RE: Tech writing course in vo-tech curriculum

Subject: RE: Tech writing course in vo-tech curriculum
From: Margaret FalerSweany <pfalersweany -at- CoServ -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 16:05:57 -0600

I second a composition course as a prerequisite especially if the topics is
this ambitious and even more so if the students are first-year or sophomore
students. I just finished teaching two sections of technical writing to
computer science and electrical engineering students. Unfortunately, there
were a few first-year students in the courses who struggled all term because
they lacked basic writing skills (focusing, developing, providing coherence,
and mechanics) that they can learn in a composition course but I lacked time
to cover to the extent they needed. However, their real obstacle was a lack
of discipline knowledge. It's difficult to write about a debugger or a
circuit design when you haven't even finished learning the basics of
programming in Java and are struggling with your circuits course.

I agree with Nora that a tech writing course that requires students connect
their writing to their disciplinary interests in a real way makes their
writing more accurate and richer. They even write for the appropriate
audiences/users instead of the teacher.

If the school wants to "fast track" students because of a limited number of
credit hours, perhaps a "pretest" would identify those students who are
ready for the fast-paced technical writing course and those who need a more
basic writing course like first-year comp.? Life experience can make a big
difference on whether a student can write well-students who have been
working may have learned a lot about writing on the job and can do well in a
demanding course.

Thunder is good. Thunder is impressive,
but it's lightening that does the work.
Mark Twain to Nikola Tesla
Margaret L. FalerSweany, Ph.D.
Inst. of Professional and Technical Communication
University of Texas--Dallas
Richardson, TX 75083
falersweany -at- gocougs -dot- wsu -dot- edu

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RE: Tech writing course in vo-tech curriculum: From: Nora Merhar

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