EN306A Prof Wrtng in the Disciplines: Scientific & Technical Writing

for F2T 2009

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EN 306 Prof Wrtng in the Disciplines: Scientific & Technical Writing


F2T 2009 DL


Stallings, Walton Dees


Assistant Professor, English and Modern Languages/Full-Time Faculty


PhD, English, University of South Carolina
MA, English, University of South Carolina
BA, English, Virginia Military Institute

Office Location


Office Hours

This course has students around the world; I am available at any time.

Daytime Phone

(410) 867-6172 (ofc)

Other Phone

(410) 991-0934 (cell)




Semester Dates

19 Oct - 13 Dec 2009

Class Days

Continual - Asynchronous Online - chat/ClassLive sessions as announced

Class Time

Continual - Asynchronous Online - chat/ClassLive sessions as announced


Pre-requisites: EN105, EN106, passing the Writing Competency Test, and 60 credit hours. 3:0:3

Credit Hours



Text: Technical Communication (Tenth Edition), Longman

Author: John Lannon
ISBN: 0-321-27076-2

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:
See course Webliography for research, documentation, and other resources!

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
Career Counseling - The Career Development Center (CDC) provides services for all stages of career development.  The mission of the CDC is to provide the career planning tools to ensure a lifetime of career success.
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FAQ's for Online Students - You might find the answer to your questions here.

Course Description:
EN306A Professional Writing in the Disciplines-Scientific and Technical Writing:This course is the third course in the required writing sequence at Park University. It emphasizes professional writing skills and expectations in various disciplines while developing further basic writing skills. Specific departmental courses may be deemed equivalent and will be used to satisfy this course. The course will have three sections. A. Scientific and Technical Writing: This course helps students do scientific and technical research and prepare reports that will address the needs of various audiences in science, government, and industry. Prerequisite: EN105, EN106, passing the Writing Competency Test and 60 credit hours. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:

My philosophy is to give you a learning environment rich in resources, and continual availability to me, and guide you though some practical learning experiences with scenarios similar to what you'll find in professional settings.  I will always be available to provide you individual assistance and guidance.  I think you'll find this approach interesting and supportive of your specific goals for learning! 

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain how technical and scientific writing communication differs from other types of writing.
  2. Analyze audiences for different communications purposes, using audience analysis checklists and techniques.
  3. Compile research findings, including bibliographies, journals, and notes.
  4. Compose information plans and outlines during the process of organizing a technical document.
  5. Draft a working version of a technical document.
  6. Revise and proof documents using a writing review checklist.
  7. Write and submit technical definitions; reports of research or testing; proposals; recommendations; mechanism descriptions and specifications; process descriptions; procedures; and instructions; and workplace correspondence, including resumes.
  8. Collaborate with others on writing tasks, at a distance, using appropriate technology.
  9. Coach subordinates and colleagues to write technical and scientific documents, applying specific standards and techniques.

Core Assessment:
This assignment, a formal report, should contain the following format features: cover/title page, letter of transmittal, table of contents, table of figures and tables,  informative abstract, body with sectional headings and subheadings, glossary, appendixes and attachments as appropriate, and bibliography. Relevant text readings are Chapters 14, 15, 16, 17,  and especially 25

Class Assessment:

Performance will be assessed based on documents/papers, discussions, and a final exam.

Summary of Assignments and their weights

1. Definitions and Profiles for Two Audiences Week 1
Week  2

2. Proposal for Analytical Report Week 2
Week 3

3. Information Plan for Analytical Report Week 3
Week 4

4. Explanation of a product or process, or an instructional document
Week 4
Week 5

5. Cover Letter and Resume Week 5
Week 6

6. Analytical Report Week 4
Week 8

7. Final Exam Week 8
Week 8

8. Online Participation/Journal Ongoing
Week 8

Late Submission of Course Materials:
Late penalties may be imposed based on individual circumstances.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

1. Paper #1: Develop two audience-and-use profiles for two audiences (one profile for a semi-technical audience and one profile for a non-technical audience) for whom you are writing a technical definition, and then write a one-page definition for each audience. (Relevant text reading: Chapter 3, Delivering the Essential Information, and Chapter 20, Technical Definitions.)

First select a technical term you wish to define. Then fill out the Audience-and-Use Profile  for one technical audience and one non-technical audience (see p. 36 for the form). Next, evaluate what information you would include for each audience. For example, you might select the term diabetes and the two audiences for whom you are writing the definitions might be pre-med students taking an endocrinology course and the patients of an endocrinologist who has prepared a short handout for his patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

For the first audience of pre-med students, you might consider defining diabetes in terms of metabolic and chemical disorder. For the non-technical audience, you might consider adding to a simple definition of diabetes as a metabolic disorder an analogy of how the system has gone awry and, most important for this audience, how having diabetes is going to affect their lives.

In analyzing the information you would include for each audience, you would consider the various ways in which to define terms and use those tools to select what would be appropriate to each audience to create an effective definition. (See Chapter 20 of your text for definition strategies.) Then, using appropriate diction and level of details, you would write your definitions.

NOTE: Be sure to document all external information using both footnotes or parenthetical citations and a bibliography (which you may label "References," "Works Cited," or otherwise, as appropriate.  Also be sure to enclose within quotation marks any text you have copied.  This is an academic honesty and copyright compliance requirement, not simply a formatting requirement.  See Part VI, Appendix A of our text and the course Webliography for documentation guidance. 
2. Paper #2: Write an Informal Proposal for your Analytical Report. Using the discussions of proposals and analytical reports, develop your informal proposal using the general model for proposals given in your Lannon text in Chapter 23, Proposals. You will need to decide whether your proposal is a planning, research, or sales type proposal (I generally recommend that you write a research proposal). This will determine some of the contents for your assignment. Other relevant text readings are Chapters 11 and 21.

