English 3050: Technical Writing

Instructor: Bradley Stabler

Time/Day: Tu/Th 1:25pm-2:50pm

Location: 217 State Hall

Office: 5057 Woodward Rm. 10408

Office Hours:  Tu/Th 12:00pm-1:00pm or by appt.

Prerequisites and General Education Designation

To Enroll in ENG 3050, students must have completed their WSU Basic Composition (BC) requirement (ENG 1020 or equivalent) with a grade of ‘C’ or better. With a grade of C or better, ENG 3050 fulfills the General Education Intermediate Composition (IC) graduation requirement.  Successful completion of Intermediate Composition with a grade of ‘C’ or better is a prerequisite to enrolling in courses in the major that fulfill the General Education Writing Intensive (WI) requirement for graduation.

Course Description

ENG 3050 prepares students for reading, researching, writing, and designing technical documents.  While some technical writing addresses a general audience (e.g., instructions), technical documents are often written for multiple audiences with different specializations (e.g., technical reports for executives and implementers).  Technical documents incorporate both textual (writing) and visual (graphics, illustrations, etc.) elements of design.  The main goals of the course are (1) to teach students to consider the audience(s) and purpose(s) in reading and writing technical documents; (2) to integrate research, writing, and design in the standard genres of technical writing; (3) to design effective technical documents with attention to text, visuals, format, usability, citation, documentation, and mechanics, using a flexible writing process incorporating drafts and revision; and (4) to work with current technologies for technical document design. 

Section Description

More specifically, our course is based on just-in-time principles and has a strong focus on collaboration and composing online. Such emphases should help prepare you for the kinds of technical and professional writing you will be called upon to do in the future, which will likely be increasingly collaborative and take place in digital environments. Student projects will be composed in reference to both “paper cases” based on real-world technical communication scenarios as well as technical communication tasks that students will select and develop on their own. Topics under review include audience and purpose analysis, visual rhetorics, writing on the web, post-Fordist work economies, creative problem-solving, and collaborative composition. Student projects include the three-part completion of an extensive research report as well as four other assignments on common genres of technical and professional communication.

Learning Outcomes

Students who pass ENG 3050 will be able to:
  • read, analyze and evaluate the design of technical documents, including text, visuals (graphics, pictures, etc.), format, usability, documentation, and mechanics
  • consider the audience(s) and purpose(s) for any given technical document
  • conduct research in support of designing technical documents, finding and evaluating print and electronic sources
  • write in basic genres of technical writing, including letters, resumés, memos, instructions, usability reports, proposals, and technical reports
  • use a flexible writing process that includes brainstorming, organizing, writing, providing and responding to feedback, revising, formatting, editing, documenting, and proofreading
  • use appropriate grammar, mechanics, and style for formal and informal technical documents, and to use standard conventions of citation and documentation to avoid plagiarism
  • use technology for reading, researching, writing, and designing technical documents
  • learn to write collaboratively as part of a team


Required: Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach (7th Edition)

(Available at our campus B & N bookstore; additional readings will be provided online or via e-mail or Blackboard)




Your final grade will be calculated based primarily on your performance executing written projects and several quizzes. Of the written projects, two (a proposal and formal report) are parts of a larger research and writing endeavor and four are “stand alone” assignments. Your participation in class discussion and as part of your assigned team will also be evaluated. Due dates for assignments will be posted on the schedule before the conclusion of the preceding project. Due dates for these assignments are subject to change depending on the progress of the course. However, once the due date is set, that is the expectation. You have a one-day grace period (at a cost of a deduction of 10% from the total score) after which no late assignments will be accepted.

