2017 Advanced Technical Communication Skills II

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Civil Engineering
Stewart David-Butler  Takemura Jiro  Chijiwa Nobuhiro 
Course component(s)
Lecture / Exercise
Day/Period(Room No.)
Tue1-2(M5会議室, (M5-Meeting Room))  Fri1-2(M5会議室, (M5-Meeting Room))  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims

This is an English-language reading and oral presentation course, conducted in seminar style. The language of instruction is English. The course is based on the dual notion (1) that all successful journal articles comprise a uniform format, which can be learnt, and (2) that the majority of conference presentations in PPT or similar format depend upon logical skills which can be assimilated. Moreover, these presentations also suffer from a range of common graphic errors in slide composition. These can be recognized and thus largely avoided.
Students will progress at very different rates in accordance with the prior level of their English-language skills and their willingness to relinquish previously held assumptions about how language skills are applied to a given comprehension or presentation task.
Aims of the course are:
(a) Shortening the time needed to obtain a reasonable overview of an academic article in any field.
(b) Improving the readability of slide-based oral presentations.
(c) Broadening the ability of each student, at his or her own pace, to exchange information with fellow classmates or the group at large in an effective manner.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have begun to be able to:
(a) Assess the usefulness of a journal article written in English in their own field.
(b) Design a PPT or similar graphic presentation that communicates their research aims and results.
(c) Ask for and provide information in a semi-public setting made up of speakers whose native language may or may not be primarily English.


English reading skills, English presentation skills, information exchange, logic, graphic design, content assessment, research aims

Competencies that will be developed

Intercultural skills Communication skills Specialist skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

Weekly attendance is compulsory. Discussion is continuous and there are no lectures. Workshop format (article or topic for presentation changes every two/ three weeks, depending on the size of the class (usually 12 to 25 active participants).

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Course introduction and self-introductions in English by each participant, including research aims of lab and/or individual student. Ability to make oneself heard and understood in English.
Class 2 ATC II is likely to begin with oral presentation, as an icebreaker with graphic and verbal skills introduced progressively Logically coherent thinking and self-expression.
Class 3 Continuation of presentation topic(s) with introduction of self-criticism and assessment on the part of the group at large (workshop mode) Grammar, punctuation, logical sequencing
Class 4 Refinement of this process via repetition and comparison with students taking the lead in suggesting improvements Understanding that certain rules apply and that logic and consistency come first
Class 5 Selection of first research paper for detailed analysis. Read abstract and note section breakdown, as well as charts/ illustrations/tables Realization that published research must follow a single and invariable scheme
Class 6 First case-study: analysis and discussion, give and take about what is important and what is only peripheral How well does a paper follow the model?
Class 7 How much can you understand, even when the topic is distant from your own field? How effectively did you apply scanning techniques? How best to deploy time and effort for basic comprehension of this material?
Class 8 Second case-study: Identical process with gradual refinement of skills Idem
Class 9 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 10 Third case-study: Identical process and self-interrogation regarding your own progress (this is bound to be unequal among students...) Idem
Class 11 (cont'd. as above) Idem
Class 12 Fourth case-study: Identical process but with greater understanding of what clues you are looking for Idem
Class 13 Typically, this will be a more difficult paper calling for sophistication of approach and greater refinement of analysis Idem
Class 14 There is a gradual attempt throughout this process to consolidate and build on newly acquired skills for application in independent study Idem
Class 15 Wrap-up and/or assessment. 共同、タスク分担調査に基づいたグループワーク


There is no textbook. Materials are student-devised PPTs, journal reprints and or PDFs. It is suggested that each student bring a laptop computer or handheld device able to connect with the Internet.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

A single half-sheet listing the five basic questions answered by a correctly devised and presented research paper in any field whatsoever should be committed to memory

Assessment criteria and methods

In-class activities backed by home-based preparation account for some 70% of evaluation. That said, it is the rate of student self-application and progress that is most important rather than any absolute level of achievement. The remaining 30% is assessed on simple willingness to participate in interpersonal and group exchanges, even when this involves "being wrong". A student who ignores the contributions of others or sits in silence will receive a low evaluation.

Related courses

  • CVE.L401 : Advanced Technical Communication Skills Ⅰ
  • CVE.P431 : International Collaboration Ⅰ
  • CVE.P432 : International Collaboration Ⅱ
  • CVE.P433 : International Internship Ⅰ
  • CVE.P434 : International Internship Ⅱ

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

An open-mind and a willingness to take risks in discarding previous assumptions about learning and comprehension


ATC I and ATC II form a continuous yearlong course, although students entering in spring are welcome. The course aims and description do not vary, although skill levels may vary across cohorts based on language and research experience.

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