Intro to PTW emphasizes writing technical and professional communications for defined audiences, purposes, and situations. The course introduces students to genre analysis strategies and fast prototyping as ways of matching writing and documents to contextual and audience needs. Students put document design principles and strategies into action as they work on both individual and group projects. Throughout the course they practice the major stages of many professional and technical projects: proposals, progress reports, reports of findings, and usability testing of documents.
Below, I’ve included the four major project modules of the course.
Team Research Report: I introduce the team project early in the semester and students continue to work on it throughout the course. I give time in each class period for groups to confer. At regular intervals, groups set up meetings with me to present progress reports. At the end of the semester, groups present their findings to the class as a whole.
Instructions: Students write multi-step instructions with a visual component. As part of the instruction-writing process, students conduct usability tests, asking multiple people to try out the instructions while the writer observes and takes notes.
Memo: Students write several memos to different audiences in a hypothetical professional setting— to a subordinate, a peer, and a supervisor; each memo addresses the same issue, but focuses on the needs and action items relevant to the target audience.
Job Application Packet: Students research jobs or internships they would like to apply to; I encourage them to choose openings they would actually like to apply to in the near future. The learn the conventions and ways of formatting a job inquiry letter, resume, and transmittal document (an email containing digital attachments).