ENGLISH 303-02/FALL 2014

Scientific and Technical Writing

Instructor: Dr. Andrea Olinger  andrea.olinger@louisville.edu
Class Meetings: 1-1:50 pm, MWF, in Humanities 104A
Office hours: MW 2-4 pm and by appointment
Office: Humanities 312D  502-852-3051

What is this course about?
This course is designed for upper-division students in computer science,
engineering, and the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics), as well as other
departments. Given the diversity of majors and career trajectories here and the multiplicity of writing
practices entailed, each of you will research writing and communication in your own academic and
professional areas of interest. You will discover how members of your field communicate technical
information—to each other and to the public—and you will develop strategies for analyzing and
responding to these and other new writing situations.

In addition to daily reading and writing assignments, there will be five major writing projects (listed
below), two of which will be completed with a group. You can revise them as much as you want for your
end-of-semester portfolio, which will collect your best work.

In this course, we will investigate the following questions, each paired with a corresponding assignment:

1. How is research in your academic discipline a “social enterprise”? (Weeks 1-3)
Assignment: Map of communication forums and technologies in your discipline
2. How does the form of research articles in your discipline reflect its logic & values? (Week 4-7)
Assignment: Textual analysis of research articles (group project)
3. What are the writing practices and conventions in your particular career field? (Weeks 8-11)
Assignment: Qualitative research report (group project)
4. How can you best communicate technical information to popular audiences? (Weeks 12-14)
Assignment: Project of your choice that adapts technical info for a popular audience
5. How have you developed as a scientific/technical writer? (Weeks 15-16)
Assignment: Reflective essay and portfolio assembly

What texts should I buy?
 Penrose, A. M., & Katz, S. B. (2010). Writing in the sciences: Exploring conventions of scientific
discourse (3
ed.). New York: Longman.
 Additional readings to be provided on Blackboard

What are the prerequisites, and what requirement does it satisfy?
This course satisfies the Arts and Sciences upper-level requirement in written communication
(WR), so you must have already taken English 102 or 105.

What are the student learning outcomes for English 303?

Rhetorical Knowledge
By the end of English 303, students should demonstrate the ability to produce writing and use oral
communication skills that
If you miss class, contact this
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 Demonstrate knowledge of audience, which includes the ability to determine appropriate scope,
genre, technical vocabulary and detail, and tone when writing for both technical and non-technical
 Demonstrate knowledge of context, which includes analyzing professional cultures, social
contexts, and audiences to determine how they shape the various purposes and forms of writing
 Demonstrate an ability to use, explain and integrate quantitative information with verbal prose
to achieve particular rhetorical purposes
 Demonstrate knowledge of research methods that produce professional documents, including
analyzing professional contexts and assessing and summarizing information resources

By the end of English 303, students should demonstrate the ability to produce writing that
 Demonstrates knowledge of the writing process, which means engaging various strategies for
planning, researching, drafting, revising, and editing documents that respond effectively and
ethically to scientific and technical situations and audiences
 Demonstrates knowledge of collaborative strategies, such as writing in a team setting, working
and communicating on-line, setting and achieving project goals, and responding constructively to
peers’ work

By the end of English 303, students should demonstrate the ability to produce writing that
 Demonstrates control of the editing process, including the production of documents which exhibit
concise language, appropriate technical vocabulary, appropriate format, proper sentence structure,
and standardized grammar
 Demonstrates knowledge of document design, including the implementation of various principles
of format, layout, and design of professional visual/verbal documents that meet multiple needs and
integrate a variety of written, visual, and oral elements of design

How will my grade be calculated?
Portfolio: 65%
Daily work and writing: 20%
Class engagement: 15%

Final grades will be computed according to the following scale:
A+ 97-100 B+ 87-89 C+ 77-79 D+ 67-69 F 59 and below
A 93-96 B 83-86 C 73-76 D 63-66
A- 90-92 B- 80-82 C- 70-72 D- 60-62

What is the portfolio?
In the portfolio, you will represent your development as a writer and your learning process over
the course of the semester. The portfolio, which ultimately will contain a reflective essay and the
final drafts of the major writing assignments, will count for the bulk of your class grade and will be
evaluated as a whole.

