NC State
Professional Writing Resources

Class size

Because demand for ENG 331, 332, and 333 is increasing, there may be more students who wish to enroll in your section than the 22-student maximum class size (23-student maximum for online sections). Students often can be extremely persuasive with their reasons for wanting to add your section, but don’t let them persuade you into making a mistake. You are under no obligation to admit any students over the enrollment cap. Keep in mind that enrollment limits are set on our classes for pedagogical reasons and that “helping” a few may cause the many to suffer. Admitting just a few extra students can change the dynamics of the entire class and can increase your workload significantly.¬†As a general rule, we do not enroll students over the enrollment cap.

If you can admit a student, give the student a signed drop/add form and send that to Tompkins 246.


Credit by Exam

The Professional Writing Committee has determined that credit by examination should not be offered for ENG 331, 332, or 333 (April 1994). This decision is justified under university policy that departments may decline to offer credit by exam in courses “which are demonstrably unsuited” for such means of student assessment (1995 Handbook for Advising and Teaching).

Our reasons are the following:

  1. ENG 331, 332, and 333 are writing courses, in which student achievement is not measured by examinations but by continuous and progressive performance on a series of specifically designed writing assignments. Course policies specify that “At least 70% of a student’s grade will be based on writing performance; the rest may be determined by attendance, participation, quizzes and tests, exercises and homework, and rhetorical analysis.”
  2. As professional courses, these writing courses emphasize the production of documents under professional conditions, not writing that can be done in the classroom or under exam conditions. Course policies specify that “No more than 15% of a student’s graded work should be written in class” and that “Students will prepare all major assignments on a computerized word processing system.”
  3. Additional course policies require activities that are impossible to reproduce under exam conditions: peer review, collaborative writing, and oral presentations.

In sum, we believe that no examination can fairly and adequately represent the activities of these courses and the student learning and performance that they involve. We realize that the new General Education Requirements may increase the number of students required to take these courses and, hence, the number of students interested in challenging them by exam. For students who have extensive experience in workplace writing and are (to the satisfaction of their own departments) capable writers, we believe that exemption from the requirement by the requiring department is a more appropriate measure than challenging the course itself by exam.


Professional Development

You should attend meetings of the professional writing staff whenever they are called by the Director of Professional Writing or the Professional Writing Committee. Attending staff meetings and workshops is considered a part of your ongoing professional development and provides opportunities to communicate informally with other professional writing instructors. Workshop topics are intended to address current teaching concerns. Please let members of the Professional Writing Committee know what topics are of interest to you.


Qualifications for Teachers

Teachers of Professional Writing courses need three kinds of knowledge: experiential, conceptual, and pedagogical. These knowledge bases can be acquired and demonstrated in somewhat different ways for the three professional writing courses. The Professional Writing Committee has developed the following policy for teacher qualifications (April 1995).

Experiential Knowledge

A teacher must have familiarity with the texts, contexts, and practices appropriate to the specific and different emphases in 331,332, and 333. This familiarity may be acquired in two ways:

    1. Work experience in an industry, business, or research environment that provides experience with the documents, audiences, and purposes typical of those encountered by engineers, managers, and scientific research personnel. Such experience can include writing, editing, and using these documents.
    2. Formal study of the ways writing is used in these contexts. At NCSU, appropriate study consists of the following:
      1. For 331: ENG 512, Theory and Research in Professional Writing
      2. For 332: ENG 512, Theory and Research in Professional Writing
      3. For 333: ENG 515, Rhetoric of Science and Technology

Conceptual Knowledge

A teacher must have knowledge of the relevant rhetorical and communication theory and research that explain and generalize the specific workplace practices and put them in social and historical context. Such knowledge is usually acquired by formal study. At NCSU, appropriate study consists of ENG 511, Theory and Research in Composition; ENG 512,Theory and Research in Professional Writing; and ENG 515, Rhetoric of Science and Technology.

Pedagogical Knowledge

A teacher must have knowledge of the pedagogical techniques, strategies, and materials appropriate for advanced students in technical, scientific, and business-oriented disciplines. Such knowledge can be acquired through prior teaching experience in professional writing. Such experience should be at the advanced (upper division) level, not in a community or two-year college.

In addition to meeting the specific qualifications above, teachers must meet the basic qualifications for appointment as a Visiting lecturer in NCSU’s Department of English: a master’s degree in a relevant field and ability or potential in teaching.