Course Information:

Title: Introduction to Professional Writing
Number: ENG 204-009
Time & Location: T 3:30–4:45 (MO 204) & R (online)
Instructor: Dr. Jeremy Tirrell
Office: MO 161
Office Hours: T, W, R 2:00–3:00 (and by email or appointment)

Course Overview:

Students in this course will engage core professional writing concepts such as audience analysis, document design, usability, and ethical composing practices. Students will produce material including public relations documents and technical instructions in both print and electronic formats. Individual and group projects are a feature of this course, as is directed service-learning with community partners.

This is a hybrid course. During most weeks, students will meet once in a classroom and have one online instruction session. Compared to standard sections, hybrid courses require students to be more autonomous and more comfortable with online interaction. Because of their structure, hybrid courses are often more rigorous and individuated than standard sections. Students should be aware that hybrid courses ask students to be thoroughly invested in their own success.

All class members are expected to treat each other with appropriate courtesy and decorum, and all coursework should be completed in a thorough, timely fashion. All students must read and understand the policies articulated in this syllabus and sign the course contract in order to remain in the class.

ENG 204 is the gateway course for the Professional Writing major track, which emphasizes conscientious intention, rhetorical composition, and explicit reflection. Professional Writing majors will complete a personal portfolio of work for the ENG 496 capstone course. This portfolio collects artifacts from throughout a student's academic career and asks the student to reflect on his or her educational experiences. To facilitate the production of this portfolio, Professional Writing majors should retain copies of their academic work and practice conscientious intention, rhetorical composition, and explicit reflection in their courses.

Course Learning Outcomes:

To complete this course successfully, students should demonstrate the ability to:

  • develop strategies for analyzing the components of organizational contexts, including audiences, purposes for writing, and organizational cultures (WI 1, IL 1, IL 2)
  • design documents, including memos, instructions, and reports, through an iterative process of drafting and revision that meet the needs of their audiences and accomplish their goals (WI 2, IL 3, IL 4)
  • construct arguments that appeal to several audiences at once and are based upon multiple sources of evidence (WI 1, IL 3)
  • conduct original, archival, textual, database, and/or internet research that can be used to support arguments (IL 1, IL 2)
  • read and compose multimedia texts critically and learn strategies for critiquing the medium itself (WI 1, IL 4)
  • work with others to improve their writing and produce texts and presentations (WI 2)
  • use computer technologies necessary to communicate, research, design, and publish texts
  • understand ethical considerations involved in organizational communication (WI 1, IL 3)
  • conduct usability testing to support document/product design and revision
  • design effective graphics for use in documents and presentations

Required Materials:

  • The Essentials of Technical Communication, 3rd ed., Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga. This book may be obtained from:
  • Be aware that electronic/loose-leaf/ring-bound/rental versions of the textbook are perfectly usable, but they do not have any resale value.

  • Online readings provided on the course website

Course Policies:

Technology Expectations:

  • ability to interact with the course website
  • access to provided visual design software
  • an email account checked regularly for course-related business
  • a networked drive, flash drive, or other means to backup coursework

Routine interaction with technology is an integral component of this class, and computer problems are not valid excuses for incomplete coursework. Students should practice the core principle of digital data hygiene: redundant backup. Digital technology will fail; students should be prepared for that eventuality.

Personal Technology Devices in the Classroom:

Students may use laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices during class, provided that they do not disrupt other students' learning or the instructor's classroom management. Because this is a hybrid course, face-to-face interactions have been scheduled to take place during in-class periods. Each student is responsible for his or her own engagement with class meetings, and thus the resultant success or failure in the course. Research suggests that students will be better served by not using such devices in class.

Availability of Material Online:

Some material students post to this website may be publicly accessible on the Web. Any material posted to the course website may be used anonymously for instruction or research purposes. The instructor reserves the right to record and display in-class and online academic interactions for instruction or research purposes.

