ENGL 301 (3 cr): Technical Writing

ENGL 301

Course Outline

  • Online discussions
  • Six major assignments
  • A final examination

Course Description and Prerequisites
English 301 involves students in the study of principles of written communication in business and professional contexts; it includes discussion of and practice in the preparation of abstracts, proposals, reports, and correspondence. English 301 is offered as a fully online course. The use of a computer and ready access to an internet connection are required.
Note: Credits in this course cannot be used toward a major or a minor in English.

Prerequisite: six credits of First Year English or Arts One or Foundations.

Intended Audience
This course should be of interest to students in a variety of disciplines such as commerce, science, education, and the health sciences. It may also be of interest to students in Arts Co-Op and other Co-Op programs.

Course Objectives
English 301 is a dedicated writing course offered to students in an online classroom environment. Students enrolled in the course will be expected to work in three ways: independently; in consultation with their instructor; and also collaboratively in writing teams to be established by the instructor following the first module (unit) of the course.

The course has these major purposes:

  1. to introduce students through course readings and activities to the distinctive elements of writing in business, professional, and technical contexts;
  2. to provide students with opportunities to practice and perfect in a series of shorter and longer assignments and projects the strategies and techniques particular to writing in these contexts;
  3. to engage students in online discussion and analysis of documents produced for business, professional, and technical contexts;
  4. to direct students to the considerable resources available to them through UBC’s Career Services unit;
  5. to involve students in developing and designing an electronic portfolio of their most significant course assignments and their written reflections on these assignments (The e-portfolio will be a practical and portable product of the course—a collection of documents and reflections intended as the basis of a dossier for entry into the world of work beyond university studies.)

Course Overview
English 301 is divided into six modules. Modules 2, 3, 5, and 6 each focus on a distinctive form or type of writing for professional purposes. The formal report, which is a course-long project designed to be completed in stages, is a focus of Modules 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. These assignments and your reflections upon them will also be used in the second course-long activity: the e-portfolio project.

Module 1. An Introduction to Principles, Practices and People in English 301 [2 weeks]
In Module 1, students will meet their instructor and classmates online and will be introduced to the principles of technical and business writing as set out in the opening chapters of the core course text, Technical Communication, 3rd ed. Students will explore the Future Mapping resources of UBC Career Services website, and submit their first assignment: a mini-resume. In launching into the formal report assignment, students will brainstorm topics and submit the results to their instructor in a short memorandum.

Module 2. Designing a Report Proposal; Defining Terms with Audience in Mind [2 weeks]
In Module 2, students will be assigned to the writing teams in which they will work collaboratively at several points in the course. In the first stage of the formal report project, students will design and submit a report proposal. And in this module, the focus on one distinctive genre of technical writing will involve the study and practice of definition for different audiences.

Module 3. Designing a Report Outline; Writing Business Correspondence [3 weeks]
In Module 3, students will take the formal report project to its next stage by first drafting a formal outline. The module’s focus on the genre of business correspondence will involve the study of principles of audience, tone, clarity, as well as presentation and practice in writing particular types of business correspondence.

Module 4. Drafting the Formal Report; Peer Review of the Formal Report Draft [2 weeks]
Module 4 will focus on the writing of draft #1 of the formal report, with emphasis on matters of organization, evidence, audience, and style distinctive to this form. In the second part of the module, members of the writing teams will participate in a constructive peer review of the content, organization, style and presentation of their colleagues’ drafts. The results of the peer review will be incorporated into the final draft of the report to be submitted in Module 6.

Module 5. Researching, Writing, and Maintaining Your Job Application Package [2 weeks]
As students work individually on revising and re-drafting the formal report, they will be accessing and working through the resources of UBC’s Career Services website (both Careers Online and Module 4 of the Future Mapping site, “Resume and Cover Letter Clinic”) to locate a suitable job advertisement and then to design and write a full job application package for posting to their instructor and eventually to their e-portfolio.

Module 6. Analysing Technical Documents (Instructions); Submitting the Formal Report; Finalizing the E-Portfolio [2 weeks]
Module 6 brings the course to a close. In this module, students will study the conventions attached to writing instructions and will engage with members of their writing team in discussion of strategies for analysis of instructions in preparation for the final examination. As well, students will submit the final draft of the formal report and the final version of the e-portfolio, including a closing reflection on the portfolio approach to technical and professional writing that will constitute the take-home portion of the final examination.

The six major writing assignments in this course include module assignments (one-time tasks involving basic technical writing strategies or business correspondence) and two course-long projects: the formal report and the e-portfolio. The assignments are as follows:

The module assignments (study of and practice in distinctive forms of technical and professional writing)

  • Module 2: Defining for different audiences
  • Module 3: Business correspondence
  • Module 5: Job application
  • Module 6: Strategizing for the analysis of instructions

Each module assignment introduces students to a particular kind of technical of business writing, together with its particular purpose, approach, formal conventions, and style.

The formal report and its stages

  • Module 1: Brainstorming topics for the report
  • Module 2: Report proposal
  • Module 3: Report outline
  • Module 4: Report draft and peer review
  • Module 6: Presentation copy

The electronic portfolio and reflections

  • Module 2: Reflection on the report proposal
  • Module 3: Reflection on writing business correspondence
  • Module 4: Reflection on the activity of the peer review
  • Module 5: Reflection on the job application package
  • Module 6: Final reflection on the portfolio project

By the end of the course, you will select from your previously completed assignments, discussion postings, and reflections to finalize an electronic portfolio exhibiting your considered choices of the technical and professional documents you have produced in English 301.

Course marks in English 301 will be distributed as follows:
Online discussion 10%
The module assignments 25%
The formal report and its stages 30%
The e-portfolio 15%
The final examination 20%
Total 100%

Course Schedule
English 301 is offered over a four-month period. Term 1 sections will be offered for the period from September to December and Term 2 sections for the period from January to April. Because students will be working online–collaboratively with their classmates and consultatively with their instructor–acceleration of the course is not permitted.

The Final Examination
The final exam will consist of two parts. Part one, to be submitted with the completed e-portfolio project at the end of Module 6, will require a final reflection on the use of the e-portfolio in the course. Part two, to be written in an on-campus setting, will follow from the discussion of strategies for analysing instructions in Module 6, and will require the analysis of a previously unseen technical document. Exam dates are set by the Student Services Office; exams take place during the regular examination periods in December and April.

Learning Resources
Required Textbooks: The texts ordered for this course through the UBC Bookstore are as follows:

  • Rodman, Lilita. Technical Communication. 3rd ed. Toronto: Nelson, 2005.
  • English 301: Custom Course Materials.
  • Messenger, W. et al. The Concise Canadian Writer’s Handbook. Oxford, 2009.

ENGL301 Textbook Order Form

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