SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY
ENGLISH 277: TECHNICAL WRITING ENGINEERING
3 credit hours
GENERIC SYLLABUS—Do not print for use. Refer to the syllabus for
your specific semester and section.
Instructor: Lisa Madsen
Office: West 121
Phone: 688-6002; 529-6059 summers & emergency
Mailbox: Scobey 016 mailroom
Office Hours: Online daily, M-F
online sections use D2L email
Markel, Technical Communication, current ed. (Ensure you do not buy the Lannon text by the same title.)
A fairly current dictionary. The bookstore sells a number of excellent pocket dictionaries. The American Heritage edition is
among the best.
Textbook Companion Website, TechComm Web (free access) at http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/techcomm
The South Dakota State University Bulletin Quarterly: Undergraduate Programs, 2009-2010 provides the following overview of
English 277: “Study of and practice of technical writing in Engineering and related disciplines” (314).
ADDITIONAL COURSE DESCRIPTION
Technical communication will help you in developing those skills which prove practical in both academics and the workplace.
While the field of Technical Communications involves written, oral, and computer skills, this course concentrates on writing.
Technical writing ranges from short memos and business correspondence to analytical reports, proposals, and specialized
documents such as technical definitions, descriptions, and abstracts. Effective methods of presenting information also
contribute to this discipline, including proper use of visuals and matching style to an audience’s needs.
PREVIOUS COURSES/EXPERIENCE: ENGL 101* and GE 101 or consent.
*For non-SDSU English 101 students: If your English 101 course or equivalent did not include university-requirement goals of
successfully conducting academic research and demonstrating, through research essay writing, application of a documentation
style, please discuss this with your instructor and see SDSU Briggs Library's website or in-library schedules of tutorials and free
review courses. English 277 students are expected to enter the course having met these described goals.
D2L navigation and materials access; Word processing to create documents with text and basic graphics; credible Internet
research and information literacy; basic file management (saving, converting, uploading, downloading).
This course follows a reading, lecture, discussion, and application format with textbook readings, review of model documents,
online practice quizzes and practice exercises, group work, peer reviews, and research. Methods of evaluation will involve
assessment of collaborative skills and efforts as well as assessment of one’s ability to draft and revise technical documents
(both single-draft and multiple-draft submissions). All assignments are “hands-on,” that is, practical, real-world types of tasks
which require critical (and sometimes creative) thinking. See Course Outline for more details.
English 277 Syllabus Generic 2
I check my emails daily on weekdays and on most weekend days. Always use the D2L email for class matters. If you call me at
home, leave a clear message with your phone number at beginning and end. I will call you back on my cell phone. Do not leave
messages on my office phone.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: SYSTEM GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
Goal #1: “Students will write effectively and responsibly and will understand and interpret the written expression of others.”
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT and EVALUATION
1. “Write using standard American English, including All assignments—revised and unrevised
correct punctuation, grammar, and sentence
2. “Write logically.” All assignments—revised and unrevised
3. “Write persuasively, using a variety of rhetorical Discussion questions and Formal Analytical Report
4. “Incorporate formal research and documentation into Formal Analytical Report and Group Project
their writing, including research obtained through
modern, technology-based research tools.”
Goal #7: “Students will recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, organize, critically evaluate, and
effectively use information from a variety of sources with intellectual integrity.”
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT and EVALUATION
1. “Determine the extent of information needed.” Introductory Discussion Post, Report Proposal, Formal
Analytical Report, Group Project
2. “Access the needed information effectively and Formal Analytical Report and Group Project
3. “Evaluate information and its sources critically.” Formal Analytical Report and Group Project
4. “Use information effectively to accomplish a specific Report Proposal, Formal Analytical Report, and Group Project
5. “Use information in an ethical and legal manner.” All assignments—revised and unrevised
IDEA Learning Objectives: Gaining factual knowledge.
Learning to apply course material.
Developing skill in expressing myself orally or in writing.
Acquiring skills in working with others as a member of a team.
Learning how to find and use resources for answering questions or solving problems.
Learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view.
COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A. Students will study, review, and apply the core principles of technical writing in revised and unrevised documents.
