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Technical Writing (McCracken)

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final report.doc

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Mt. Zion Handbook Group--nice job on your rubric additions! --morph



Scott's Review of Cover Letters/Resumes -- look at it for suggested feedback


As for the cover letter portion, almost all were honest and direct. Candor is important in directing one’s cover letter. It sets up the theme for an interview and a career. Now is the time to be direct! I did see one letter where the writer classified their own work as ’good’. I don’t necessarily suppose that is bad, but there are ways to praise your own work without saying it that directly. This is an example whereby I would probably be less direct and go with tact. I saw a few letters referring to high school achievements which are also not necessarily bad. However, some employers, although they knowingly hire younger applicants, don’t want to think of someone as fresh out of high school. I would omit those accomplishments. I also didn’t see many cover letters that referred to the applicant’s resume. I feel that is an important step in generating interest.


Now to the resumes: Some say a resume should have some personal hobbies or interests on it. I did see that in the resumes I reviewed. Personally, as someone who has had to go through resumes, I don’t care about your hobbies as an applicant. Sorry. I don’t care if you ride horses or follow NASCAR. From the perspective of someone who’s hired before; if the individual is hired, and we subsequently become acquainted, then I may garner interest in their interests.

I did notice in the resumes I reviewed that the data portions were usually done well. Dates of employment, anticipated dates, and school information were usually included. These are important items to include.

The resumes and cover letters for the most part met the criteria for review and would most likely be received well by perspective employers. It is important however, to absorb criticisms and make adjustments, so that we may fine tune our documents such as these.





Course Information




Required Texts


Bowdon, Melody and J. Blake Scott. Service-Learning in Technical and Professional Communication. New York: Longman, 2003.




Portfolio Keeping: A Guide for Students Reynolds and Rice (not required, but strongly recommended! only $7.00)




Additional readings supplied by me.




$$$ to make copies of your work and the readings as needed. 




Access to an e-mail account that you check on a daily basis. You are responsible for obtaining an e-mail account by the second day of class.




Course Policies.


Requirements. To complete this course successfully (i.e. with a grade of "C" or higher), you must attend class and all scheduled conferences, complete all assignments, prepare for class, and participate in classroom activities and discussions.




This course will require active participation and a great deal of reading and writing time outside of class. Consistent, punctual, and professional completion of assignments will be an absolute requirement of the course. I also expect you to come to class prepared to contribute to the discussion. On some days you will work on group projects in class, but in most cases, this work will be done outside of class. This course requires meeting with group members outside of class.  




Format. This course is a workshop and discussion forum in which you will produce a variety of technical/professional texts, develop rhetorical strategies for analyzing texts and writing situations, and participate in an ever-changing discourse community. Because it is a class, individual grades will be assigned; however, because one of our goals is to prepare to be writers in professional situations, much of the work will be collaborative. You will work individually and form small groups and work with outside organizations to produce a variety of genuine texts for those organizations. This approach will allow you to learn firsthand what it's like to work on a collaborative project with a variety of audiences and a very clear final goal.




Technology Requirements. In our class, you should expect to engage in quite a bit of computer work this semester. Our primary form of communication will rely on the computer. Therefore, in order to participate fully in the course, you should be able to use the technologies listed below:


  • Microsoft Office Applications, particularly Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher


  • Netscape Communicator, Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox


  • E-mail program that allows you to send and receive email attachments during computer class sessions




Technology Responsibilities. Because the exchange of information and materials in this class will be largely electronic, familiarity with certain technologies is crucial for participation and success in the course. You will be responsible for those tasks listed below. If you need any assistance at any point during the semester, please do not hesitate to ask me.


  • Become proficient sending and receiving email attachments.


  • Check the course calendar before the beginning of each class.


  • Become more proficient with unfamiliar computer technologies and applications.


  • Maintain back-up copies of all assignments via disks and/or email attachments to yourself.




Collaborative Work. Collaborative work is a major element of our course. In fact, most projects in our course will require you to act as either co-developer and/or co-author. You and your team members are responsible for updating one another and me about assignment progress. In addition, you are responsible for negotiating together all aspects of your work including project management, communication, planning, drafting, revising, file managing, and scheduling of tasks. You will be asked to evaluate your own and your peers' participation in collaborative projects, and thus, you should maintain detailed daily notes and records about your work.




Attendance and Punctuality. You are expected to be in class: because a lot of the significant work for the course is done during class—planning, drafting, group work, discussing samples, and practicing a variety of strategies—missing class hurts not just you but the whole class.  You must be in class to turn in papers, and you must have your work to participate in class activities. You have a responsibility to participate fully in your own education. If you miss more than two classes, you can be dropped from the course with a failing grade.




