Writing for Technical Professionals
ENC 3241, Section 0M01
Fall 2006


Professor: Melody Bowdon, Ph.D. 

Email: mbowdon@mail.ucf.edu

Office Phone: 407-823-6234    


Office Location: Colbourn Hall, 302D
Office Hours:  Tues. 1 to 5 p.m.  Wed. 12 to 4 p.m.

Co-Professor:  Richard Denning, PhD 

Email:  drdenning@aol.com

Office Hours by appointment


Graduate Teaching Assistant:  Ms. Andrea Vought

Email:  andreavought@yahoo.com


Course Description
This course is an introduction to rhetoric and writing for technical professionals. It will give students an opportunity to develop a theoretical and practical framework for producing and assessing a wide range of texts for technical and lay audiences. Working with the five canons of classical rhetoric, students will identify strengths and weaknesses of texts and crucial features of major technical writing genres. In this service-learning course, students will work on a major course project that connects with significant community issues.  This section of the course will be taught by an interdisciplinary faculty team.  Working together, Dr. Bowdon and Ms. Vought from English and Dr. Denning from Engineering Technology will give students a unique opportunity to learn about the complexities of communication in a technical workplace.

Service-Learning Approach
This section of ENC 3241 is a UCF sanctioned service-learning class.  Students will spend a minimum of fifteen hours over the course of the semester on a service-learning activity.  This activity will address a need in our community, support our course objectives, involve a connection between the campus and the world around it, challenge students to be civically engaged, and involve structured student reflection.  We’ll spend time reflecting on our service-learning experience through class conversations, WebCT discussions, and field journal entries.  While there is a 15-hour minimum for service to pass the course, your service-learning efforts will be the core of much of the learning in the course.  Therefore your "grade" for service-learning will come from the tangible class-related projects that come out of it rather than simply from completion of the hour minimum.

Our service-learning work in this technical writing course will involve developing a technical manual for a local nonprofit organization.  This will allow students to work with a real world audience and will ensure that the significant time you put into your class project leads to meaningful results.  We’ll offer some suggestions for possible organizations groups of students may choose to work with and we’ll invite you to suggest other options.  We must approve all projects and each project will begin with a signed agreement among the students, the agency contact person, and the instructors and will end with an evaluation by the agency contact person.  No student will be expected to work on a project to which she or he has significant religious, political or moral objections.  It is each student’s responsibility to let us know about such objections before we finalize group assignments.

Technology Component
This section is designated as an "M" course. This means that it involves reduced seat time. Instead of attending class in person on Tuesdays you will engage in significant web-based or off-campus work each week. Some weeks this will involve real-time chat sessions during the usual class period.  Frequently it will involve engaging in meaningful web-based discussion of readings or reflection on service-learning activities.  This work will be done on WebCT, UCF's online learning system. All course materials will be available via this tool. To access the WebCT component, go to http://reach.ucf.edu/~enc3241o/ .  Please note:  The online portions of this course are a non-negotiable requirement.  In order to complete the class successfully you must regularly log on to the course site and complete all required web activities.

Student Requirements

  • All students must have completed one year of English composition.
  • All students must have regular access to all of the following:
    • Reliable Internet access
    • Up-to-date version of Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • Current virus protection software
  • All students must be prepared to work in a collaborative team.


Course Objectives
Each student who completes this course successfully will meet the following objectives:

  • Learn about technical writing from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • Identify the basic features of eight major professional document genres
  • Master basic concepts of rhetoric related to technical writing
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of her or his professional writing style
  • Draft and revise prose to produce clear, concise, coherent, and correct final products
  • Participate as an active member in a writing community
  • Develop a set of strategies for effectively responding to documents produced by peers
  • Produce a portfolio of polished professional documents appropriate for use in a job search
  • Develop a sense of her or his civic responsibilities through participation in the service-learning component


Course Materials
Service-Learning in Technical and Professional Communication. Melody Bowdon and Blake Scott.

Additional articles available via library reserves.


