Course Syllabus

English 235: Technical Writing

#1087, Summer 2018

Instructor: Cara Diaconoff      

E-mail: <>

Phone: (425) 564-2341 (leave message)  

Office location: R230

Office Hours: Wed. 1-3 p.m. (Pacific) (online—email me to alert me that you would like to meet via Canvas Chat, ConexEd Cranium Café, or Skype)

Course Information

This course provides practice in the fundamentals of professional and technical writing. Students will become familiar with currently accepted ideas and techniques regarding audience analysis, research, ethical considerations, design, and writing of technical documents including reports, proposals, instructional pieces, memos, resumes, and cover letters. 

Course Outcomes

After completing this class, students should be able to:

  • Write documents such as summaries, instruction manuals, analyses, proposals, and research reports, using accepted professional formats
  • Design a research strategy to solve a specific problem for a specific client
  • Conduct secondary and primary research
  • Propose a clearly reasoned, convincingly supported solution to a client's problem
  • Paraphrase, summarize, and quote information with integrity and documentsources accurately, following the accepted form for the field of inquiry
  • Design visually effective documents and presentations
  • Revise and edit to improve clarity, economy, and rhetorical effectiveness

How Outcomes Will be Met

Outcomes will be met through completion of a final project, consisting of the student’s choice of a project or goods-and-services proposal, a recommendation report, or instructional manual or article on a technical topic of their choosing. Students will also complete shorter (500-750 words) exercises, which may consist of memos to the instructor about progress on the final project (aka “project milestones”) or analysis of other assigned questions: approximately one per week. Students will also complete twice- or thrice-weekly discussion posts on assigned reading from the textbook.


Final Project 35%

Exercises (memos, final-project milestones) 35% (total)

Completion of homework discussion posts 30%

The College Grading Policy is explained in the current Course Catalog and can also be found at this link: Grading Policy

Books and Materials Required

Mike Markel, Practical Strategies for Technical Communication, 2nd edition

Help with Canvas

Students can find help with Canvas by following the link here: Student Canvas Help

Course Policies


The online elements of this course are designed to be welcoming to, accessible to, and usable by everyone, including students who are English-language learners, have a variety of learning styles, have disabilities, or are new to online learning. Be sure to let me know immediately if you encounter a required element or resource in the course that is not accessible to you. Also, let me know of changes I can make to the course so that it is more welcoming to, accessible to, or usable by students who take this course in the future.

Affirmation of Inclusion

Bellevue College is committed to maintaining an environment in which every member of the campus community feels welcome to participate in the life of the college, free from harassment and discrimination.

We value our different backgrounds at Bellevue College, and students, faculty, staff members, and administrators are to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Affirmation of Inclusion (

Undocumented Students

Students who are undocumented citizens in the United States face special challenges, especially at the current political moment. Consideration will be given to any undocumented student, or student with immediate family members who are undocumented, who faces obstacles in completing their work or attending class because of stress related to the undocumented status. If you fall into either of these categories and are concerned about the potential effect on your performance in the course, please come to my office hours or make an appointment with me to discuss your situation. Anything you tell me will be held in confidence. Every student, no matter their status, is entitled to an equitable chance to learn and succeed in their courses.

Religious Holidays

Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or any other assignments because of their religious observance should be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent, preferably at the beginning of the term. Students who are absent on days of examinations or class assignments should be offered an opportunity to make up the work without penalty (if they have previously arranged to be absent), unless it can be demonstrated that a makeup opportunity would constitute an unreasonable burden on a member of the faculty. Should disagreement arise over what constitutes an unreasonable burden or any element of this policy, parties involved should consult the department chair or Dean.

Policy 2950 Accommodations for Reasons of Faith or Conscience (

College Anti-Discrimination Statement

Bellevue College does not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity; creed; color; national origin; sex; marital status; sexual orientation; age; religion; genetic information; the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability; or veteran status in educational programs and activities which it operates. Bellevue College is prohibited from discriminating in such a manner by college policy and by state and federal law. All college personnel and persons, vendors, and organizations with whom the college does business are required to comply with applicable federal and state statutes and regulations designed to promote affirmative action and equal opportunity.