B. Students will demonstrate understanding of the entire writing process by completing a number of extensively drafted and
C. Students will demonstrate knowledge of core terminology by finding, explaining, and evaluating real-life examples of said
D. Students will demonstrate techniques for formatting and creating document supplements, producing all written
assignments through word processing.
E. Students will generate visuals through word processing programs and integrate those visuals into text.
F. Students will assess effectiveness of technical documents for conciseness, readability, and usefulness.
CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS
G. Students will choose a current, applicable, pragmatic technical topic for the Formal Report project.
H. Students will evaluate and discuss with peers real technical writing and discipline-based scenarios presented in the
textbook and found in cross-curricular experiences as well as the professional public.
I. Students will both ASK and ANSWER important questions as relevant to course content and the broader contexts in which
course content is used.
English 277 Syllabus Generic 3
CORE LEARNING SKILLS
J. Students will research, study, evaluate, and document electronic and print sources pertinent to their profession and their
chosen topics for technical reports and collaborative documents.
K. Students will apply clarity of expression to present themselves as growing professionals in their fields of expertise.
L. Students will practice and evaluate collaboration skills.
To pass this course, students must do the following to avoid automatic failure:
1. Choose a Formal Report topic approved by the instructor.
2. Complete all major writing assignments, the group project, and the Formal Report.
3. Submit the Formal Report on time.
LETTER PERCENTAGE RANGES POINT RANGE
A 90-100% 900-1000
B 80-89% 800-899
C 70-79% 700-799
D 60-69% 600-699
F 0-59% 500-599
The final grade assessment (translating into a 90-80-70/A-B-C...scale) follows:
2 Writing Assignments (WAs): 28% (14% each)
Discussion: 20% (see Course Outline tables for details)
Formal Report: 25%
Group Forums work: 27% (Group Memo 17%; peer reviews 5%; reflective assessments 5%)
WRITING ASSIGNMENTS (WA'S)
Students will submit 2 major Writing Assignments. Chapters in the text will present the content and examples for each Writing
Assignment, although all material learned is cumulative.
ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUMS
Students will participate in online Discussion to analyze practical, realistic situations; apply the content of the week; conduct
peer reviews of the Writing Assignments; and complete the group project.
You will also build the skills necessary to plan, develop, draft and revise a Formal Report due at semester's end. This project will
begin with a Proposal (WA1). You will work throughout the course on the various elements of the Formal Report, beginning
with topic selection and research.
Students should use the textbook companion site for individual review and practice as desired via practice quizzes, flash cards,
etc. You will find additional, discipline-specific links, examples, and models that maintain a current, pragmatic and application-
based (in that you will be able to put our course material into practice) perspective.
MAJOR WRITING ASSIGNMENT GRADING CRITERIA, ENGLISH DEPARTMENT FORMAL STANDARDS
The grade of “A” (“exceptional”) designates that an essay demonstrates
an excellent command of subject matter
a clear explanation and synthesis of ideas
thorough and persuasive substantiation of claims
clear and effective organization
precise, correct, and effective usage
correct grammar and punctuation
correct use of format and documentation
English 277 Syllabus Generic 4
The grade of “B” (“above average”) designates that an essay demonstrates
a reasonable command of subject matter
a capacity for explanation and synthesis of ideas, though it is not fully realized
a capacity for independent thought, though it is not fully realized
sufficient substantiation of claims
mostly clear and effective organization
mostly precise, correct, and effective usage
mostly correct grammar and punctuation
mostly correct use of format and documentation
The grade of “C” (“average”) designates that an essay demonstrates
an adequate command of subject matter
some weakness or inconsistency in its explanation and synthesis of ideas
relative absence of independent thought
inconsistent substantiation of claims
significant lapses in organization
significant lapses in usage
significant lapses in grammar and punctuation
significant lapses in format and documentation
The grade of “D” (“lowest passing grade”) designates that an essay demonstrates
an inadequate command of subject matter
insufficient explanation and synthesis of ideas
unexamined, clichéd thinking
inadequate substantiation of claims
poor, hard-to-follow organization
numerous errors in usage
numerous errors in grammar and punctuation
numerous errors in format and documentation
The grade of “F” (“failure”) designates that an essay demonstrates
a majority of the qualities of a “D” essay, but to a degree unacceptable in college-level writing
a failure to follow or complete the assignment
PROFESSIONAL WRITING STANDARDS
Concentrate on logic versus emotion.