Collaborative Work:

Teamwork and group projects are required elements of the course. When a group project is assigned, students will participate in activities that help foster successful collaboration. Student groups will be mostly autonomous and all members are expected to function professionally. After the conclusion of group activities, individuals will complete forms assessing the contributions and behavior of group members and the global performance of the team.

Attendance and Punctuality:

Because this class contains a strong workshop and discussion component, class attendance is crucial. It is made more precious by its rarity; the semester contains only 15 in-class periods. Role is taken shortly after class begins. If a student is not present when role is taken, he or she will be considered absent. If there are extraordinary circumstances that will prevent a student from attending class, he or she must contact the instructor beforehand. There is no separate attendance component of the course grade, but any student who misses more than three in-class meetings without clearance from the instructor will fail the course automatically. Additionally, any work missed because of an absence cannot be made up. This includes project assignments. The class abides by the maxim that all members of the class should show respect to one another by meeting at designated times and places prepared to work.

Late Work:

Late work is not accepted under normal circumstances.

Statement on Academic Integrity:

All UNCW community members are expected to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the UNCW Student Academic Honor Code. Students are expected to produce original work in this course. Collaboration and incorporation of external material and ideas into original work is of course necessary and acceptable, but all students are ethically obliged to document external sources through appropriate citation practices. Students who are uncertain if some element of their work constitutes plagiarism or another honor code violation should speak with the instructor. The point of any class is to educate, not to punish; nevertheless, the consequences of honor code violations are appropriately dire. Please consult the UNCW Code of Student Life for more information.

Statement on Services for Students with Disabilities:

The university will make every effort to accommodate students with disabilities. Students requiring accommodations should contact the Disability Resource Center, as the instructor can take no action without its guidance. Students should do this as soon as possible, as accommodations cannot be made retroactively.

Statement Regarding Violence and Harassment:

UNCW practices a zero tolerance policy for any kind of violent or harassing behavior. Students experiencing an emergency of this type should contact the police at 911 or UNCW CARE at 962-2273. Resources for individuals concerned with a violent or harassing situation can be located at the UNCW Crisis Resources page. Students should be aware that all university employees, including instructors, are legally obligated to communicate any report of alleged sexual misconduct, on or off-campus, to the Dean of Students. Three university entities are confidential resources exempt from this obligation: CARE, the Counseling Center, and the Abrons Student Health Center.

Statement on Religious Observance

In accordance with NC SL 2010-211, students are entitled to two excused absences for religious observances per academic year. Students must inform the instructor in writing the first week of class if they will miss any classes due to religious observance. Additionally, students should inform the Registrar the first week of class who will then coordinate with the corresponding course instructors. Any absence for religious purposes will be considered unexcused unless a student submits the request in writing the first week to the instructor or Registrar.

Course Grading:

Grade Disbursement:

Each student will have secure access to his or her grades online through Blackboard.

Grade Components:

Engagement Assignments = 20 points
Reading Quizzes = 50 points
Reading Responses = 30 points
Corporate Communication Project = 100 points
Instructions Project = 100 points
Service Learning Project = 100 points

Total = 400 points

All projects will go through drafting and revision processes before they are turned in for a grade. In order to reflect the conditions of a professional environment, projects have hard deadlines, and no make-up or second chance opportunities will be available. The instructor will provide extensive comments on project drafts and discuss them with students. There will be very few or no comments on returned final versions. This is because the primary purpose of feedback is to improve student work rather than to explain why it earned a particular grade. Students are always welcome to visit office hours to discuss work at any stage, including after it has been graded.

Final Course Grades:

This courses uses the plus/minus grading system on final grade reports. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 92%–100% = A
  • 90%–91% = A-
  • 88%–89% = B+
  • 82%–87% = B
  • 80%–81% = B-
  • 78%–79% = C+
  • 72%–77% = C
  • 70%–71% = C-
  • 68%–69% = D+
  • 62%–67% = D
  • 60%–61% = D-
  • 0%–59% = F