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English 105 -- Technical Communication

Eric Sonstroem

If you intend to enter the working world after you leave Pacific, this may be the most important course you will take . . .

While this course is ideal for those planning to enter a technical field, anyone planning to enter the workforce will find this class quite valuable. I emphasize practical skills that help you communicate in a clear, concise, and persuasive way--"make or break" skills for any professional career. This is more than just a writing class; you will learn oral communication skills for both formal and informal situations. You will learn a variety of electronic communication skills too, from using presentation software effectively to creating cool, easy-to-use web sites. (Computer illiterate people are welcome. We'll start from the ground up, and you'll be amazed at how fun and easy it can be.) Assignments will be based on real-world communication problems from your intended career.

The "Student Learning Outcomes" of this course include:

  • Students will develop their facility with the forms of communication--interviews, job letters, resumes, memos, reports, poster session presentations, idea workshops, meetings, electronic hyperlinked documents, etc.--that a student will encounter when on the job.
  • Students will demonstrate the effective application of organizational patterns--definition, technical description, process explanation, etc.--in the structuring of technical and professional information.
  • Students will become aware of the differences among audiences, and develop practical strategies for presenting material to different audiences.
  • Students will improve their ability to locate technical information and assess its accuracy.
  • Students will reinforce their teaming skills through Peer Editing Workshops.
  • Students will learn to use various technologies to aid communication and document design.
  • Students will develop and refine their written, oral, and electronic communication skills, including document testing.
  • Students will master the skills to develop a significant professional document.

These goals will be achieved through the practice of writing and speaking within "cases"--fictional situations that closely parallel actual workplace situations and problems. In this way, a student may apply technical communication strategies in a manner that is directly relevant to his or her professional life after graduation.  These cases will feed into a substantial final project in the student's area of professional interest.

The English Department Program Level objectives that this course addresses include "students will develop professional and creative writing skills" and "students will successfully adapt their communication styles to the occasion, task, and audience."