Concentrate on the text, content and issues versus the writer.
Remember to think broadly about issues, and remain open to new ideas and the differing views of others.
Use specific yet concise headings for topics, subject lines, etc.
Avoid beginning sentences with pronouns, and follow formal guidelines for point of view (1st, 2nd or 3rd person).
Write with complete sentences.
Write with concision and clarity.
Strive to use concrete details to support abstract ideas and concepts.
Strive to use active voice versus passive voice.
Avoid wordy phrases, cliches, slang and culturally-insensitive language.
Use a dictionary, handbook, and the course textbook to ensure correctness.
Always use formal Standard English, which excludes digital and oral slang and requires adherence to rules of grammar,
syntax and mechanics.
All technical document correspondence should reflect a formal register (cf. formal, informal and familiar registers).
Consider emails part of your professional and evaluated writing. They represent and reflect directly upon you; write them
professionally to all of your instructors.
In consideration of your audience, include histories in emails and discussion.
English 277 Syllabus Generic 5
Follow all basic conventions for email and other technical documents. See rules and examples in your text as we proceed.
Review/edit all emails and assignments before sending or submitting.
Students should "attend" class by contributing to Discussion Questions (DQs) a minimum of 3 days each week, Monday-
Thursday. Students will not be required to attend on weekends, but Sunday deadlines will need to be met in advance if not on
that day. A "contribution" is met by posting either an “Initial” post or a “Reply” to another student's posting. Class
participation greatly improves learning, especially in an online environment. Missed deadlines and failure to meet DQ
requirements will both result in a reduction of points. Students must read ALL Discussion posts in DQs, Groups, and Daily
and Student Questions Forums.
Late assignments (WAs, group memo, report, and reflective evaluations) will be deducted 10% for each day late.
Late Discussion work will not receive points.
Make-up work is allowed ONLY in cases of prearranged or University-excused absences. The instructor will determine
what defines additional excused absences, including but not limited to serious and confirmed illness, death in the family,
and dire emergencies. Vacations do not receive excused absences. It remains your responsibility to notify me via my
home phone as soon as possible if an emergency arises.
CONCERNING HONESTY IN ACADEMIC WRITING
“The English Department announces herewith that it will not tolerate plagiarism—representing another’s work as one’s own—
in any form. Students must abide by the principles governing academic research and writing. Students who willfully violate this
principle will fail the assignment and the course. They also will report to the Dean of Student Affairs and face possible
expulsion from the University.
Willful violation of this principle includes the following:
Submitting another student’s essay or one essentially the same as another student’s essay. Both students will fail the
assignment and the course.
Submitting an essay that you have procured online or from a commercial supplier of essays.
Incorporating material from sources—data, analysis, organization—without providing appropriate documentation.
Fabricating sources or information.” (Department of English, 2011)
HILTON M. BRIGGS LIBRARY
Briggs Library continues to offer a full range of assistance to students, both on campus and online (at lib.state.edu). The Briggs
site includes a comprehensive list of guidelines for the University standards for information literacy. The Briggs Library staff is
an excellent resource for especially difficult research tasks or for rare documents or information, with librarians available on
campus and online. Briggs also maintains an open, rotating schedule of sessions addressing both review and specialized topics.
Visit the library to view updated schedules and the website for all library links and content (see lower left SDSU Resources
widget on Course Home page).
“Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Nancy Hartenoff-
Crooks, Coordinator of Disability Services (605-688-4504 or Fax, 605-688-4987) to privately discuss your specific needs. The
Office of Disability Services is located in room 125, the Wintrode Student Success Center.” (Academic Affairs, 2011)
FREEDOM IN LEARNING
“Under Board of Regents and University policy student academic performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis,
not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to
the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for
learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled. Students who believe that an academic evaluation
reflects prejudiced or capricious consideration of student opinions or conduct unrelated to academic standards should first
contact the instructor of the course to initiate a review of the evaluation. If the student remains unsatisfied, the student may
contact the department head and/ or dean of the college which offers the class to initiate a review of the evaluation.”
(Academic Affairs, 2011)