While in-class work cannot be made up, if you must miss a class, let me know in advance so that we can rearrange draft deadlines. You are responsible for obtaining any handouts or assignments for that class session. Late work will not be accepted.




Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism. Students attending USF are awarded degrees in recognition of successful completion of coursework in their chosen fields of study. Each individual is expected to earn his/her degree on the basis of personal effort. Consequently, any form of cheating on quizzes, examinations, or plagiarism on assigned papers constitutes unacceptable deceit and dishonesty. Disruption of the classroom or teaching environment is also unacceptable. This cannot be tolerated in the University community and will be punishable, according to the seriousness of the offense, in conformity with this rule.




Penalties for Academic Dishonesty. Plagiarism is a form of stealing, and it will not be tolerated. Penalties for academic dishonesty will depend on the seriousness of the offense and may include assignment of an "F" or a numerical value of zero on the subject paper, report, etc., an "F" or an "FF" grade (the latter indicating academic dishonesty) in the course, suspension or expulsion from the University.




If any document in your final portfolio shows evidence of plagiarism, your portfolio will receive an F and a formal statement will be sent to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Services.  Failure to cite sources will be penalized by a zero for the project participation grade (including, but not limited to, peer conferences and daily writings) and a required rewrite of the document. If you have any questions about proper documentation procedures, please ask.




Religious Preference Absence Policy. Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide advance notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing.




Accommodation Policy. Students with documented learning and/or physical disabilities in need of accommodation are encouraged to work with Student Disability Services and inform the instructor about any special requirements they may have regarding note taking, reading assignments, and test taking.




Disruption of Academic Process. Disruption of academic process is defined as the act or words of a student in a classroom or teaching environment which in the reasonable estimation of a faculty member: (a) directs attention from the academic matters at hand, such as noisy distractions; persistent, disrespectful or abusive interruptions of lecture, exam or academic discussions, or (b) presents a danger to the health, safety or well being of the faculty member or students.




Punishment Guidelines for Disruption of Academic Process. Punishments for disruption of academic process will depend on the seriousness of the disruption and will range from a private verbal reprimand to dismissal from class with a final grade of "W," if the student is passing the course, shown on the student record. If the student is not passing, a grade of "F" will be shown on the student record. Particularly serious instances of disruption or the academic process may result in suspension or permanent expulsion from the University.




In short, this is a code of professionalism. A professional would NOT read the newspaper at a meeting, scan email, text, or look at non-related web sites, for example. Nor would she slump, interrupt rudely, or whine about missed due dates. Professionalism means that you come to class prepared, treat your associates and myself as you would have us treat you, and thoroughly prepare for your conferences with me by being organized and on time. If you have concerns about team work, I expect you to address your concerns to your team first and try to find solutions before coming to me. I am perfectly willing to help you solve problems if you bring your own ideas for solutions.




Gender-Inclusive Language. Because the way we write and speak influences the way we think, you are required to use gender-inclusive language in your writing and speaking.  Please see Help with using Gender-Inclusive Language. 


Take advantage of the opportunities this class offers. I will be a careful reader and responder to your documents. Also, learn to work with your classmates. We all bring different types of expertise to the class, but part of your grade is indirectly based upon your willingness to help and be helped by your peers.


contact information. Feel free to contact me if you are feeling shaky about anything. The best way to reach me is through e-mail (jmccrack@stpt.usf.edu). I check it often. You can also leave a message for me at 873-4740, although you are almost guaranteed to reach me sooner by e-mail. If you do leave a message, please leave a number where I can reach you.




Office Hours. I will be holding office hours from 11:00-1:00 every Tuesday and Thursday in DAV 120. I am also available by appointment if my office hours do not work for you. Please remember that you don't need an invitation from me to visit my office to discuss your work, your grades, etc. You are responsible for obtaining the help you need, so if you have any concerns or questions, please take the initiative and see me sooner rather than later.






Text Guidelines.


Text Guidelines. To receive full credit, all written assignments must be submitted on time, in proper format, and with the required supporting materials. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date. No late work will be accepted without a penalty unless an arrangement has been made with me at least two days prior to the due date. Late work will be reduced by 10 points for every day late.




Electronic Cover Memos. With each assignment you submit to me, you will write an accompanying memo that examines your progress so far on your work. It will outline what feedback you have received so far, it will point to areas in which to hope to receive additional feedback, and it will offer a revision plan of action.  Please remember that I will not grade a paper without a cover memo.




Class business should be conducted in writing as memoranda to both myself and your associates. This includes questions regarding grades, policies, etc., suggestions, explanations for absences, and so forth. E-mail is the ideal medium for this communication. I expect these memoranda to be written in a professional manner.


