Course Title

ICS 139W 

Critical Writing on Information Technology

Spring 2014

Emily Navarro

Teaching Assistant

Scott Godfrey ( Scott will devote some of the scheduled discussion section time to individual consultations; he will also be available at other times to be arranged by appointment (generally before or after class).

Lecture Location: ICS 180
Lecture Day and Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 5:00-6:20pm

Discussion Location: 9-9:50: ICS 259; 10-10:50: DBH 1423

Discussion Day and Time: Wednesday 9-9:50 or Wednesday 10-10:50

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: By appointment (generally before or after lecture)

Scott: By appointment (generally before or after discussion)

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:

In general we will assign scores on a 100-point scale, with 95 a clear A, 85 a clear B, and below 70 not of passing quality (i.e., below C). It is possible but not guaranteed that the cutoffs for course letter grades of A and B will be assigned more leniently; that is, an overall score of 89% might receive an A or A-.

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 submissions: All assignments are due AT THE BEGINNING of class on the due date. Assignments turned in after the first five minutes of class on a due date will have 25% of the possible points for that revision deducted from the grade for that revision. Assignments not turned in by the time the professor or TA leaves at the end of class will not be accepted.

Electronic submission: All late submissions turned in after the deadline, up to the end of the day, will result in 10% being deducted from the possible points for that revision. All submissions turned in after the end of the day will result in 25% being deducted from the grade for that revision.

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


April 1 (Lec.)

Lecture 1: Course Introduction; System Change assignment overview; Writing Instructions assignment overview

April 2 (Disc.)

Consultation on "Changing System" topics and "Writing Instructions"

April 3 (Lec.)

In-class writing sample

"Changing System" Email to Scott



April 8 (Lec.)

Lecture 2: Oral presentation techniques;

"Influencing Policy" assignment overview; In-class writing on PowerPoint articles

Read Tufte's "PowerPoint is Evil"

Read Doumont's "Slides Are Not All Evil"

April 9 (Disc.)

Using other peoples' writing

"Writing Instructions" (draft, 3 copies)

April 10 (Lec.)

Oral synopsis of system changes

"Changing System" synopsis (oral)


April 15 (Lec.)

Group editing of letter influencing policy

"Influencing Policy" (draft)

"Writing Instructions" (final)

April 16 (Disc.)

Group editing of introductory tutorials

"Changing System" intro (draft)

April 17 (Lec.)

Oral tutorial introduction to system

"Changing System" intro (oral)


April 22 (Lec.)

Oral tutorial intro to system continued

"Influencing Policy" (revised)

April 23 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

April 24 (Lec.)

Lecture 3: Résumés and cover letters  (Guest Lecture)

Slide Deck 1

Slide Deck 2

"Changing System" intro (final)


April 29 (Lec.)

Group editing of résumés/cover letters

Résumé/cover letter (draft, 2 copies)

April 30 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

May 1 (Lec.)

Group editing of change proposals

"Changing System" proposal (draft with slides)


May 6 (Lec.)

Personality assessments

Defining Quality

"Influencing Policy" (final)

May 7 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

May 8 (Lec.)

Lecture 4: The nature and structure of language

"Changing System" proposal (revised with slides)


May 13 (Lec.)

Lecture 5: Three Laws of Professional Communication; Typography, illustration, and data visualization

Résumé/cover letter (final)

May 14 (Disc.)

Testing of PowerPoint files

May 15 (Lec.)

Oral proposal of change to decision-makers

"Changing System" proposal (oral)


May 20 (Lec.)

Oral proposals (continued once)

May 21 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

May 22 (Lec.)

Oral proposals (continued twice)


May 27 (Lec.)

Oral proposals (continued thrice)

"Changing System" proposal (final)

May 28 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

May 29 (Lec.)

Group editing of promotion pieces

"Changing System" promo (draft)


June 3 (Lec.)

Oral promotion of change to users

"Changing System" promo (final)

"Changing System" promo (oral)

June 4 (Disc.)

Consultation hour

June 5 (Lec.)

Lecture 6: Epilogue

Extra credit: Personal statement