English 3764 covers the principles and procedure of technical communication. This writing-intensive course focuses attention on analyzing audience and purpose, organizing information, designing graphics, and writing such specialized forms as correspondence, instructions, and proposals. Junior standing is required.

The course is based on a process approach to writing and asks you to brainstorm and research topics, to write drafts, and to revise your writing based on reflection and peer feedback. As you read and respond to one another’s papers, you will learn an important step in addressing readers’ concerns. Your writing is taken seriously, and you are asked to engage seriously with your peers’ writing as well.


By completing English 3764, you will…

  • Gain knowledge of technical communication’s rhetorical dimensions.
  • Learn to distinguish between effective and ineffective technical documents.
  • Practice writing as a process by using various brainstorming, invention, revision, and editing strategies.
  • Write in several technical genres that utilize analysis, narrative, critique, persuasion, and argument skills.
  • Practice using the conventions of written, spoken, and visual composition.
  • Gain an understanding of the role of social media and visual rhetoric in technical communications.
  • Write and create texts in digital environments.

Required Resources

Course Requirements

You must complete all major assignments and requirements in order to pass this course. Your final grade is calculated on this distribution:


Three major assignment units, along with related drafts and other artifacts. These assignments will be collections of documents (e.g., letters, memos, reports). Assignments will vary in length, depending on the topic and the task, and can include required visual and multimodal aspects. For each major assignment unit, you will be asked to submit preliminary drafts to be discussed in small groups, by the whole class, and/or by me. You should plan to revise these assignments extensively before the due date.


Participation, homework, and a minimum of 20 pages of in-class writing. You will write (usually in Scholar) during each class. These daily writing activities include correspondence, reading responses, forum postings, and reflections. You will read and provide thoughtful, substantive feedback on your peers’ work. You will have one required conference with me that counts in this portion of your grade.


One 10–15 minute group oral presentation including the use of visual elements. You will prepare a presentation that includes visual and multimodal aspects. You will have time to work on this presentation during class, but will likely need to work with your collaborators outside of class as well. You will provide documentation of your participation in the collaborative work and provide thoughtful, substantive feedback on your peers’ presentations.


Communication Guidelines: Email is the best way to contact me. You can email me at tengrrl at vt dot edu. I do not respond to students at any other address. Because I will be teaching, it is difficult to respond from 8 AM to 4 PM MWF. I try to respond to student emails within 24 hours on weekdays and within 48 hours on weekends and holidays. I’ll reply to messages sent during Thanksgiving Break on December 1 and 2.

Absences: Class attendance and participation are required. If you are not in class, you will not be able to participate and your grade will suffer. If you miss a class because of an illness, death in the family, or family emergency, see the Absence Verification FAQs from the Dean of Students Office for details on how to have your absence excused.

If you have an issue that affects your ability to complete the course, you may qualify for Academic Relief. For personal medical issues, contact the Schiffert Health Center, and for psychiatric or psychological issues, contact the Cook Counseling Center.

Work Guidelines: All work and participation in this course is governed by the Undergraduate Honor System and the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.

Late Policy: Every class period, you will complete writing-related activities that you will submit using Scholar. This work is due during your class period and will count as part of your participation grade. This work is relevant to the activities that will take place in the class session, so it cannot be made up if you miss the session.

You will also compose major assignment units, which will be posted in Scholar. Each unit will have a due date, a grace period, and a deadline:

  • A due date is the day that your major assignment unit is due. Every student has a one-week grace period after the due date during which the assignment unit can still be submitted.
  • The grace period occurs between the due date and the deadline. Work submitted during the grace period will be marked as late in Scholar. There is no grade penalty for work submitted during the grace period; however, we will not work on the assignments in class after the due date nor will I be available to provide substantial feedback on your work in progress or final submission after the due date. 
  • A deadline comes one week after the due dates and is the final day that an assignment will be accepted. After the deadline, Scholar closes the assignment, and you will no longer be able to submit your work. You will receive a zero for any work that is not submitted by the deadline. There are no extensions on deadlines.

Backups: Save backups of all your work for this class and maintain backups in multiple places (your laptop, a flash drive, Google Docs, your Va Tech Drop Box). Printed backups can also be useful. Do not discard any files, notes, or other work until the term is over and you have received your final grade. Be sure that you maintain backups so that you can continue your work when you encounter computer problems. If you need assistance with your computer, check with InnovationSpace or Customer Support Center (4Help).

Equal Access and Opportunity: If you need special accommodations in this course, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in 310 Lavery Hall (above the Turner Place Dining Center) as soon as possible to ensure that you have the resources you need to participate in the class. I am happy to work with the SSD staff to make sure that you have the support you need.

Grading: Specific rubrics and grading guidelines will be provided for each assignment.

Grade Scale


A  94–100
A- 90–93

Excellent, outstanding work that

  • exceeds requirements for the assignment.
  • demonstrates originality and mastery of the objectives or material.
  • addresses audience, purpose, and voice with expertise through the savvy use of rhetorical strategies.
  • contains no errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

B+ 87–89
B  84–86
B- 80–83

Good to very good work that

  • meets all requirements for the assignment.
  • demonstrates above-average insight and a thorough understanding of the objectives or material.
  • addresses audience, purpose, and voice well with the appropriate use of specific rhetorical strategies.
  • contains only minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

C+ 77–79
C 74–76
C- 70–73

Satisfactory or fair work that

  • meets most of the requirements for the assignment.
  • demonstrates a basic understanding of the objectives or material, but relies on generic or predictable techniques.
  • addresses most aspects of audience, purpose, and voice with rhetorically-appropriate strategies.
  • contains several minor errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

D+ 67–69
D 64–66
D- 60–63

Fair to poor work that

  • meets some, but not all, of the requirements for the assignment.
  • demonstrates a partial understanding of the objectives or material.
  • addresses some aspects of audience, purpose, and voice, and/or inconsistently uses rhetorical strategies.
  • contains one or two major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

F 59 and below

Unacceptable work that is flawed by one or more of the following characteristics:

  • does not meet the requirements of the assignment.
  • demonstrates little understanding of the objectives or material.
  • fails to address audience, purpose, and/or voice and/or uses rhetorical strategies incompletely or incorrectly.
  • contains several major errors in grammar, spelling, or mechanics.

Tentative Schedule

A tentative schedule of due dates, deadlines, and class readings and activities will be posted on the Scholar site. The schedule is subject to change. It is your responsibility to log into Scholar the day before each class session for updates and changes to the course schedule. Pay attention to the calendar and announcements for relevant details.

Leave a Reply