Business Writing

November 1, 2004

English 330: Business Writing
Honors Section 01: MW 9:00 10:40 in 037 Millett
Winter 2003

Lecturer: Cathy Sayer Office: 483 Millett
Mailbox: 469 Millett Office Hours: MW 11:00 1:00
Phone: 775 2471 TTH 1:00 2:30
Email: and by appointment

Texts and Materials

For this course, you will need:
Business and Administrative Communication, 6th Edition, by Kitty 0.
A Writer’s Reference, 4th Edition, by Diana Hacker (recommended)
Access to a computer with Microsoft Word software (Windows 98 or above)
Several preformatted IBM disks

Course Goals

The general goals of this course are to prepare you for the types of writing you will encounter in the workplace and for the citizenship role of a business professional. The specific goals are to assist you in developing strategies for: writing with specific audiences and purposes in mind writing collaboratively developing a sense of ethics in business communication planning, drafting, and revising your writing designing your documents visually

Course Description

To achieve the course goals, you will write a variety of texts: emails, memos, letters, proposals, reports, handbooks, manuals, etc. Some will be exercises from our text, but most of your writing in your major project will be real workplace writing in the form of a service learning team project.

Service learning projects represent mutually beneficial partnerships between academic courses and nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit groups will provide you with real workplace contexts for practicing the skills taught in the class, and you will provide valuable services for the organizations services for which they could not afford to pay and which might otherwise go undone. All parties have an equal stake in the success of these projects.

For your service learning project in this course, you and 1-2 other classmates will form a team to provide writing services for a non profit organization in our area. Your team will choose a project from a list of organizations that have made requests for our services. And the whole class will work as an extended creative team, supporting each other and acting as a consulting group as we contract out our services to meet needs in our community. By the end of the course, you should have a collection of writings from which to compile a portfolio to take to job interviews.

Course Requirements

Your final course grade will consist of the following:

  • Collaborative Team Project Portfolio 50%
  • Project Evaluation 15%
  • Participation 20%
  • Team Player Grade 15%

All assignments must be completed and turned in to receive a passing grade in the course. All formal team portfolio pieces must have received feedback from your classmates and me in order to be submitted for a grade.

Collaborative Team Project Portfolio

Your team’s project portfolio is due, Wednesday, March 12, at the celebration we will host to honor our community partners and present them with the completed projects. The portfolio will consist of drafts and revisions of the following documents.

  • a portfolio transmittal
  • an email that introduces you to your community partners
  • a project proposal
  • a progress report
  • a negative or persuasive message (most likely email)
  • the final project

Class discussion, readings and activities will provide guidance on the proper format for these pieces. And you will receive feedback on each from your classmates and me to help you revise. You will have one mandatory conference with me on a semifinal draft of your project. However, before you submit your first drafts to your community partners for review, you should consult with me to make certain your work reflects the principles being learned in the course.

Project Evaluation

Your project evaluation will be due during finals week and will be discussed in more detail before you begin work on it. Basically, though, you will be asked to demonstrate your overall learning about business writing during this term by evaluating

  • The effectiveness of your team’s collaborative process
  • The amount and quality of each team member’s contributions (team player grade)
  • The quality of writing in your team project. Your own progress in internalizing business writing principles and skills, using examples from pieces you wrote during the project
  • How your choices, behaviors, and activities as a business professional and a citizen might differ as a result of your work in the nonprofit sector


Your participation grade will be based on a reading log and presentations of your team’s document drafts to the class. Your grade will be calculated on the percentage of credits you earn out of the total possible during the term (90%=A, 80%=B, etc.).

Reading Log

Every day that you have a reading assignment, you should come to class with a reading log. The purpose of the logs is to help you digest your readings and be prepared to apply the information to your project work during class time. In the log, you should take notes on the most important points and concepts in the chapter and list any questions you want to ask in class. So that you can use your log efficiently in class, you also may want to note page numbers where each piece of info is located. Each log should be labeled with the date, the chapter number, and the title and may be typed (single or double spaced) or handwritten. Logs will receive full or half credit. To earn full credit, you must

  • Be present for the entire class
  • Thoroughly complete the log for the correct reading
  • Present the log to me at the beginning of class on the assigned day Logs that are deficient in one or more of these areas will receive half credit. However, you may make up as many as 3 logs with no penalty, as long as the late work is presented at the beginning of the next class meeting.

Draft Presentations

During the term, each team will draft and revise 7 different documents. On the day a draft is due, one member of your team will present the draft to the class on the big screen and explain why you made the choices you did. The class will then discuss strengths of the draft and improvements that can be made. Each team member must do his/her fair share of the presentations (2/3 for a 3 person team, 3 for a 2 person team). Presentations will receive full or half credit. For full credit, you must

  • Present a draft that shows a good attempt to apply principles in the reading and class discussion.
  • Explain the team’s choices clearly and thoroughly.
  • Presentations that are deficient in one of these areas will receive half credit.
  • There will be no make ups for draft presentations.

Team Player Grade

At the end of the term, your team members (in their project evaluation) and I will evaluate your contributions as a team player. Each of us will assign you a team player grade, which I will then average to arrive at your team player grade. I assume that your classmates and I will be looking for similar characteristics in terms of your performance in the class and on your team, but I can tell you the qualities I look for.

  • Prompt and faithful attendance
  • Efficient and effective use of class time, evidenced by the quality and amount of your in class work (Team members may also value the way you use out of class meeting time.)
  • Flexible and cooperative attitude (Team members might especially value these qualities when setting up meeting times or needing help in emergencies.)
  • Good work ethic (history of meeting deadlines and carrying your fair share of the load)
  • Willingness to take risks and shoulder some kind of leadership (making phone calls, scheduling or running meetings, soothing hurt feelings, providing needed materials or skills)

Tips for Success

The policies and procedures in this course will follow, as closely as possible, those in the work world. Therefore, in determining what might be proper behavior in a given situation, you should continually ask yourself, “What would I do if this happened on my job? How would this action reflect on me as an employee? How would it reflect on my company?” Making things run smoothly will require common sense, respect for others, and effective and timely communication, both with me and with your classmates.

Partial Course Schedule

M 2/17 – Present project. Bring all negative or persuasive message drafts and project materials to class.

W 2/19 – Draft project report.

M 2/24 – Draft of project due.

W 2/26 – Checking Progress of Teams. Bring a copy of the Service Learning project draft for the 1-2 hour Projects conference

W 3/5 – Preparing Portfolio. Final project editing. Discuss project.

Week 10 – Work on projects or speak informally about project evaluations and your learning in the class.

W 3/12 – Attend Celebration Thanking Community Partners

Finals Week – Evaluating Project. Evaluation due.

School: Wright State University
Professor: Cathy Sayer
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