AT Waterloo, we have a technical communication course that both our
majors and students outside the department can take. So we do have
science and social science as well as rhetoric students in the course.
It's a second year course with as many as a 100 students.
On Mon, 9 Oct 1995, Margaret Procter wrote:
> Colleagues --
> What Canadian precedents are there for composition or
> technical writing courses aimed at science and social-science students?
> There is some interest in the big undergraduate Arts and Science
> faculty in setting up such instruction at the
> third- or fourth-year level, and we need to learn from others'
> experience. (One of our suburban colleges does have a Professional
> Writing Programme that is very popular among students but insecure in
> its funding.)
> I'd welcome answers to the following questions--and to any others
> I should have asked.
> 1. What genres and rhetorical situations do existing courses focus on?
> Are they about writing to others in the same field of study, or to
You've hit the heart of the problem here. It's very difficult to create
a context for such courses so that students can write to non-experts for
example. It's also hellishly difficult to invent difficult content that
students could then work with and convey to non-experts. My best shot
was a version of the course wherein I turned the course into a business,
The Innovative Development Group. I was the CEO and the TA's were
managers. In groups the students task was to begin developing a product
or service of use to the U of Waterloo. The situation itself generated
genres like memos, progress reports, prototype marketing material,
prototype descriptions and procedures for products/services and a
feasability report. During the course we kept folding in the techniques
they would need for different stages of the project--page design, copy
> 2. Who teaches them? Do disciplinary specialists and writing
> specialists ever co-teach such courses?
Well, I taught it so I guess I am a writing specialist.
> 3. If they are optional, what kinds of students do they attract?
The course is required for our students; optional for others. Students
from all disciplines took it.
> 4. Do they help or hinder efforts towards WAC?
I'm not sure. In our case technical communication is a focus for the
programme. I would love to explore the possibility of developing the
course though in conjunction with someone from Engineering or the
Mixing students from both sides of the divide would profit both--and
some great assignments might emerge.
> > > Margaret Procter
> Coordinator, Writing Support
> University of Toronto
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