All texts should be word-processed. Each project must be completed to receive a passing grade in the course. Please note that omitting any part of your project's portfolio (memos, progress reports), or missing an editing workshop or group conference will result in a substantially lowered grade. Deadlines are negotiable only in cases of a documented medical emergency.




Submit one clean copy of the cover memo and final draft of each assignment, including collaborative projects. Drafts of all major assignments are mandatory, and I will not accept a paper for a grade without first seeing a draft. Final drafts should exhibit significant changes from initial drafts. Keep an additional copy of each assignment for your files to insure credit for all work.




Typos make the reader wonder if you care enough about your work to proofread—don't have them! Your grade can be reduced by at least a half letter grade for typos as they take away from the professionalism of your work.






Portfolios. This is a portfolio-based class. Over the course of the semester, you will develop two portfolios, one of finalized projects and one of participation work, that reflect your overall work in the course. Until the portfolios are finalized and turned in, you will have only tentative grades in the course.






Collaboration. Teamwork is a large part of the work we will be doing in this class, and you will need a paper trail to document your work on the team. Please keep all electronic communications as well as handwritten notes, memos, drafts to be included in your collaboration section of your participation portfolio.




Daily Writing. Most class periods we will begin with a short (10-15 minute) writing assignment. Because these are mostly for you, to set the tone of the day, these will be graded under participation as completed or not completed. (These cannot be made up if you miss class or are more than 10 minutes late to class.)




Daily Log. A companion to your daily writings, during the last 5 minutes of class you will write a recap of your work in the class for that day. It should outline what you had planned to accomplish, what you actually did accomplish, and the tasks you need to prepare in the coming days. Because so much of this class is group oriented, you need to know exactly what you need to do at all times to be a contributing, and ultimately successful, group member.




Associate Reviews. You are asked to participate in oral, written, and electronic peer conferences in which you will read and critique one another’s projects. You will be asked to provide feedback to your colleagues in this class for each major writing assignment. To earn all available points, you’ll need to not only respond to others’ work and their commentary on your work, but also communicate with me about your work (drafts, responses, revisions). Each time a draft is due, you will place it on the class discussion board. Members of the class will read and respond to the draft, and to each other’s comments. The author will make a final statement about the usefulness of the suggested changes and submit an Electronic Memo to Instructor (EMTI) about the changes to be made to the draft.




Electronic Memos to Post. As we read chapters in the textbook, you will be asked to write a response to that text that you will post the class discussion board. In order to receive full credit for your work, you are asked to read and respond to others’ posts, and to collect and distribute other items of interest to the class.




Electronic Cover Memos to Instructor. With each assignment you submit to me, you will write an accompanying memo that examines your progress so far on your work. It will outline what feedback you have received so far, it will point to areas in which to hope to receive additional feedback, and it will offer a revision plan of action.




Grammar Presentations. You will develop and present a grammar lesson, with a handout, based on a experience you’ve had with a grammatical issue. You will teach the class what the grammar error is, why it is problematic, especially in terms of ethos, and how to avoid making the mistake in the future. For example, you might find, explain, and correct mistakes in a sales letter you have received. You will provide copies of your lesson for everyone in the class.




Participation. The how of what you do, this covers both quality and the extent to which you take your own education seriously. Consists of class discussion, preparation of reading materials, conference work, process drafts (on time), online work, oral and written comments from collaborative works, group evaluations, self-evaluations (reflective memos, mid-term assessments, etc.), letter writing and individual and group presentations.




Presentation Portfolio                     

            Resume and Cover Letter                   




            Progress Report                                   


            Final Project                                       


            Final Report                                        


            Class Proposal Presentation    


            Class Final Presentation


            Reflective/Analytical Evaluation




Participation Portfolio                     



            Daily Writings                        


            Daily Logs                                          


            Associate Reviews


            Electronic Memos Post


            Electronic Memo Instructor


            Grammar Instructions






Evaluative Criteria. Not all work in this class will receive a grade on it. For some work, you will merely receive participation points; for others, you will receive feedback. Your final grade for this class will be determined by the product and participation portfolios you turn in at the end of the semester. However, you should be prepared to turn in all work you have done on any given project at any time, especially when you are asking for a tentative grade in the course.




Drafts will receive a grade for timeliness of submission. In order for peer review and consultations to work, you as a writer must have real words on real paper to work with. Points will be deducted for late or incomplete drafts.




A and B are honor grades, and they reflect active class participation, leadership in your own education, and attention to detail.




Participation. Everyone begins the class with an A for participation; however, you make a choice by your actions to maintain the A or renegotiate for a lower grade. Grades A and B indicate a thoroughness and completeness to your considerations and contributions to your group and to the class. A C means coming to class and doing the minimum to get by. Grades below a C indicate that you have missed drafts, deadlines, and conference, or received poor evaluations from your team members, essentially not providing your minimum contribution to the class.




