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Twin Cities Campus

Technical Writing and Communication Minor

Writing Studies Department
College of Liberal Arts
  • Program Type: Undergraduate minor related to major
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2022
  • Required credits in this minor: 16
The minor provides theoretical and practical information about how to communicate complex technical information to various audiences. Students select additional elective courses (e.g., written communication, visual communication, digital technologies, and usability) to complement their career plans. For help in planning the minor, contact the Assistant Director of the Technical Writing and Communication Program in the Department of Writing Studies in 202 Nolte Center.
Program Delivery
This program is available:
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Minor Requirements
Students may earn a BS, a minor, or a certificate in technical writing and communication, but none of these may be combined.
Core Courses
Take exactly 2 course(s) totaling exactly 7 credit(s) from the following:
· WRIT 3441 - Editing, Critique, and Style (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3562W - Technical and Professional Writing [WI] (4.0 cr)
or WRIT 3562V - Honors: Technical and Professional Writing [WI] (4.0 cr)
Electives
Take 3 or more course(s) totaling 9 or more credit(s) from the following:
· WRIT 3029W - Business and Professional Writing [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3101W - Writing Arguments [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3102W - Public Writing [CIV, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3152W - Writing on Issues of Science and Technology [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3221W - Communication Modes and Methods [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3244W - Critical Literacies: How Words Change the World [AH, DSJ, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3257 - Technical and Professional Presentations (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3315 - Writing on Issues of Land and the Environment [AH, DSJ] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3371W - Technology, Self, and Society [TS, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3381W - Writing and Modern Cultural Movements [AH, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3405W - Humanistic Healthcare and Communication [AH, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3577W - Rhetoric, Technology, and the Internet [TS, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3671 - Visual Rhetoric and Document Design (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3672W - Project Design and Development [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3701W - Rhetorical Theory for Writing Studies [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 3751W - Seminar: Theory and Practice of Writing Consultancy [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4431W - Science, Technology, and the Law [CIV, WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4501 - Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4562 - International Professional Communication (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4573W - Writing Proposals and Grant Management [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4662W - Writing With Digital Technologies [WI] (3.0 cr)
· WRIT 4664W - Science, Medical, and Health Writing [WI] (3.0 cr)
 
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· Technical Writing and Communication Minor
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WRIT 3441 - Editing, Critique, and Style
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 3441/Writ 4561
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
In this course, students will increase their understanding of how language works and will learn to make choices about language, style, and punctuation to create messages that are clear, concise, and useful. The course emphasizes technical communication, but the skills learned can be applied to any communication situation. Editing practice will include three levels of editing to make the documents comprehensible and useful in which students will not only polish their grammar and punctuation skills, but they will also learn how to explain and justify changes they make in documents. Topics also included in the course are editing methods for both paper and electronic copy and editing for organization and visual design.
WRIT 3562W - Technical and Professional Writing (WI)
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 3562V/Writ 3562W
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
This course introduces students to technical and professional writing through various readings and assignments in which students analyze and create texts that work to communicate complex information, solve problems, and complete tasks. Students gain knowledge of workplace genres as well as to develop skills in composing such genres. This course allows students to practice rhetorically analyzing writing situations and composing genres such as memos, proposals, instructions, research reports, and presentations. Students work in teams to develop collaborative content and to compose in a variety of modes including text, graphics, video, audio, and digital. Students also conduct both primary and secondary research and practice usability testing. The course emphasizes creating documents that are goal-driven and appropriate for a specific context and audience.
WRIT 3562V - Honors: Technical and Professional Writing (WI)
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 3562V/Writ 3562W
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course introduces students to technical and professional writing through various readings and assignments in which students analyze and create texts that work to communicate complex information, solve problems, and complete tasks. Students gain knowledge of workplace genres as well as to develop skills in composing such genres. This course allows students to practice rhetorically analyzing writing situations and composing genres such as memos, proposals, instructions, research reports, and presentations. Students work in teams to develop collaborative content and to compose in a variety of modes including text, graphics, video, audio, and digital. Students also conduct both primary and secondary research and practice usability testing. The course emphasizes creating documents that are goal-driven and appropriate for a specific context and audience. Honors section includes discussion on scholarly readings in technical and professional writing as well as a final project that must be addressed to a real-world audience.