  • Project 1: Technical Definition (10 percent)
  • Project 2: Proposal for Formal Report (15 percent)
  • Project 3: Instruction Set (10 percent)
  • Project 4: Ethics Assignment (10 percent)
  • Project 5:Job Application Packet (15 percent)
  • Project 6: Formal Report (25 percent)
  • Quizzes/Activities/Participation (15 percent)

 Grade Distributions

Final grades are based on the following scale:

  •  94-100%            A
  • 90-93%              A-
  • 87-89%              B+
  • 84-86%              B
  • 80-83%              B-
  • 77-79%              C+
  • 74-76%              C
  • 70-73%              C-
  • 67-79%              D+
  • 64-66%              D
  • 60-63%              D-
  • 00-59%              F
Note that a grade of C or better fulfills the Gen   Ed IC graduation requirement and the prerequisite for ENG 3060.


As this is a discussion and workshop-driven class, attendance of all participants is particularly important. In accordance with English department attendance policies, enrolled students in this class must attend one of the first two class sessions August 28 and/or September 2, 2014; otherwise, they may be required to drop the class. You are allowed two unexcused absences over the course of the semester; subsequent absences will result in a reduction of your final grade by 5% for each unexcused absence. If you have five or more unexcused absences you will not receive a grade higher than a C-. While you are encouraged to make use of office hours to discuss missed lessons this does not make up for your absence. If you know that you will miss a class, please notify me via email at least 24 hours in advance to have the absence excused.

To add the course, attend one of the first two class meetings and add by September 10. Students will not be permitted to add the course otherwise. The last day to drop the course and receive a refund of tuition is September 10. The last day to drop a course without having it appear on your academic record is September 24. Students may withdraw from a course with instructor approval September 25 to November 9.  The university does not permit withdrawals after this date.

Withdrawals [W]

Per WSU policy, the grade of WN is given to a student who did not attend any classes and/or did not complete any assignments by the withdrawal date.  If a student withdraws after having received a grade for any component of a course, then W grades must be either WP (withdrawal with a passing grade earned to date) or WF (withdrawal with a failing grade earned to date).

Incomplete Policy

As detailed in the WSU Undergraduate Bulletin, the mark of “I” (Incomplete) is given to a student when he/she has not completed all of the course work as planned for the term and when there is, in the judgment of the instructor, a reasonable probability that the student can complete the course successfully without again attending regular class sessions. The student should be passing at the time the grade of ‘I’ is given. A written contract specifying the work to be completed should be signed by the student and instructor. Responsibility for completing all course work rests with the student.

Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism is the act of copying work from books, articles, and websites without citing and documenting the source. Plagiarism includes copying language, texts, and visuals without citation (e.g., cutting and pasting from websites). Plagiarism also includes submitting papers (or sections of papers) that were written by another person, including another student, or downloaded from the Internet. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. It may result in an F for the assignment or an F for the course. Instructors are required to report all instances of plagiarism to the Department of English. According to the WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences policy on plagiarism, instructors may give a failing grade on the assignment or for the course.

The above is plagiarized from the Wayne State Policy on Academic Dishonesty; for more about the definition of plagiarism, consult your local library.

Writing Center

The WRT Zone (2nd floor, UGL) provides individual tutoring consultations, research assistance from librarians, and technology consultants, all free of charge for graduate and undergraduate students at WSU. The WRT Zone serves as a resource for writers, researchers, and students’ technology projects. Tutoring sessions focus on a range of activities in the writing process – considering the audience, analyzing the assignment or genre, brainstorming, researching, writing drafts, revising, editing, and preparing documentation. The WRT Zone is not an editing or proofreading service; rather, tutors work collaboratively with students to support them in developing relevant skills and knowledge, from developing an idea to editing for grammar and mechanics. Research and technology support is offered on a first-come-first served basis and covers research strategies, assessment of sources, general technology support, and help with Adobe Dreamweaver, Encore, Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop, and more. To make a face-to-face or online appointment, consult the Writing Center website:

For more information about the Writing Center, please contact the Director, Jule Wallis (phone: 313-577-2544; email:

Student Disabilities Services

If you feel that you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please feel free to contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Additionally, the Student Disabilities Services Office coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.  The office is located in 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library, phone:  313-577-1851/577-3335 (TTD). Additional resources include the Academic Success Center and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)



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