Find the statement online at the following link: Equal Opportunity

Spanish and Chinese versions of the anti-discrimation statement are available at Important Links.

Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting

As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work, and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep information you share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I am required to share with the Title IX Coordinator any and all information regarding sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct (e.g. dating violence, domestic violence, stalking) that may have occurred on campus or that impacts someone on campus. Students may speak to someone confidentially by contacting the BC Counseling Center at (425) 564-2212. The Title IX Office can be contacted at 425-564-2641 and more information can be found at Title IX (

If you have any concerns, you may report to: Report Concerns (

Arts & Humanities Division—Student Information

 See the following links for Arts & Humanities Division policies:

  1. Student Procedures & Expectations (revised 9/23/2016)
  2. Arts & Humanities Commitment to Student Growth and Development
  3. Arts & Humanities Division Organizational Chart

 PLEASE NOTE: If you have any questions regarding your class, for example, grade received, instructor issues, unfair work assignments, do the following in order. FIRST SPEAK TO:

  1. The instructor of the class
  2. The Department Chair
  3. The Division Dean

 Please read your Student Handbook before taking action on issues.



In this asynchronous online course, roll call attendance is not taken as it is for face-to-face class meetings. Instead, twice- or thrice-weekly discussion posts will count for a larger proportion (30% total) of the course grade. Discussion posts will usually close for responses after their announced deadline has passed. Missing more than two of these is likely to negatively affect a student's final course grade.


Late Work

As indicated above, most late discussion posts cannot be accepted at all. Similarly, the final-exam/final-project submission deadline at the end of the quarter is firm. In the case of the “Memos & Milestones” assignments, late submissions may be lowered a quarter of a grade for each day late.



The worst academic offenses in the U.S. are cheating and plagiarism. For this class, that means:


  • Don’t turn in an assignment someone else wrote.


  • Don’t let someone else (your best friend, your mother, etc.) do a lot of rewriting or proofreading for you, although it’s certainly acceptable to get general feedback and more than acceptable—in fact, encouraged—to seek the help of tutors at the Academic Success Center. The basic guideline is that every sentence in the essay should have been composed by you and no one else.
  • Don’t copy phrases or sentences from books, articles, or the Internet into your papers. If I discover that you have copied phrases or sentences from another source, the paper could earn a 0 with no possibilities for revision. We’ll talk in class about how to use sources ethically.


This link provides a good, short summary of how to avoid plagiarism: Avoiding Plagiarism


This 22-minute video also provides a good overview of how to avoid trouble when using sources: From the college home page select SERVICES, then LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER, then DATABASES, then FILMS ON DEMAND. At their site, search by title for PLAGIARISM 2.0: ETHICS IN THE DIGITAL AGE.


Student Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity

Any act of academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism (using the ideas or words of another as one’s own without crediting the source), and fabrication and inappropriate/disruptive classroom behavior are violations of the Student Code of Conduct at Bellevue College. Examples of unacceptable behavior include, but are not limited to, talking out of turn, arriving late or leaving early without a valid reason, allowing cell phones/pagers to ring, and inappropriate behavior toward the instructor or classmates. The instructor can refer any violation of the Student Code of Conduct to the Dean of Student Success for investigation. Specific student rights, responsibilities, and appeal procedures are listed in the Student Code of Conduct at: Student Code

Important Links

See "Important Links” page online for more information about BC E-mail, access to MyBC, the Disability Resource Center (DRC), Public Safety, the Academic Calendar, the Academic Success Center, and more.

Disability Resource Center (DRC)

The Disability Resource Center serves students with disabilities.  A disability includes any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Common disabilities include physical, neurological (e.g. Autism, ADD), and mental health (e.g. depression, anxiety). If you are a student who has a disability or if you think you may need accommodations in order to have equal access to programs, activities, and services, please contact the DRC.

If you require assistance in an emergency, please meet with your individual instructors to develop a safety plan for while in class and contact the DRC to develop a safety plan for while you are elsewhere on campus.