Course Policies

  • Attendance is an absolute requirement for this class. A student who misses more than two class periods is subject to a grade reduction.  Please don't be tardy. If you are late, you not only miss out on the very important information that is discussed at the beginning of class, you also interrupt the rest of us.  
  • Students will be graded on class participation, which will constitute five percent of the course grade.  This includes attendance, participation in class discussion, and contribution to peer review.
  • All students have access to e-mail accounts through the university. In order to fully participate in this class you'll need to have an account, check it regularly, and let your groupmates and the faculty team know if your address changes.  Most class business will be handled through WebCT mail, but on some occasions we may use outside email to quickly get a message across. 
  • All UCF students are responsible for upholding standards of academic integrity as explained in the Student Handbook and The Golden Rule. The bottom line is that students must never represent someone else's work as their own.
  • The Golden Rule also contains standards for basic good behavior in an academic setting. Students should respect one another and follow basic university rules. I will not tolerate racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, or other disrespectful comments in the classroom or in WebCT discussion.
  • Please let us know if you need accommodation due to a disability.  We will work with you immediately to resolve any such problems.


Text Guidelines

  • To receive full credit, all written assignments must be submitted on time, in proper format, and with the required supporting materials.  Most assignments will be submitted in hard copy and through the WebCT dropbox function. 
  • Each of the major assignments should be accompanied by a group cover memo identifying the audience and purpose of the text and indicating what revisions you have made and what revisions you would make if you had more time.  
  • Each student must also submit an individual memo for each assignment describing in detail her or his contributions to the document.  These memos will be used for individual grading.  For individual assignments, each student must submit only a cover memo identifying the audience and purpose of the text and indicating what revisions you have made and what revisions you would make if you had more time.
  • Class business should be documented in writing as memoranda. (This includes questions re: grades, policies, etc.; suggestions; explanations for absences; etc.) WebCT e-mail is ideal.
  • Except for in-class writings and critiques, all texts should be word-processed.
  • We do not accept late papers except in cases of documented legitimate emergencies. This does not include computer or printer problems. Only serious medical problems constitute emergencies.


Grading Standards

  • An A text is exceptional. This is the kind of document that might lead to a promotion in the workplace. It is professional and reflects the writer's /s' careful consideration of audience and purpose. It contains all necessary information (invention), is written in an appropriate and engaging style, is arranged in a logical manner, is memorable, and its delivery is visually appealing. It is free of mechanical errors.
  • A B text is strong. It would be considered acceptable in the workplace. It too is professional and reflects consideration of the rhetorical situation. It is generally above average in terms of the criteria mentioned above, but falls short of excellence in one or more category. It is free of mechanical errors.
  • A C text is competent. It would probably be returned for revision in the workplace. It is generally average in terms of the major criteria listed above. It has few mechanical errors.
  • Low C or D work is weak. It would probably get the writer into a bad situation in the workplace. It falls below average in terms of one or more of the major criteria.
  • F work fails in terms of one or more of these criteria. One or more of these texts would probably get a writer fired in the workplace.


Grade Scale

A = 93-100     A- = 90-92     B+ = 88-89     B = 83-87     B- = 80-82      C+ = 78-79     C = 73-77

C- = 70-72     D+ = 68-69     D = 62- 67     F =below 62


Grade Distribution

I= Individual Assignment                       G=Group Assignment


Assignment Name

Due Date

Percent of Final Grade

Class Participation

Throughout the semester


Responses to Readings and Field Journal

Throughout the semester


Letter of Inquiry and Resume (I)

RD: Sept. 7
FD: Sept. 19 


Project Proposal  (G)

Version One:  Sept. 28
Version Two: Oct. 5


Trip Report  (I)

 Sept. 28


Instructions  (I)

Oct. 26


Progress Report  (G)

 Nov. 2


Visual and Oral Project Presentation

Nov. 16


User Test Report  (G)

Nov. 28 


Major Project  (G)

Nov. 30

Part of portfolio

Final Project Portfolio  (G)

 Nov. 30



ENC 3241 Daily Schedule

R&R=Read the material and write a short response in your field journal

SLTPC= Service-Learning in Technical and Professional Communication


The information below is subject to change.  Check your WebCT email and calendar for the latest updates.