For each assignment, you will produce at least two drafts. Your peers will give you feedback on the
first draft, and I will respond to the revised second draft. You may continue to revise any paper
until you feel it is ready for the portfolio; feel free to confer with me as often as you like.

Please save everything you do for this class—not just your major writing assignments with my
comments on them but also other writing assignments, peer review sheets that you give to and
receive from your peers, reading responses with my comments, notes, etc. Some of these you may
need to include in your portfolio, and some you may want to include. I will provide guidelines for
your assembling and my grading of the portfolio later in the semester.

What is the “daily work and writing” grade?
This grade tracks that you have submitted your work on time and done the assignment completely.
Assignments include reading responses, major writing assignments, in-class writing, peer reviews,
and group-process documents (e.g., team charters, agendas, task lists).

What is the “class engagement” grade?
Each class period aims to contribute to your development as a writer. Since much of our time will
be devoted to collaborative activities such as discussions of the readings and of the writing
assignments, you owe it to yourself and your classmates to be present, on time, and involved. This
grade therefore includes attendance and promptness, a willingness to collaborate with your peers,
and thoughtful contributions to class.

You cannot get an A in class engagement if you have 6-8 unexcused absences (see below for
definition of excused absences) or if you regularly do any of the following things:
 are distracted during whole-class discussions
 exhibit apathy or distractedness during small-group work
 use electronic devices for non-course-related matters
 fall asleep
 do not complete the homework or in-class writing
 forget your readings or book
 arrive late

What absences will be excused?
Religious holidays, events at which you are representing the UofL, and emergencies will count as
excused if you notify me accordingly:

Event How to get the absence excused
Religious holiday You must submit a written request during the first
two weeks of the semester
University-sanctioned event (e.g., competition, performance,
conference where you are representing the UofL)
You must submit a written request from your
organization at least two weeks in advance
An emergency (e.g., death in the family, medical appointment) You must notify me as soon as possible and
provide some kind of written documentation

What are the consequences of unexcused absences?
I am obligated to follow the Composition Program’s guidelines. With six unexcused absences—
equivalent to missing two weeks of class—you cannot get an A in the class engagement grade.
However, if you have nine unexcused absences—equivalent to missing three weeks of class—you
will fail the class. (Yes, the class, not the class engagement grade.)

What should I do if I miss class?
If you have to miss class, whether excused or unexcused, I expect you to submit any homework on
Blackboard and find out from your peers what you missed. Missed in-class assignments cannot be
made up. Please do not email me to ask what you missed; it is your responsibility to get that
information from your classmates. (You may email me, however, if you have further questions
about this in-class work.)

What if I’m running late to class?
We will start promptly every day, so I expect you to arrive a few minutes before class is scheduled
to begin. If you’re running late, just try to get to class as soon as you can. Regular tardiness,
however, will affect your class engagement grade.

What if I need an extension on a homework assignment?
There will be short homework assignments nearly every day, so I will not accept late homework or
give extensions. If you are struggling to meet the daily demands, please see me to discuss possible

What if I need an extension on a formal writing assignment?
Please email me for an extension at least 24 hours before the deadline. (Make sure you get a reply
from me; don’t assume that just sending the email will grant you the extension.) I will consider
extensions on a case-by-case basis. If you’re having trouble keeping up with a particular
assignment, please see me to discuss possible solutions.

If you turn in a late assignment without having received an extension, I will deduct points from your
daily work and writing grade for that assignment. If it’s one day late, I will deduct half of the points;
if it’s later than that, you will get 0 points.

What if I have computer problems?
I recommend that you regularly email your work to yourself or use a service like Dropbox
(https://www.dropbox.com/), which automatically backs up your files online. Since you have these
options, I will not excuse late work because of computer crashes or Internet problems.

