COMP 150TW-The Engineering Method of Technical Writing
This course is for graduate and undergraduate students who want to
improve their technical writing or who want to learn to write more
The course is a full-year, half-credit course,
which means that it meets only once per week, and over the course of
the year you will earn one full credit.
This course involves small-group instruction and enrollment is
to take the course you must have the consent of the
To obtain the instructor's consent, send a short statement of why you
are interested in the course and what you hope to get out of it,
accompanied by a one-page sample of something you have written on a
|Time: ||Fridays 3:00–4:15|
|Place: ||Halligan 111A
Ramsey, Halligan Extension 006
The workload is expected to start at 4–5 hours per week;
as your skills improve, the workload should decline steadily.
Grades will be based on in-class exercises and on a portfolio of work
done outside of class.
The course schedule is online.
The syllabus and methods for the course are explained at length in my
Technical Writing Using the Engineering Method.
The books by Williams and Boice are required.
Expectations for the course
I will teach you principles and practices used by
successful techical writers.
Here is what I expect from you:
Your grade for the course will be based on my assessment of these
I will also assess whether you can learn from a usage manual,
but that's less important.
- Do you pull your weight in class?
- Are you able to apply the principles and practices?
(Whether you choose to do so is up to you.)
Your portfolio must contain every exercise you do ahead of class or in
Each exercise must be dated.
You will probably prefer a paper portfolio, but an electronic
portfolio, which may contain scanned documents, will be OK.
I will inspect all the exercises as we do them in class.
I will review each portfolio at the end of each semester.
Your journal is your source of hard data about
which writing practices do and do not work for
Every time you work on a writing project (a "session"), I expect you to make an
entry in your journal.
Each entry should contain this information:
You probably will prefer to keep your journal electronically, but
a paper journal is also OK.
You can download a blank journal entry.
- The date and time you started.
- Your physical location.
- The project you worked on.
- What you expected to accomplish in the session.
(I expect you to devote some sessions to trying out writing practices
discussed in class.
However, depending on where you are in your project, it may be that in
most sessions what you are trying to accomplish is simply to get part
of your manuscript pre-written, written, or revised.)
- How long the session lasted.
- What you feel you accomplished.
- What practices, if any, you were trying to use.
- How well you felt you were able to apply the practices.
- How you felt about the session.
I will review each journal at the end of each semester.
I will also review randomly selected journals
at random intervals.
You must be prepared to provide a copy of your journal at any time.
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