If you ever have questions about a grade you receive on an assignment in this class, submit your question in writing.




Individual/Team Document Design Project (Final Project).


Purpose: to learn how to write a technical document while being aware of your writing process and the potential implications of your writing in the organizational setting with which you will be interacting. You will conduct research and document the results for a local nonprofit agency. Your project must have a real purpose for a real audience, and you must have an out-of-class reviewer for your work (someone from one of the sites for whom you are designing the document). You'll be asking the reviewer to write a one-page report on your work to help you refine it. The document you produce could be a web site, a recommendation report, a conclusion report, a brochure, instructions, or anything that will be useful for the site your team chooses. 




Student Rights and Responsibilities.


  • You are responsible for earning the grade you want; grades are not “given,” or “deserved,” or “received.” You earn your grade by your performance not only on final drafts but also by participating in groups, drafting and revising documents, and making connections to work outside this class.


  • You are responsible for being in class and being in class prepared.


  • If you are more than 15 minutes late to class, you will be considered absent for that day.


  • If I am unexpectedly delayed at the beginning of class, you are asked wait 15 minutes from the beginning of class. After 15 minutes, if someone associated with the university has not otherwise notified you, class is dismissed.


  • You have a right to prompt feedback on your work. Therefore, no work will be accepted after the due date. Failure to turn in work on time will result in a 0 for the assignment.


  • Keep all work—from notes to memos to rough drafts to email—until the end of the semester, as you will need them for your portfolios.


Student Portfolio Permission Form




By signing below, I give my instructor, Jill McCracken, and the Writing Program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg permission to photocopy or save electronically the full or partial contents of my final portfolio, to keep those copies on file, and to quote from those copies for research purposes (professional presentations, articles, or textbooks).




If portions of my written work are used, my instructor agrees to change my name and to protect my identity if I check that option below (first names only). I also understand that if I check the second box below, my writing may be edited in accordance with publishers’ wishes.




I understand that the goal of this research is instructional and educational—and that my writing will be treated or presented respectfully. My instructor has assured me that signing or not signing this permission form will not affect my course grade in any way.




Please check at least one of the following:


___ I give my permission to have these materials used in the above manner.


___ I request that my first name be changed.


___ I give permission for my writing to be edited.


___ I do not give my permission to have these materials used in the above manner.


___ I can be reached at the following permanent address if questions arise about my portfolio:










Signature: ________________________________________________


Printed Name: _____________________________________________


Date: ____________________________________________________






























Syllabus Response—read the directions completely and Carefully



purpose of this assignment


I want to be sure that you and I are on the same wavelength in terms of my expectations for this class and your expectations. By reading the syllabus carefully and writing responses to a series of questions about it, you will give me a sense of any adjustments I need to make to the course schedule and my expectations so that the course is most useful to you.




what to do


Read all the pages of the syllabus carefully (so you need to read the Description, Goals, Policies, Calendar, and Resources pages). Then type up and print out (I will not except email for this assignment) an approximately 500-750 word response to the following questions about the syllabus. This response is due at the beginning of class on Monday, January 12.




Please do not write up your response as a series of numbered responses to the questions; given that part of what I hope to encourage in this class is a creative response to communication projects, I hope that you will find creative ways to produce a piece of writing that responds to these questions — but just be sure that your writing reflects well upon you. And please put all of your responses into your own words; if you simply copy and paste my words back at me, this will not show me that you are starting to make this class your own.




    * Which of the course goals look most useful to you? What do you think you need to strengthen most in how you communicate with others? What are your goals and expectations for this class? Read over the Student Learning Outcomes in the syllabus. What do they mean to you? What questions do you have about them?




    * What are the main assignments for this course? Which of these assignments most interests you? Which least interests you? Which do you feel most prepared to undertake? What do you need to learn to be able to complete these assignments to your satisfaction?




    * What is my policy on late work? On attendance? On you revising assignments?




    * When are my office hours? Why should you come to my office hours frequently? What kind of help or discussion will be useful to you when you come to my office hours? When are you planning your first visit to my office hours?




    * What do you think my responsibilities are as a teacher in this class? What are your responsibilities as a student?




    * After reading the syllabus, what do you hope to learn from class? What will you be able to contribute to class, and how will you be most useful to others in class? What kind of support will be most helpful to you from others?




    * What makes you most nervous about what I've written in the syllabus? What do you think will give you the most pleasure in this class? What are the abilities you bring to class that you think will help you the most? In what ways can you push yourself to do your best possible, most attentive work in this class?


    * What are 2-3 questions you have about this class?









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