If you are a student with a documented autism spectrum disorder, there is an additional access program available to you. Contact Autism Spectrum Navigators (ASN).  Email and phone number is on the web page. ASN is located in the Library Media Center in D125. 

The DRC office is located in building B132.  You can contact the DRC by stopping by B132, calling our desk at 425-564-2498, emailing, and Deaf students can reach us by Skype (account name DRCatBC).  For more information about the services we offer, including our Initial Access Application, visit our website at

Final Exam Schedule

No in-person final exam will be given in the course.

Course Calendar

All work should be submitted on Canvas by 11:59 p.m. on the due date listed.

Week 1

Tues., July 3: Post a self-introduction in Discussions. 

Fri., July 6: Read Chapter 1 ("Introduction to Technical Communication") in textbook. Due: Exercise 3, p. 16, as discussion post. 

Week 2

Mon., July 9: Read Chapter 2 ("Understanding Ethical and Legal Obligations") in textbook. Due as discussion post: Exercise 2, p. 32. In addition, upload an example of a piece of published technical writing that you either find effective or ineffective. It may be a piece from a workplace where you have worked or one you encountered as a consumer.

Wed., July 11: Read Chapter 3 ("Writing Collaboratively"). Skim Appendix: Reference Handbook (beginning on p. 449). Peer groups assigned. Final Project formally assigned. Due as discussion post: Begin to brainstorm ideas for topics for Final Project.

Fri., July 13: Read Chapter 11 ("Writing Proposals") in textbook. Due: discussion post on proposal genre. 

Week 3

Mon., July 16: Due by 11:59 p.m.: Team Exercise (#4, pp. 32-33), as Memo 1. Collaborate with your peer group to produce and submit it. Each group member will receive the same grade as the rest of the group on any collaborative assignments.

Wed., July 18: Read Chapters 12 and 13 ("Writing Informational Reports" and "Writing Recommendation Reports"). Due as discussion post: Exercise 2, p. 385.

Fri., July 20: Due: Project Proposal memo (Memo 2) to instructor (see Exercise 3, pp. 316-317).

Week 4

Mon., July 23: Read Chapter 4 ("Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose"). Due: Exercise 1, p. 77, as Memo 3 (rewrite a technical passage for a general audience).

Wed., July 25: Due as discussion post: Exercise 2, p. 77.

Fri., July 27: Due by 11:59 p.m.: final-project progress report as Memo 4 to instructor. Progress report should incorporate comments and ideas from peer group (see prompt in Canvas Assignments for more information).

Week 5

Mon., July 30: Read Chapter 5 ("Researching Your Subject"). Due: Exercises 4 and 5, p. 106, as discussion posts.

Wed., Aug. 1: Read Chapter 14 ("Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions"). Due: Exercises 1-3 (pp. 421-422) and assigned scenario response (see prompt in Canvas Assignments).

Fri., Aug. 3: Read Chapter 6 (chapter on style). Due: Exercises 4, 5, and 8-17 (pp. 153-155) as discussion posts (1 point for each separate exercise). 

Week 6

Mon., Aug. 6: Read Chapter 7 ("Designing Print and Online Documents"). Due: Exercise 4, p. 196, as discussion post. 

Wed., Aug. 8: Read Chapter 8, and then evaluate two examples of published graphic images (see prompt in Canvas Assignments).

Fri., Aug. 10: Due: Exercise 6, p. 422, as Memo 5 (instructions for completing a technical procedure).

Sun., Aug. 12: Due by 11:59 p.m.: Final-Project Rough Draft.

Week 7

Sign up for a required 20-minute conference with instructor on your final-project rough draft, to be held Monday and Tuesday, this week.

Mon., Aug. 13: Due: Exercise 6, p. 291 (given credit as “Memo 6”--a sample job-application cover letter and resume).

Tues., Aug. 14: Due: Peer Review Discussion Summary as Memo 7.

Thurs., Aug. 16, by 11:59 p.m.: Final draft of Final Project due to instructor.


No final exam will be given in the course. Happy rest of summer!

Course Summary:

Date Details Due