Description and Policies

Course information

Course number: ENGL 605
Course name: Professional Writing Theory and Research
Term and year: Fall 2016
CRN: 87005
Professor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Prof. email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Office location: 231 Colson
Office hours: Tue. 12p–1p, Wed. 2p–3p

Course description

In this course we will examine the historical development of professional and technical communication, including historical and contemporary debates in the field, pedagogical approaches to professional and technical writing, its relation to rhetoric and composition studies, and qualitative and quantitative methods for conducting professional and technical writing research. While the course is designed for students in the Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) program, it is ideal for all students who wish to teach courses in professional or technical communication or otherwise expand their understanding the theory, practices, and research methods of rhetoric and professional communicators.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will

  • Know the theories that inform and validate the practices of academics and professionals working in the broad field of professional communication.
  • Comprehend the similarities, differences, and disputes regarding definitions for professional, technical, and business communication.
  • Evaluate the role of ethics in the professional communication classroom and workplace.
  • Analyze critical approaches to the uses of technology in the professional communication classroom and workplace.
  • Apply theories of professional communication to classroom pedagogies for English 304: Business and Professional Writing and English 305: Technical Writing.
  • Identify qualitative and quantitative methods for conducting professional and technical communication research.


Required texts

  • Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber (2013), Solving Problems in Technical Communication. U. of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0-226-92407-6
  • Additional readings will be provided by the instructor

Other requirements


  • An automated backup service for your data like Google Drive or Dropbox, and
  • services for tracking your research, like Evernote for note-taking, Delicious for tracking Web sources, and Zotero or RefWorks for managing research and formatting citations.

Work visibility

Due to the nature of the course, you will be sharing your work with your fellow classmates as part of presentations and workshops. Additionally, you will share your work with me and your classmates using Web services  (e.g., via the Google Apps related to your MIX account). By taking this course, you are indicating that you accept these requirements. If you have any questions about these requirements, please contact me immediately.

Attendance and late work

You are expected to attend every class meeting, arriving on time and staying for the duration of the meeting. While there will be no excused absences for the course, you will be allowed one absence without penalty. The penalty for absences over the allowed limit may be up to one letter grade for each absence.

Any work submitted after it is due will be reduced one letter grade for each calendar day it is late. If you miss a presentation due to an unavoidable emergency, we will try to reschedule it, if possible. However, such rescheduling is not guaranteed, and you should make every effort to be present when you are required to present.