WRIT 3029W - Business and Professional Writing (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: EngL 3029W/Writ 3029W
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
In this course students practice writing and revising common business documents for today?s business world. Students write memos, proposals, cover letters, resumes, and digital and web content as well as practice choice of appropriate formats and media. The course draws from current business practices and stresses workplace collaboration, broader issues of professional literacy, and responsive writing styles. Students practice rhetorical analysis and discuss concepts such as audience, purpose, tone, and context when writing and revising their documents. Students analyze and write from a variety of perspectives and contexts including formal (researched reports, proposals) and informal (email, social media) communication. Students also build a professional online presence through such platforms as LinkedIn.
WRIT 3101W - Writing Arguments (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Students learn about argument, drawn from a number of theories of argument. This goal is pragmatic: those theories provide a vocabulary for talking about argument and for developing and refining students' own written arguments. Students get regular practice, coaching, and feedback on their writing skills, primarily as these concern argumentative writing. Students also learn how to analyze argumentative texts, drawn from popular culture, academic fields, and the public realm.
WRIT 3102W - Public Writing (CIV, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Students in this class examine public documents and apply critical/rhetorical analysis regarding audience, purpose, message, power, and context. Students conduct research and write documents for public audiences on contemporary issues of interest.
WRIT 3152W - Writing on Issues of Science and Technology (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Science and technology are key parts of nearly every aspect of our lives, and, just as important, science and technology are highly debated topics in political, economic, social, public, and personal spheres. For example, consider debates regarding genetically modified foods, space exploration, vaccines, oil pipelines, or clean drinking water. This course will push you to consider the ways you think, feel, and write about science and technology. This course will ask you to examine the relationship between language and science and technology. We will spend the semester reading about science and technology, in addition to studying and practicing different strategies, techniques, and approaches for communicating about science and technology. Using rhetorical studies as a foundation, this course will give you the tools to more effectively engage with scientific and technological topics and debates. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this course aims to foster engagement with scientific and technological conversations. Put simply, students should leave this course caring about scientific and technological issues and wanting to participate in the conversations that surround such issues.
WRIT 3221W - Communication Modes and Methods (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
This course presents a survey of fundamental theories and philosophies of communication. Students will become acquainted with several theories of language and linguistic meaning and with principles of non-verbal and relational communication, and will engage in reflection on differences between older and newer media or ?modes? of discourse (speaking vs. writing; conventional print vs. digital text, etc.). In addition to introducing theories and concepts, the course seeks to develop competencies in evaluating and applying them in the analysis of communication in various contexts including face-to-face conversations, ongoing interpersonal relationships, and digitally-mediated interactions.
WRIT 3244W - Critical Literacies: How Words Change the World (AH, DSJ, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
This course is focused on understanding and using the insights into language and writing that animate Critical Literacy movements in the United States. Literacy is usually thought of in terms of fundamental abilities to read and write about a reality outside of language. Critical Literacy is an intellectual and social movement that challenges this dominant understanding of literacy. Critical Literacy?s fundamental claim is that texts (and our practices for working with them) invite readers (and writers) to accept particular versions of reality as the Real Truth. Through historical and contemporary models, students will learn how efforts to question and transform dominant ways of using language have played an especially important role in struggles for greater justice by and for oppressed groups. Here, people have used the ideas and methods of Critical Literacy to question how racial, gender, social class, and other privileges structure our language practices and our daily experiences. Students will be invited to apply a critical understanding of literacy to their own writing as they analyze course texts and produce original essays on topics of interest to them.
WRIT 3257 - Technical and Professional Presentations
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: OPT No Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
In this course students develop oral presentation skills for technical or professional topics. Areas of study in the course include visual communication, audience analysis, presentation strategies, and presentation of complex research material. The course emphasizes use of digital technologies. Recommend that students take Comm 1101 or equivalent first
WRIT 3315 - Writing on Issues of Land and the Environment (AH, DSJ)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
This course explores how written texts help shape understandings of the land in the U.S. Students read and analyze historical texts that have contributed to colonialist understandings of nature and the land. Students will study how the rhetorical strategies of such texts helped to form exploitive relations with the land and enact violence against indigenous peoples. Historical and current texts written by native peoples provide a counter-narrative to the myth of progress. Emphasis in the course is placed on analyzing texts with an eye toward setting the ground for conversations aimed at achieving sustainability and justice. Students will also study how written texts are composed within material contexts that contribute to their understanding.
