Project 2: Technical Description, Definition, and Instructions

Worth 20% of your final grade

Important Dates

  • Feb 24: Submit your topic for approval (counts as part of the in-class writing for that day)
  • Mar 5: Draft due for peer review (draft and providing feedback counts as the in-class writing for that day)
  • Mar 21: Due date for Project #2 (no in-class writing for that day)
  • Mar 28: Deadline for Project #2 (the last day you can submit your work)

The Project Assignment

You are a student at Virginia Tech, and you are going to contribute to a printable document to a new website, Help for Hokies. The website provides basic explanations and related how-to information that new students and their families can use to get settled and to take care of any challenges they may encounter.

The site provides resources for all new and returning students on academic, social, and personal topics. Students coming to the site might look for more information on how to do well in a large lecture class, how to ask a teacher for help on a topic, or how to participate in recreational sports on campus.

The Help for Hokies site also includes a particular focus on resources for international students who may need basic help in the Blacksburg community as well. These students might need assistance with how to get an apartment, how to start utilities, how to open a local bank account, or how to find a doctor.

The document you write for Project 2 will provide readers of the Help for Hokies site with a technical description, related definitions, and step-by-step instructions on a specific topic. Topics are not repeated on the site, so your choice will have to be unique.

Project Details

Step 1: Choose a topic.
On Monday, February 24, your in-class writing will tell me about the topic you have chosen. You topic should be specific, and we will discuss examples in class. As an example, instead of the general topic of “how to participate in rec sports on campus,” you would choose something like “how to participate in a rec sports Zumba class” or “how to get involved in the Men’s Rugby Club.” Be sure to choose a topic that you are familiar with, and ideally have personal experience with.

Step 2: Create the document.
You will create one document that includes three different sections:

  • A technical description that describes and explains the concept you will cover. The description should provide the reader with enough information to tell is the document will help her. Include whatever background information, explanation, and visual resources your reader will need to complete the task your document covers. Include a minimum of one new or adapted illustration, designed for use by a specific semi-technical or nontechnical audience. This section of the document might vary in length from one to two pages, but the length will vary by topic.
  • A glossary of terms that are related to the topic you are explaining. The number of terms will vary with the topic you have chosen. This section of the document might take up as much as half a page. Some definitions may be as short as a single sentence; others may require a full paragraph. The glossary document should be structured and designed to enhance readability.
  • A set of step-by-step instructions that tell the audience how to accomplish the task that the document covers. Your instructions should include at least five steps and 5 photos or illustrations. It needs to include a list of required materials, details on the steps to be completed, and any troubleshooting tips or advice. Also include safety notes or warnings if appropriate for your topic.

Step 3: Publish the document on the Help for Hokies site.
I’ll have instructions on this process once the site is ready for submissions. Generally speaking, you will download your document from your Google Drive as a PDF and upload it to the Help for Hokies website. You will not need to know any HTML or CSS. We’ll go over everything in class and there will be instructions for you to follow.

Step 4: Complete the project reflection memo.
Write a short (about 1 page) informal memo that explains the choices you made with regard to content, organization, and design. This memo will also include the Share Link to your document on your Google Drive and the link to your uploaded document on the Help for Hokies site.

Along with other information you explain in your memo, you can answer the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to organize the information the way you did as opposed to some other possible organization?
  • Why did you choose to include the content you did?
  • What was left out, and why?
  • Why is the design effective?
  • Why are the visuals effective?

Write this memo to me as your instructor, using specific details from your document to help me understand your explanation. This memo gives me the chance to tell me anything you want me to know about your project before I read it. You can write this memo in class on the due date.

Grading Criteria

  • Deliverables:
    • Does the project document include all 3 parts (a technical description, a glossary, and step-by-step instructions)?
    • Is the reflection memo included?
    • Has the document been posted on the Help for Hokies site?
    • Does the project show effort?
  • Content:
    • Does the document provide all the details that the audience will need to accomplish the task it covers?
    • Does it meet the requirements in the Writer’s Checklist at the end of chapter 14 of Markel (pp. 388–289)?
    • Does the reflection memo show effort and provide useful, clear information?
  • Excellence: Does the document memo meet Markel’s eight measures of excellence?