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Writing 300: Foundations of Professional and Technical Writing

Catalog Listing

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Writing 300 introduces students to the rhetorical principles and professional practices of professional and technical writing, with special emphasis on understanding and developing professional portfolios. Students acquire the research, writing, communication, analytical, and technological skills needed to succeed within the professional writing minor and in professional and technical communication careers after graduation.

Students in Writing 300 learn:

  • How core concepts such as culture, rhetoric, and technology relate to the work of professional and technical writing, and students will begin to use and apply this knowledge as they begin to compose the kinds of documents common to these fields;
  • To analyze and manipulate design principles and rhetorical moves found in professional and technical writing; students will experiment with the digital tools, research skills, and writing strategies that mark effective professional writing practice in today’s information economy.
  • Finally, students will develop the self-reflection, visual design, and digital composing skills needed to publish a writing portfolio that showcases your professional writing competencies and projects your professional writing identity.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to do the following:

  • Understand how various organizations and industries define professional and technical writing as well as how various disciplines define professional and technical writing studies.
  • Discuss what kinds of roles and what types of activities professional and technical writers perform within various organizations and industries.
  • Define core concepts of professional and technical writing, such as genre, context, audience, culture, usability, writing, information design, work tools, usability, technology, and new media, and discuss how these concepts relate to the work of professional and technical writing.
  • Use and apply knowledge of the kinds of documents; rhetoric and design principles; and digital tools, research skills, and writing strategies that mark ethical, effective professional writing practice.
  • Identify and analyze patterns in one’s own writing practice and in the writing and communication practices of organizations or communities in which one works.
  • Use problem-solving methods from the fields of professional and technical writing studies and rhetorical studies to invent or redesign texts and communication tools and to manage individual and collaborative writing projects.
  • Design and compose a writing portfolio that showcases the student’s professional and technical writing competencies and projects a distinct professional writing identity.

Projects and Deliverables

In addition to weekly reading responses and discussions in and out of class, students will complete the following projects:

  • “A Day in Your Life as a Writer” Visualization and Essay
  • “Studying Your Work Context” Visualization and Essay
  • “Writing and Revising within Organizational Structures: Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK) Project Wiki
  • Proposal for TCBOK project
  • Electronic professional writing portfolio (will include welcome page, competency statement, reflections, resume, and at least 2 writing samples)

Real-World Skills

Writing 300, in harmony with most of the courses in our Professional Writing Minor, will give students a primer on technical communication and digital literacy focused on building marketable skills for the modern economy, regardless of the specific field or career students plan to enter. Employers value oral, written, and digital communication skills in prospective hires. A 2006 study found the following skills to be “very important” for graduates:

Skill Percentage of employers who think the skill is “very important.”
Oral Communication 95.4
Teamwork and Collaboration 94.4
Professionalism and Work Ethic 93.8
Written Communication 93.1

Reproduced from Mike Markel, Practical Strategies for Technical Communication, pp. 5