How can I communicate with you?
Check your email regularly for updates or information about the class. Feel free to email me about
anything; I will try to respond within 24 hours. If you email me on the weekend, I will try to
respond within 24 hours but cannot guarantee a response before Monday morning.

What’s your policy on plagiarism?
Plagiarism is defined by the university as “representing the words or ideas of someone else as one’s
own in any academic exercise.” It includes having someone else write your paper for you,
submitting the same assignment for more than one class, and inappropriately quoting,
paraphrasing, and citing sources. (You can read more in Sections 5 and 6 of the Code of Student
Rights and Responsibilities:

We will discuss how to avoid accidental plagiarism in class, and you should always feel free to
contact me if you are confused. However, if I find evidence that you have deliberately plagiarized, I
will have to report the case to the Arts and Sciences Dean’s office and penalize you, which could
involve a failing grade for the course.

Visit the Writing Center’s online workshop for more information on avoiding plagiarism:

What kind of behavior do you expect in the classroom?
A writing classroom should be a comfortable space for writers and thinkers. Together, we want to
build an environment that’s conducive to discussion and risk-taking. As a result, it’s vital that you
respect your peers’ ideas and feelings, even when you disagree. Language or conduct that is
inappropriate, inconsiderate, or prejudiced has no place in a college classroom. If your behavior
becomes disruptive or distracting, I may ask you to leave class, and you will not be able to make up
any missed work.

What’s your electronic device policy?
Please turn off or silence your phone before class. There are times, however, when I may ask you to
use your phone in class, e.g., to take a picture of something and post it to Blackboard.

You are welcome to bring your laptop to class, but please stay on task; you will lose class
engagement points if you check email, Facebook, etc. I may ask you to close your laptop if there
is no need to use them. For that reason, you should always bring paper or a notebook.

Where can I go for additional help with my research and writing?
Writing Center: http://louisville.edu/writingcenter
The Writing Center is a free service for all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff.
Highly trained consultants will meet with you for 50 minutes to discuss any stage of the writing
process—brainstorming, organizing your essay, refining your argument, identifying patterns of
error, etc. To make an appointment, go to their website or call 852-2173.

Ekstrom Library: http://louisville.edu/library/ekstrom/
The librarians are eager to help you find and evaluate sources for your research. If you have
questions, you can visit during their office hours or even live-chat with them.

What if I have a grievance?
If you have questions or concerns about your progress in this course, please do not hesitate to see
me. If you are not satisfied with our discussion, you can meet with an assistant director of the
English Composition Program (Humanities 319F, 502-852-5919).

Other campus resources
Disability Resource Center: http://louisville.edu/disability/
If you have a disability or condition that may impair your ability to complete assignments, please
inform me about it no later than the second week of the semester (or as soon as your disability or
condition is diagnosed). I encourage you to meet with me to identify, discuss, and document any
feasible accommodations. If you haven’t already, you should also contact the Disabilities Resource
Center (Robbins Hall, 852-6938).

Major due dates and events
I will announce daily reading and writing assignments in class and post them to Blackboard.
Deadlines for major writing assignments, as well as some other relevant dates, are listed below.
If this schedule changes, I will notify you as soon as possible.

Monday, 9/1: No class (Labor Day)
Friday, 9/12: Revision of assignment 1 due

Monday, 10/6: No class (Fall Break)
Wednesday, 10/8-Tuesday, 10/14: Midterm conferences with Andrea (Required)
Monday, 10/13: Revision of assignment 2 due
Monday, 10/20: No class (Andrea out of town)
Thursday, 10/23: Last day to withdraw

Monday, 11/10: Revision of assignment 3 due
Friday, 11/14: No class (Andrea out of town)
Tuesday, 11/25: Revision of assignment 4 due
Wednesday, 11/26 and Friday, 11/28: No class (Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, 12/2-Friday, 12/5: Portfolio conferences with Andrea (Required)
Monday, 12/8: Assignment 5 (portfolio) due