Course Policies


Please take the time to read and absorb the information presented here. If you have any questions or concerns, please Contact Lisa.

You may also want to take a moment and read the post about Expectations.

What is this course all about?

We have the dual goals of providing you a quick and dirty introduction to the field of technical and professional communication so that you’re better prepared to teach one of the “service courses” here at USF.

Unlike composition, TPC is writing designed for some sort of action. In our case, it includes basic business communication (like how to write a good email and a resume) and it also includes exposure to a number of important forms (aka genres) used across a variety of industries and professions (like the proposal/grant).

In addition, we’re going to cover some basics of teaching and learning so that you can design courses in a thoughtful manner where your learning outcomes, assignments, assessments, and exercises are integrated in way that helps students leave your course with what they need.

So what’s in it for me?

Most professional writing is about solving problems. By that I mean, your organization or a client for your organization has a communication/writing problem and the present solutions are not meeting their needs. This is the essence of what we’re trying to get across in the service courses here at USF.

Just like a professional and/or technical writer, you’ll need to be agile to vary  your format and approach in response to different rhetorical classroom contexts (different audiences, different purposes, different subject matter). In this way, much of how we teach in PTC is modeling the same sort of behavior and practices that student will need when they leave the university.

In addition, the assignments should help you to develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to consider your subject from the point of view of your audience–your students. One key element in developing critical-thinking skills is learning how to frame relevant questions, ones that consider the writing situation from different angles and help others to think more deeply and clearly about the issue at hand. A good question as a teacher (and a student and a working professional) is a key to success.

And finally, you’ll gain some additional (in)direct benefits

  • expand your teaching portfolio (particularly useful if you’re going to do the academic job market)
  • learn some strategies on how to better manage teaching and research and life
  • gain an understanding of institutional structures and the impact they have on courses and curricula


What books and materials will I need?

We will be using parts of pieces of a number of texts. We will not be using any one text completely, so if you’re a hold it in your hand person, you’ll need to set aside funds for printing pages from an online source. Otherwise, I’ll provide links to the materials or specific ways for you to obtain the readings and things that you’ll need.

Many of the things we will be reading are journal articles. I will give you the citation, but it’s a useful exercise for you to become a library master and obtain the materials for yourself. If you need a short course in how to use the library website, please let me know.

See the course schedule for more specific information.


What type of technology “stuff” will I need?

You need to have access to the Internet and you’ll need a home computer or laptop that’s fairly new. Otherwise, you’ll just be honing your academic research skills (like using library databases) and your google skills .



What are we going to be doing in class?

Class times will be divided between, let’s call them, theory and practice. In the theory part of class, we will discuss the major principles and ideas in the readings. In the practice part of class, we’ll see how those principles and ideas are carried out in the classroom.

You will also have the opportunity to work on your projects during the practice part of class. However, a word of caution: it is highly unlikely that you will have enough class time to complete the projects.


How many classes can I miss?

I strongly encourage that you miss no classes at all. However, I understand life happens so we’ll try to work something out if you’re willing to do your part.


How will my grade be calculated?

See Assignments where you’ll find more information about the assignments and their weight, as well as information about collaborative projects and my grading philosophy.

This is the equivalent to the USF system mandate for “Basis for Final Grade” and “Grade Dissemination.”


What if I have a disability or need accommodations?

See note above about inclusive classroom space in the Expectations blog post. The official institutional policy on these things is below.

Let me translate it for you: I’m here to help you and work with you to achieve your goals. Just talk to me and we’ll find a way to work things out (whether you’ve officially declared or not).

Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) in order to receive academic accommodations. SDS encourages students to notify instructors of accommodation needs at least 5 business days prior to needing the accommodation. A letter from SDS must accompany this request.


What do I do if I am struggling in aspects of my life?

There are lots of taboos that we never talk about. Things like money, food, and shelter because it seems we should all have these things, especially if we’re in college. That’s not necessarily true.

We also don’t talk about our mental health enough, and it’s really easy to let things pile up mentally to where you start to suffer from the weight of it all.

As a student, you can start at the Center for Student Well Being.

Here’s some specific information on mental health.

Here’s the food pantry.

Still trying to find some info on housing in case you hit a rough spot. 

And please, please come talk to me. My door is always open and I’ll find ways to get you the help that you need.


What are the USF mandated policies that must appear on the syllabus?

Here they are. Verbatim as required.

Academic Integrity of Students: Academic integrity is the foundation of the University of South Florida System’s commitment to the academic honesty and personal integrity of its university community. Academic integrity is grounded in certain fundamental values, which include honesty, respect, and fairness. Broadly defined, academic honesty is the completion of all academic endeavors and claims of scholarly knowledge as representative of one’s own efforts. The final decision on an academic integrity violation and related academic sanction at any USF System institution shall affect and be applied to the academic status of the student throughout the USF System, unless otherwise determined by the independently accredited institution.

Disruption to Academic Process: Disruptive students in the academic setting hinder the educational process. Disruption of the academic process is defined as the act, words, or general conduct of a student in a classroom or other academic environment which in the reasonable estimation of the instructor: (a) directs attention away from the academic matters at hand, such as noisy distractions, persistent, disrespectful or abusive interruption of lecture, exam, academic discussion, or general University operations, or (b) presents a danger to the health, safety, or well-being of self or other persons.

Student Academic Grievance Procedures: The purpose of these procedures is to provide all undergraduate and graduate students taking courses within the University of South Florida System an opportunity for objective review of facts and events pertinent to the cause of the academic grievance. An “academic grievance” is a claim that a specific academic decision or action that affects that student’s academic record or status has violated published policies and procedures, or has been applied to the grievant in a manner different from that used for other students.

Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Harassment Reporting: USF is committed to providing an environment free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence (USF System Policy 0-004). The USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention is a confidential resource where you can talk about incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. This confidential resource can help you without having to report your situation to either the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSSR) or the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity (DIEO), unless you request that they make a report. Please be aware that in compliance with Title IX and under the USF System Policy, educators must report incidents of sexual harassment and gender-based crimes including sexual assault, stalking, and domestic/relationship violence. If you disclose any of these situations in class, in papers, or to me personally, I am required to report it to OSSR or DIEO for investigation. Contact the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention: (813) 974-5757.