Course Title

ICS 139W 

Critical Writing on Information Technology

Fall 2015

Emily Navarro

DBH 5221

Teaching Assistant

Steve Slota ( Steve will devote the scheduled discussion section time to individual consultations, and will also be available for meetings by appointment.

Lecture Location: MSTB 120
Lecture Day and Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30-4:50pm

Discussion Location: DBH 1429

Discussion Day and Time: Friday 12-12:50pm or 1-1:50pm

Catalogue Description
Study and practice of critical writing and oral communication as it applies to information technology. Each student writes assignments of varying lengths, totaling at least 4,000 words. Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of the Lower-Division Writing requirement. Restriction: Upper-division students only.

Office Hours
Emily: Tuesdays 2:15-3:15pm

Steve: During discussion or by appointment

Course Materials:
Every student in the course should have:

Course Mailing List
To send mail:
To view the archive:

Course Goals

This course is designed to help you become comfortable writing technical documents for a variety of audiences. You will also be required to give brief presentations to your peers with PowerPoint presentations. You will write several papers, and give a series of short presentations.

This course satisfies UCI's upper division writing requirement, which gives students the opportunity to do writing in ways that are specific to their own academic disciplines, guided by faculty from that discipline rather than from English.

To successfully pass this course, you must earn a grade of C or better. All students enrolled in the course will earn a letter grade based upon: (a) class attendance and participation, (b) assignments, (c) presentations.

Grade distribution will be as follows:

The overall average, on a 0-100 scale, is converted to a letter grade as follows: A or A- for 90 or up; B+, B, or B- for 80 to 89; C+, C, or C- for 70 to 79, and so on. These ranges may be modified slightly.

There will be no exams.

We're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these criteria could change, but we do not expect that to happen.

Further Explanation of Assignments/Grading:

Dr. Kay's "Writing Assignment Requirements" contains writing and formatting guidelines that we will encourage you to use this quarter. Failure to follow them may affect your grade. Please re-consult the guidelines whenever you start a new assignment. 

Academic Dishonesty

Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in any shape or form. You will be held responsible for any and all actions whether they were performed indirectly (i.e. you left your computer unmonitored, someone stole your password, you left a printed version of your work in the lab). Remember, the burden of proof is on you. The staff must solely determine that academic dishonesty has occurred, and hope that those responsible will own up to their actions. In cases where neither student admits their participation, both will receive the same sanctions on a course-level (Note: campus-wide sanctions are determined by the Associate Dean of your department). Cheating will be detected by Please note that instances of academic dishonesty will be reflected in the final grade because dishonesty devalues the learning experience for the whole class.

Students with Disabilities
Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss his or her specific needs. Please also contact the Disability Services Center at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

Assignment Submission

All assignments listed below must be submitted in two ways (on paper at the start of class and via eee dropbox), with these exceptions:

Late Policy

• Hard copy/electronic submissions: Late work will not be accepted, except in truly extenuating circumstances for which the student can produce documentation validating their circumstance (e.g., a doctor's note, a police report, etc.)

• In-class assignments: All students coming in after the activity has started will receive a 50% deduction of points for the assignment. Students more than 15 minutes late will receive a 0 for that assignment.

• In-class presentations: Any student who is not in attendance when their name is called to give their presentation will receive a 0 for the presentation.

• Exceptions will be made for valid emergencies when a student shows proper documentation (e.g., a doctor's note, a police report, etc.)


Note: This schedule is subject to change. You are required to complete all assigned work before each class. 




Item(s) Due


September 24 

Lecture 1: Course Introduction; System Change assignment overview; Personal Statement assignment overview

In-class writing sample


September 29 

Lecture 2: Peer review, oral presentation techniques

"Influencing Policy" assignment overview

Read this article

Read Tufte's "PowerPoint is Evil"

Read Doumont's "Slides Are Not All Evil"

"Changing System" Email to TA

October 1

Group editing of Personal Statement

Personal Statement (draft)


October 6

Oral synopsis of system changes

"Changing System" synopsis (oral)

October 8 

Defining Quality

In-class writing


October 13 

Group editing of Influencing Policy letter

"Influencing Policy" (draft)

October 15 

Lecture 3: Three Laws of Professional Communication; Typography, illustration, and data visualization

Personal Statement (final)


October 20 

Lecture 4: Résumés and cover letters  (Guest Lecture) slide deck 1, slide deck 2

"Influencing Policy" (revised)

October 22 

Lecture 5: The nature and structure of language

In-class writing


October 27 

Group editing of “Changing System” intro

“Changing System" intro (draft)

October 29 

Group editing of résumés/cover letters

Résumé/cover letter (draft, 3 copies)


November 3 

Group editing of change proposals

"Changing System" proposal (draft with slides)

November 5 

Oral tutorial introduction to system

“Changing System" intro (oral)

Résumé/cover letter (final)


November 10 

Oral tutorial intro to system continued

November 12 

Oral proposal of change to decision-makers

"Changing System" proposal (revised with slides)

"Changing System" proposal (oral)


November 17 

Oral proposals (continued once)

"Influencing Policy" (final)

November 19 

Oral proposals (continued twice)

“Changing System" intro (final)


November 24 


November 26

Thanksgiving - NO CLASS


December 1 

Oral proposals (continued thrice)

December 3 

Lecture 6: Final lecture

In-class writing


December 8

“Changing System" proposal (final) (submit electronically only)

Due to EEE by 11:55pm