Business and Professional Writing Syllabus

WRD 202: Professional Business Writing, Spring 2011, Session I


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Instructor: Beth Ann Bryant-Richards
Visiting Instructor, Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse
Office: Lewis Center 1634
Office hours: 9:30-10:00 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and by appointment.
I have some availability at Lincoln Park. (Please include your class time when you communicate with me via e-mail.)


Course Description:


This is a highly practical course, designed to give you the skills you need to write effectively in the business environment, with an emphasis on your professional business career. Through class discussion, written assignments, and small group evaluation of the work of other students, you will hone your ability to identify important rhetorical components of writing for business. Understanding and applying concepts such as audience, purpose, voice, and style will be emphasized, along with effective organization and design of documents common in business life. You’ll work on your resume, revise your resume, write a cover letter, and revise your cover letter. You will work on a real-life writing scenario, or case study and write a sensitive message. You will also bring in one piece of writing from outside the class for revision. You will compile a final portfolio of all the writing in the course.


Course Goals:


The goal of this course is to provide students with the rhetorical tools they will need to communicate effectively, particularly in writing, in the 21st century business community. With that goal in mind, students must realize that their varied careers and future career changes will challenge their writing skills in myriad ways. Effective analysis, the ability to incorporate research into that analysis, an understanding of audience, and a knowledge of how technology influences rhetorical business writing are all goals of the course.


Assignments and Grading:


Resume and Cover Letter 10% Outside Writing Assignment 10% Bad News Message 10% Quizzes 20% Class Prep/Materials/Peer Review 10% Final Portfolio 40% Class preparation and Attendance Expected


96 – 100 A
92 – 95 A
88 – 91 B+
84 – 87 B
80 – 83 B
76 – 79 C+
72 – 75 C
68 – 71 C
64 – 67 D+
60 – 63 D


Program policy states that missing more than 3 hours of class is grounds for automaticfailure. In a TTH class, this means missing two classes is grounds for automatic failure.




The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, 4th edition


Course Plan


Tuesday 3/29
Introduction, Rhetorical Triangle, Resumes, Assign Position Listing


Thursday 3/31
Bring Position Listing to Class Research/Cover Letters/Formatting Business Letters/Document Design/Using Active Voice


Tuesday 4/5
Peer & Instructor Review Cover Letter & Resume Have an electronic copy of each for review in the computer classroom.


Thursday 4/7
Final Draft of Resume and Cover Letter Due, along with Position Listing (Due to the D2L Dropbox before class.) In-class Quiz 1 (On Elements of Style, Chapters 1, 2, and 3.) Interviewing Assign & Discuss Outside Writing Assignment Writing Bad News or Sensitive Messages Practice Sensitive E-mail Case Study


Tuesday 4/12
E-mail Communication Strategies Finish Practicing Bad News Case Study Assign Sensitive E-mail Case Study


Thursday 4/14
In-class Quiz 2 (On Elements of Style, Chapters 4, 5, and glossary.) Peer & Instructor Review Sensitive E-mail Case Study (Bring 3 hard copies of your Sensitive E-mail to class)


Tuesday 4/19
Online Quiz 2 (On Elements of Style) Sensitive E-mail Assignment due to the D2L Dropbox before class.


Thursday 4/21
Peer & Instructor Review Outside Writing Assignment (Bring original assignment instructions & 3 hard copies to class.)


Tuesday 4/26
Final Portfolio Peer & Instructor Review Have an electronic copy of each item in your portfolio for review in the computer classroom.


Thursday 4/28
Final Portfolios Due to the D2L Dropbox before the end of class.


Additional Information:


The Writing Center


Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as-needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback-by-Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.


Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email. Obviously, the tutors will not necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.


Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you’ll receive. Bring your assignment handout and other relevant materials to your appointments.


Quick Links & Locations:
• To schedule an appointment at the Center’s LPC and Loop locations:
• To schedule Real-time conversations with IM and/or webcam:
• To request Feedback by Email:
• Loop Campus Office: 1620 Lewis Center, 312.362.6726
•Lincoln Park Office: 250 McGaw, 773.325.4272
•For more information, visit:


Exceptional Students


Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential. To ensure that you receive the most appropriate reasonable accommodation based on your needs, contact me as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted:


* The PLuS Program (for LD, AD/HD) at 773-325-1677, Student Center #370, and/or * The Office for Students with Disabilities (for all other disabilities) at 773-325-1677, Student Center #370


Attendance and Tardiness


Attendance is crucial to your success in this class, and in your life. If you are absent more than two times, you run the risk of failing this class. Coming to class late twice equals an absence. I take attendance and I keep track of latecomers. Students who have not attended class by the first regular class meeting after the last day to add will not be admitted to this class. Program policy states that missing more than 3 hours of class is grounds for failure.


Academic Integrity


Please review the university guidelines on student integrity found in the Student Handbook. If you plagiarize anything for this class, you will automatically fail. I will also be forced to sanction you formally through the University Academic Integrity office, which keeps a record of all such violations.


Other Issues of Note


1. Only one person at a time should be speaking during class. If we are having a class discussion, participants should expect others to listen with respect. During the infrequent lectures, I will be passing on vital information for your success in the class. I do not tolerate students who carry on separate conversations or whisper. Students who engage in such activity will leave the class and their next graded assignment reduced by one letter grade.
2. Turn off and put away your cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices before class begins. You must keep your electronic devices in your bag at all times. Students who display or use such devices in class will have their next graded assignment reduced by one letter grade and they will leave the class.
3. Please use the time between classes to use the facilities and get a drink from the water fountain. You may bring snacks and drinks to class. Students who enter and exit class during class time are disruptive—especially in small classrooms—and I do not tolerate such disruptions well. Students who engage in such activity will have their next graded assignment reduced by one letter grade.


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