3. Paper #3: Write an Information Plan for your Analytical Report. Information planning encourages writers to adopt project management strategies as a way of managing writing assignments of all complexities. For this assignment, you must write an Information Plan for your analytical report in three to five pages. In the workplace, the Information Plan would be updated as progress was made or changes occurred on the project. You may use an outline format that addresses the following information:

Purpose for writing this report:

Audience: For whom is the report intended? Who else will read it?

Goals of the information contained in your report: How will the information in this report be used?

Information objectives: What specific information will be contained in the report? What information will be given to the reader? How will readers benefit?

Information specifications: Overall structure, Title, graphics production, printing specifications.

Sectional content outline: Working section headings and subheadings and a brief summary of what will be in each.

Methodology: Determine how the information will be gathered and analyzed, the schedule for research, editorial standards and strategies, style guidelines.

Information verification: How will the information be verified? Are the procedures used considered to be accurate?

Schedule for completion of assignments related to analytical report.

This assignment requires forethought about the analytical report you will write. Remember that your Information Plan is intended to help you map out the writing process and begin to visualize the final document, and can be adjusted as you actually go through writing of the report. The integrity of an Information Plan, however,  is in its usability as a planning tool: you should have as few amendments to it as possible. The more detail that you have here, the more likely that your draft report will prove to be well designed. Relevant text readings are Chapters 3, 10, 11, 12 and 24.

4. Paper #4: Write a Description of a Product or Process, or an Instructional Document. Descriptions and explanations of mechanisms, processes, organizations, and organisims constitute much of the subject matter of technical and scientific writing.  Instructions are also critical to working with technology. In this assignment you will focus on one of these types of documents, with emphasis on clarity and usability.

5. Paper #5: Write a Cover Letter and Resume. Relevant text reading is Chapter 18.

6. Paper #6: Write an Analytical Report. This assignment, a formal report, should contain the following format features: cover/title page, letter of transmittal, table of contents, table of figures and tables, informative abstract, body with sectional headings and subheadings, glossary, appendixes and attachments as appropriate, and bibliography. Relevant text readings are Chapters 14, 15, 16, 24, 25, and Part VI, Appendix A.

Your text offers a general model for analytical reports, which you should follow where you can. Of course, you may deviate from this model with good reason -- it is only a tentative model. Your text offers many suggestions for topics for analytical reports, should you have difficulty selecting one.

CORE WEEKLY ONLINE DISCUSSION TOPICS: Others may be added as required or requested

The basic weekly online discussion topics are listed below. In general, your conference discussion topics will be evaluated using the following criteria:

Completeness of thought: have you given the question at hand in-depth thinking? Do you demonstrate an understanding of the context of the issue being addressed?
Evidence and Analysis:  Do you provide examples and illustrations from your online research, your readings, and your own experience?
Vivid examples from your own professional and personal experience?
Clear communication?
For your convenience, most of  the topics are listed here in summary form; the detailed requirements of these core topics and other discussion topics will be posted in our conference.

Week 1-1 Discussion Topic: After reading the material, in this week's discussion area, define technical and scientific writing. Give an example of what technical writing is and what it isn't. Identify the audience for whom you are defining the term.  Clearly differentiate scientific writing from technical writing.

Week 1-2 Discussion Topic: The electronic revolution has changed how we communicate as individuals and how organizations view communication. Is the Internet just an electronic messaging system students should learn as a "skill" requirement or can the substance and nature of the Internet be used as a complete working and learning environment for organizations and individuals?

Week 2 Discussion Topic: This week's topic addresses your goals and objectives for learning in this course. Describe the skills you seek to develop in your technical writing course. How exactly will you apply these skills to your career? Justify your company's paying for this course (or your paying for this course) by explaining how this course will help you become more effective on the job.

Week 3-1 Discussion Topic: Learning how to retrieve information on the Internet and World Wide Web is an important skill to master. This week I would like you to search on the Internet for five electronic references that would be of use to technical writers on the job. When you find these references, figure out how they could be used. Then, write into the discussion thread for this week an annotated bibliography of the five references for writers. Also, tell us what search engines you used to find these references.

Week 4 Discussion Topic: Analyze and describe the process you have used to plan how you will study and learn online. What techniques have you developed? What do you think are the most important processes for successfully learning online? Your audience should be your classmates.

Week 5-1 Discussion Topic: What are the audience, intended use of information, and purpose considerations when you design your resume?

Week 5-2 Discussion Topic: Write a progress report or status report of your work towards your analytic report to date.

Week 6 Discussion Topic: Many managers believe that an employee must be able to present information in a verbal form (or brief it) before they should be given the opportunity to write anything. This week, discuss briefing/presentation, how it is different from written presentation of information, and provide (as an attachment to your commentary in the discussion thread), a brief slide presentation on a topic of your choice.  I will provide you guidance on the format and technical aspects of online presentations.

Week 7 Discussion Topic: When writers plan to describe processes, mechanism, organizations or organisms, or write instructions, they must consider many issues related to audience, purpose of information, intended use, and how the hard copy or online documents will be used.  What are the audience considerations when writing instructions? What are the document planning and design issues?

Week 8 Discussion Topic: How do writers work collaboratively with authors or subject matter experts? Your discussion task this week is to develop a set of procedurals that can be used to manage documents in an electronic environment.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 92

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

Park University 2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95
ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .


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Last Updated:10/9/2009 3:31:32 PM