Assignments Due on this Date

Aug. 24

Course Introduction


Aug. 29

A Service-Learning Approach to Technical Communication

q       R&R

§         SLTPC Chapters 1 and 2

§         Gobbledlygook

q       Post Intro in Discussion Area

q       Review Project Ideas in WebCT

q       Review Module One (Course Intro)

August 31

Project Possibilities and Introduction to LOI and Resume

Guest Presentations by Nonprofit Organizations

q       R&R SLTPC Chapter 4

q       Review Module Two (LOI and Resume)

Sept. 5

Designing and Writing a Resume

q       R&R

§         Anderson "Obtaining a Job"

§         Markel: "Drafting and Revising"

q        Write Rough draft, Letter of Inquiry and Resume

Sept. 7

Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing in Technical Fields

q       R&R

  • SLTPC Chapter 3
  • Reynolds: "What Adult Workplace Writers Have Taught Me"
  • Lanham: "Who's Kicking Who?"

q       Post rough draft of LOI and Resume in small group discussion area

Sept. 12

Peer Review, LOI and Resume

Complete peer review of your groupmates' LOI and resumes

Sept. 14

Project Selection Day and Introduction to the Project Proposal

q       R&R SLTPC Chapter 5

q       Review Module Three (The Project Proposal)

Sept. 19

Elements of Effective Proposals

q       R&R

  • Kollin: "Proposals"
  • Anderson, "Proposals"
  • Johnson-Sheehan, "Designing Proposals"

q       Final Draft, LOI and Resume Due

Sept. 21

Collaboration and the Project Proposal

Guest Speaker: Tom Murphy, Construction Site Manager UCF Stadium

q       R&R

  • SLTPC Chapter 6
  • Dicks: “Managing Yourself”

q       Review Module Four (Group Duties)

Sept. 26

Work on Project Proposal with Team

q       Collaborate with team members on Project Proposal assignment

q       Group Duties Assignment Form Due

Sept. 28

 Creating the Major Project

q       R&R

  • SLTPC Chapter Seven
  • Anderson: “Instructions”

q       First Version, Project Proposal Due

q       Trip Report Due

Oct. 3

Writing with Clarity and Concision

q       R&R

  • Duleck: Bottom-Line Writing
  • Williams: Concision

q       Review Module Five (The Style Sheet)

Oct. 5

Creating Effective Manuals

q       Final Version, Project Proposal Due

Oct. 10

Making Information Accessible

q       R&R

  • Redish: “Making Information Accessible”
  • Markel: “Designing the Document”

Oct. 12

Guest Speaker: Don Main, Retired Navy Captain and builder of Disney cruise ships

q       R&R

  • Anderson: “Reports”
  • Williams: “Actions”

Oct. 17

Writing Instructions

Video Presentation

q       R&R Anderson: “Using Graphics”

q       Review Module Six (Instructions)

Oct. 19

Project Work Day

Work on major project with your team

Oct. 24

 Project Work Day

Work on major project with your team

Oct. 26

Introduction to Progress Report

q       R&R SLTPC Chapter Eight

q       Review Module Seven (The Progress Report)

q       Instructions Due

Oct. 31

Project Work Day

q       R&R 

Nov. 2

User Testing

q       R&R SLTPC Chapters Nine and Ten

q       Review Module Eight (User Testing)

q       Style Sheet Due

q       Progress Report Due

Nov. 7

Project Work Day

Collaborate on major project with your team

Nov. 9

Project Work Day

q       Collaborate on major project with your team

q       User Testing Plan Due

Nov. 14

Prepare for User Testing

Collaborate on User Testing with your team

Nov. 16

User Testing Day

q       In-Class User Testing Process Due

q       User Testing Poster/Presentation Due

Nov. 21

Work on Major Project

q       Project Rough Draft Due

q       Online Project Peer Review

q       Review Module Nine (Compiling the Portfolio)

Nov. 23

No Class—Thanksgiving


Nov. 28

Edit and Revise Project

q       Complete web-based course evaluation

q       User Test Report Due

Nov. 30


q       Project Portfolios Due

q       Agency Evaluation Due


Final Exam Period

Reflecting on the Course