As a technical communicator, I am the bridge between those who create ideas and those who use them. Because I recognize that the quality of my services directly affects how well ideas are understood, I am committed to excellence in performance and the highest standards of ethical behavior.

"Code for Communicators," Society for Technical Communication, 1988 

Technical Writing

Fall, '12-13; 3:00 pm-3:50 pm, MWF
Lawrence Souder, Ph.D.

Voice: 215-895-2730

Classroom: MacAlister 4016

Office Hours: Creese Cafe, MWF, 2:00-2:50 pm

Office: Building #47, Room 323



This course will guide you in exploring the conventions of the various genres of technical writing. In particular it will provide the means for determining what features distinguish one genre from another, how each of these genres is composed, and why they are so designed. Once you have defined these conventions generically, you will explore them in your specific area of work. Ultimately you will use these conventions for developing your own rhetorical processes to write effectively and ethically in technical settings. Among the genres of technical writing to be considered are: correspondence, instructions, proposals, and reports. This course articulates with other courses in the Department of Culture and Communication such as COM 230 (Public Speaking), COM 330 (Professional Presentations), and COM 311 (Interpersonal Communication).


If you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:


Grading: The final grade in this course will be computed as follows:

20% = quizzes, peer commentaries, and class participation
20% = Project 1
20% = Project 2
20% = Project 3
20% = Project 4

The writing samples produced for this class become the primary basis for your grade and will constitute a portfolio that you can also use for career development in the field. By the end of the course your portfolio will include a sample of technical correspondence, instructions, proposals, and reports. The grading of written assignments will be based on content, form, style, and mechanics.


You are expected to attend all classes. Attendance is important to your progress and your classmates'. Much of what you learn will come from discussions and interactions with your fellow students. You may miss three class meetings without penalty. Each additional absence of any kind will reduce your final grade by one letter increment.

Classroom Comportment:

Many of the classroom activities for this course will revolve around face-to-face dialogue between student and teacher and between student and student. For that reason your attention to the conversations during class time must be undistracted. Moreover, as students of communication you must be sensitive to importance of non-verbal cues. If you text or attend to your laptop during class, you will give the impression that you are not interested in what is being said. Please do not use any personal electronic devices while you are in class. If a personal emergency requires you to attend to your cellphone, please discreetly excuse yourself from the room.


Late written assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each class day late. No makeups for quizzes or exams are available.

Academic Honesty:

It is assumed that the work you submit for this course, whether written or spoken, is your own. Any attempt to represent someone else's work as your own will be considered plagiarism--a form of academic misconduct. For more clarification on plagiarism, see Drexel's Student Handbook.

Plagiarism includes copying another student's work on papers or tests, copying without attribution the ideas or words from published sources, and submitting papers written in previous semesters. Such academic misconduct will result in a failing grade for the assignment, a probable failing grade for the course, and a report to the Dean for possible disciplinary action. Be advised that internet services such as EVE 2.3 and make the detection of plagiarism easy.


Each class meeting will require you to prepare a reading and a writing assignment. See the Schedule of Events for details. Click on the chapter designators for study guide questions to help you focus on the key concepts. Expect a short quiz on each chapter as a check of your understanding of the concepts. Click on the draft and project designators for specific details on the writing assignments.

This course presumes you have successfully completed English composition or its equivalent. All written assignments should be typed and should conform to standard American English. Your resources for writing the assignments should include an English composition handbook. Also, consider some of the resources for writers on the internet including Purdue's writing center and Strunk's Elements of Style.

Special Needs

Students with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVLs are issued by the Office of Disability Services (ODS). For additional information, contact the ODS at, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299.

Other resources for students with special needs are available from the following: