Grades & Assignments

You must complete all major assignments to pass this course. Regardless of other graded work, failure to turn in all assignments on time will result in a failing grade. If you do not submit all materials for each project, you will not pass the class. I am particularly twitchy about work you do that involves your fellow students.

You should submit your work on time.

GPA Percentage

98-100  A+ 88-89  B+ 78-79  C+ 68-69  D+
93-97   A 83-87   B 73-77   C 63-67   D
90-92   A- 80-82   B- 70-72   C- 60-62   D-


Note that these are just brief overviews—full‐length assignments and examples will be provided in class. All written assignments, with the exception of peer feedback, can be revised and resubmitted with revision cover letter that clearly outlines changes between drafts as well as strategic choices in drafting process within two weeks for a new grade.

Inquiry Test Report | 100 points

The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience in planning an inquiry usability test, acquiring the participants, conducting the test, analyzing the results, and preparing a report.

Usability Test Plan and Materials | 100 points

The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate the necessity for careful planning of a usability test, and for you to gain experience in producing a formal test plan as well as to emphasize the necessity for creating all test materials in advance of administering a usability test, so as to ensure that the materials will help yield the required results. The plan will explain the purpose of your test, the users you intend to test, the methods you will use, the evaluation measures you will use, and the planned test report contents while careful preparation of test materials makes administering the test, analyzing the data, and reporting on the results considerably easier.

Usability Test Report | 100 points

The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate the importance of the final test report and to illustrate the complex rhetorical challenges of preparing such a report. Usability reports are often the only part of the process seen by other developers and other departments. They can also have implications for external bodies, including government agencies, licensing and safety boards, consumer groups, the media, and even the general public. The most difficult rhetorical challenge in a test report is that of offering areas for improvement to the developers who created the item you have tested.

Mobile Usability Test | 100 points

Mobile usability presents special challenges to technical communicators, as we do not yet have the body of knowledge or literature that we do related to other types of hardware and software testing. The class will work together to tackle different approaches to the unique challenges presented for usability in the mobile space.

Provide Helpful Feedback | 400 points

One of the guiding philosophies of this course is that a good writer is not someone who writes well. Rather, a good writer is someone who makes the people around them better writers. In professional contexts, making the people around you better writers leads to management positions whether they are with project management, working on teams, or reaching out to user communities. As part of your participation, you will share your writing and offer feedback to others that helps them improve their own thinking and their drafts. Doing so will make your writing stronger.

We’ll spend a good deal of time talking about how to improve in this area, as it is a key skill needed to advance in any knowledge worker career paths, and the particular procedures for our class to practice writing this way. Making other people’s work better is valuable but it is something formal educational experiences do not traditionally value  and, therefore, frequently feels like additional work. In our class it is not an additional burden but the cornerstone of how we will learn. Your ability to provide quality feedback is an essential part of your learning in the class and a better indicator of course engagement than any other measures. In short, you providing good feedback makes the class better for everyone, helps the class learn, and should be valued as such.

You grade will be determined by three factors:

  • Your peer’s rankings of the usefulness of your comments
  • The number of words you use to make your comments
  • Your ability to turn in full drafts and revision plans on time

We’ll go into how to provide great feedback as well as how we’ll assess that feedback in class in great detail but for now you should know we’ll be using the tool Eli Review to do this work.

Still curious? Please check out more about the importance of feedback and improvement and rethinking and revising writing.