WRIT 3371W - Technology, Self, and Society (TS, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Cultural history of American technology. Social values that technology represents in shifts from handicraft to mass production/consumption, in modern transportation, communication, bioengineering. Ethical issues in power, work, identity, our relation to nature.
WRIT 3381W - Writing and Modern Cultural Movements (AH, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course explores how written texts help to shape modern art and cultural movements. Writ 3381 first develops an understanding of the manifesto form by reading primary examples written by artists from such movements as Cubism and Expressionism. Students study the complex written and visual strategies of those texts and how they contributed to social and political change in the modern world. Out of those attempts to change culture, students will be challenged to consider how particular writing strategies developed in the U.S. aimed at bringing about change in 1960s culture in areas such as the women's movement, the move toward racial equality, and the environmental movement. Toward the end of the course, the writings of current movements are taken up as building on and departing from past writing and rhetorical strategies. Students both read about and practice writing strategies studied in the course.
WRIT 3405W - Humanistic Healthcare and Communication (AH, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Humanistic Healthcare and Communication focuses on critically therapeutic patient-provider communication. Topics surveyed include: health literacy, cultural and risk communication, health communication, narrative theory and digital medicine. These topics are brought to bear on three historical moments in the history of medicine when humanism entered or was displaced in medical practice. Students will be exposed to writings, visual arts and music created by physicians and nurses throughout history and write critical essays on these. These will prep students for the new MCAT exam. A variety of guest lecturers from the medical profession will discuss case histories that demonstrate the course themes in practice.
WRIT 3577W - Rhetoric, Technology, and the Internet (TS, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
This course examines the rich and complex ways people are seeking to inform and persuade others via the internet. Western rhetorical theories have adapted to address spoken, written, visual, and digital communication. The internet incorporates aspects of all of these modes of communication, but it also requires us to revisit how we have understood them. Students in Rhetoric, Technology, and the Internet will reinforce their understandings of rhetorical theories and the internet as a technology. The class will also ask students to read current scholarly work about the internet, and develop the critical tools needed to complement, extend, or challenge that work.
WRIT 3671 - Visual Rhetoric and Document Design
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
This course approaches the challenges of document design by drawing upon principles from rhetorical theory and scholarship. In practical terms, this means that the design questions addressed in this class are understood in terms of specific audiences and specific contexts. Students in this class will pursue a blend of critical analysis ? drawing on rhetorical principles ? and document design. While Visual Rhetoric and Document Design assumes no baseline design training, class assignments will encourage students to put theory into practice and develop documents that reflect current best practices in print and digital spaces.
WRIT 3672W - Project Design and Development (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
If you want to put design thinking, agile project management, teamwork, writing, research, analysis, and critical thinking on your resume, join Project Design and Development. You will study, plan, research, design, and develop technical communication materials in a design-thinking, collaborative-writing environment. You?ll work in teams to create a user manual and information graphic, promotional materials, and a social media campaign while planning and documenting your projects and productivity. You will leave the course with knowledge and skills you can put to work in any organization: small business, nonprofit, and corporate. The course develops competencies that the National Association of Colleges and Employers has named as most-valued by employers: critical thinking, written communication, collaboration, digital technology, leadership, and professionalism.
WRIT 3701W - Rhetorical Theory for Writing Studies (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
This course is designed to explore major issues and perspectives in rhetorical criticism, including foundational concepts from the history of rhetorical theory, elements of rhetorical studies, and methods of rhetorical analysis. Rhetoric is an art form with a diverse theoretical landscape, meaning that there is no singular, stable definition of the term; rather, rhetoric is a practice that has been used as an organizing principle for a variety of communicative acts ? written, spoken, and enacted. As such, the study of rhetorical theory and criticism begins with the understanding that human beings use language and symbols to shape our many worldviews. The skills obtained in this class will help you to understand the nature and function of the persuasive strategies that structure our everyday lives and arguments. As a writing-intensive course, you will also learn how to construct a piece of rhetorical criticism that draws upon a toolbox of ideas and methods to successfully articulate a rhetorical argument.
