes or endnotes, and in lists of works cited. In this course, we will draw heavily upon text, images, videos, and other electronic materials found online; the fact that such material is online does not lessen our obligation to give credit where credit is due. Occasionally, students will unintentionally plagiarize material because they have failed to keep track of their sources as they acquire them. You can avoid this problem by keeping detailed records of your research activities in this class.

As a professor, my academic integrity obligates me to report all cases of plagiarism (regardless of the circumstances) to the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism and how it relates to your work, please talk to me before you turn in an assignment. Once plagiarized work has been submitted for a grade, I have no choice but to enforce this policy.