Catalog Description

Introduction to technical communication-including advanced research strategies and documentation, developing professional publications and presentations, writing documentation, and editing technical materials. The course is designed for students who seek opportunities as professional writers, not as scientific professionals. Notes: Intensive Writing course. Offered in spring of even years. Prerequisite(s): WRIT 101 with a grade of C- or better.

Course Introduction

“Of the numerous images for the field and those who work in it, ‘problem solver’ is an especially productive characterization to consider, for it acknowledges the extent to which technical communicators contribute to the development and use of technology. It also suggests the challenges of working with language—visual and verbal—and of developing communication artifacts that represent tasks, processes, procedures, and more in a manner that is useful and usable.” – Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber, Introduction to Solving Problems in Technical Communication

“Written communication functions within disciplinary cultures to facilitate the multiple social interactions that are instrumental in the production of knowledge. […]. Knowledge production is carried out and codified largely through generic forms of writing: lab reports, working papers, reviews, grant proposals, technical reports, conference papers, journal articles, monographs, and so on. Genres are the media through which scholars and scientists communicate with their peers.” – Carol Berkenkotter and Thomas N. Huckin, “Rethinking Genre from a Sociocognitive Perspective”

As an introduction to technical communication, we will learn about technical communication as a field and a profession, and we will examine and engage the written, oral, and visual communication methods and genres commonly practiced by technical communicators. As a writing intensive course designed for students seeking opportunities as technical communicators, this course will address advanced research strategies and documentation; organizing and presenting information; the use of graphics and data visualization; document design; technical editing; the use of social media in technical communication; and writing for specialized forms such as professional correspondence, proposals, documentation, and technical and professional reports.

A central tenet of this course is that effective technical communication, as all communication, is social, situational, and contextual. To this end this course will emphasize a rhetorical genre studies approach, that is, we will examine the kinds of documents and publications technical writers often produce as having developed out of reoccurring needs of an organization, profession, or community that have become formal genres in order to create familiar and stable methods of sharing and exchanging information.