WRIT 3751W - Seminar: Theory and Practice of Writing Consultancy (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course is a seminar in the theory and practice of teaching writing through one-to-one consultations. Our goal in this seminar is to develop as writers and writing consultants through investigating into, experimenting with, and reflecting upon our own literacy practices; reading carefully and discussing published research and theory as well as examples of our own and other students? writing; posing and exploring questions about writers, writing consulting, language and literacy learning, linguistic diversity, and the role of writing centers within higher education; observing, practicing, and reflecting on a variety of consulting strategies; and designing, conducting, and presenting our own writing center inquiry projects. Through reflective writing, in-class consultations, class discussions, and collaborative activities, we will learn together many approaches for conducting one-to-one conferences and for coaching students in their development as writers. prereq: Currently working in a University writing center, instr consent
WRIT 4431W - Science, Technology, and the Law (CIV, WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
In this course students explore the effects of scientific and technological development on the law?and the effects of the law on scientific and technological development. In particular, students will read and discuss government regulation, constitutional guidelines and rights, and federal and state court precedents regarding privacy, intellectual property (patients and copyright), and health law. Specific topics include the following: Search warrants and Four Amendment rights, electronic surveillance law, national security and foreign intelligence, copyright and fair use, citizens? access to creative works, informed consent, medical expert testimony in the courtroom, and the right to medical treatment. Students will have the opportunity to express their opinions and display their analytical skills in three take-home essay exams. Students from all majors are welcome, including those students interested in law school.
WRIT 4501 - Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 4501/Writ 5501
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Usability is concerned with how people interact with design and technology; usability is commonly known as the "ease of use" of products and technologies by a range of users. This course emphasizes usability and user research and will explore the intersection of usability and technical communication. We will investigate definitions of usability and user-centered design principles, and we will explore a variety of usability research methods including heuristic evaluation, personas, and usability testing. The course will focus heavily on usability testing of web sites, a common technical communication task that involves observation and interviews of human participants interacting with a web site.
WRIT 4562 - International Professional Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
This course prepares students to navigate the increasingly global nature of communication and the challenges and opportunities it presents. Students learn how to develop content for and work with clients and colleagues from other cultures, communicate with multicultural audiences, and collaborate in virtual global teams using multiple synchronous and asynchronous technologies. The course includes work with peers and international scholars from various parts of the world. Projects include a metaphorical comparative analysis of cultures; management (global virtual team work) of a translation project with students from another country; interviews with managers/employees in multinational corporations; and curation work with an international archive on emerging technologies.
WRIT 4573W - Writing Proposals and Grant Management (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Spring Odd Year
This advanced-level Writing Studies course introduces students to the activities, responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities that characterize proposals for nonprofits and/or research/business. Students analyze unique proposal writing situations, including audiences (customers, reviewers, and teammates) and resources (collaborators, templates, and time). Students practice the entire process of proposal and grant writing: 1) describing the problem in context; 2) identifying sponsors and finding a match; 3) designing, writing, revising, and completing all proposal components; 4) conceptualizing and using persuasive visual elements; and 5) presenting and responding to stakeholders and sponsors.
WRIT 4662W - Writing With Digital Technologies (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 4662W/Writ 5662
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
WRIT 4662W is an advanced level Writing Studies course that explores various digital writing technologies and provides multiple opportunities to assess writing situations and make appropriate decisions about digital form and production. Students will learn the basic building blocks of writing in Internet environments (text, sound, images, video) as well as the vocabularies, functionalities, and organizing structures of Web 2.0 environments, how these impact understanding and use of information, and how to produce these environments (i.e., multimedia internet documents) for interactivity and use. This course includes design projects and practice with apps, markup language, content management systems, video, and social media. prereq: Jr or sr or instr consent
WRIT 4664W - Science, Medical, and Health Writing (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 4664W/ Writ 5664
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course explores the theories and practices of rhetoric and writing in science, medicine, and health (SMH). Students learn about genres of SMH communication including regulatory documents from the FDA, podcasts created by scientists for the public, patient blogs, and published research articles. The course also engages topics including accessibility, writing in regulated environments, writing for complex audiences, and engaging biomedical and scientific research in writing. Students are challenged to consider how language, science, biomedicine, and health intersect and how different stakeholders such as patients, healthcare providers, scientists, government officials, and insurance companies engage in SMH communication.