Writing in the Professions: Business Writing
1. Catalog Description
104A. Writing in the Professions: Business Writing (4) Lecture/discussion—3 hours; extensive writing. Prerequisite: course 1 or English 3 or the equivalent and upper division standing. Business writing prepares students to communicate effectively in and for organizations, including businesses (corporations), government agencies, and non-profit organizations. This course is particularly suitable for students entering careers that require substantial communication, such as management, public relations, and grant writing. GE credit: Wrt (cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously).—I, II, III (I, II, III.)
2. Course Goals
- Understanding differences between academic and professional writing
- Examining various writing situations professionals face and analyzing contexts, purposes, and audiences to determine appropriate writing choices
- Gaining familiarity with genres of business writing, such as emails, instant messages, memos, letters, proposals, and reports
- Employing writing as a process, from researching a problem to organizing and drafting a document to reviewing, revising, and editing that document
- Developing an effective professional tone and style
- Employing rhetorical strategies for effective visual and document design
- Addressing ethical, cultural, international, and political issues related to writing
- Learning strategies for effective collaboration on large writing projects
- Learning proficiency in using computer-mediated communications
3. Entry Level
Students should have completed UWP 1 or ENL 3 or the equivalent and have upper-division standing. They should be familiar with the general principles of good writing, including organization, development, sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation.
4. Topical Outline
- Understanding the writing process
- Analyzing audiences
- Principles of writing to managers
- Principles of writing to customers/clients
- Principles of writing to co-workers
- Principles of writing to stockholders and other stakeholders
- Principles of writing to potential funders, such as grant agencies
- Using business genres
- Email and instant messaging
- Social media
- Job application materials
- Understanding personal factors influencing communication
- Beliefs and values
- Perceptual filters
- Decision-making strategies
- Creating relationships through writing
- The importance of feedback in communication
- Strategies for creating common ground with readers
- Strategies for mitigating the effects of negative information
- Strategies for international and intercultural communication
- Learning strategies for successfully managing collaborative writing tasks
- Presenting information verbally
- Upholding principles of ethical communication
- Understanding legal issues in business communication
- Understanding the effects of media on business practices
- Developing an effective writing style
- Being concise
- Being clear and specific
- Using verbs effectively
- Maintaining objectivity
- Writing clear and focused sentences
5. Criteria for grading
- The course will be graded by a letter grade.
- Grades will be based on the students' performance on in- and out-of-class writing assignments and on a final exam. Students will write a minimum of 6000 words; the number of assignments and the weight of each assignment will vary according to the instructor. The final exam will account for at least 10% of the grade, participation will account for no more than 10% of the grade, and in- and out-of-class writing assignments will account for at least 70% of the grade.
All sections will require a report, proposal, or other longer research-based project (10-15 pages). All sections will also require at least one assignment that integrates text and graphics. Instructors
may choose other assignments from among the following: professional profiles, interview reports, email correspondence, business letters (e.g., refusal, adjustment, sales), request memos, business proposals, executive summaries, memo reports, employment communications (e.g., cover letter, resume, interview follow-up letter), and similar work-oriented assignments.
6. Illustrative Reading
The suggested textbooks include the following:
- Alred, Brusaw, and Oliu, The Business Writer’s Handbook, Bedford/St. Martin’s.
- Kolin, Successful Writing at Work (Concise Edition), Houghton Mifflin.
- Olin, Brusaw, and Alred, Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job, Bedford/St. Martin’s.
7. Explanation of Potential Course Overlap
UWP 104A does not overlap with any other courses. UWP 104A is distinguished from UWP 101, Advanced Composition, by its focus on professional and work-related rhetorical situations and problem-solving strategies and by its different readings, writing assignments, and class activities. UWP 104A is distinguished from UWP 104E, Writing in the Professions: Science, by its emphasis on functional writing, writing for specific work-related audiences who must make decisions, perform tasks, and solve problems, rather than on writing whose primary purpose is to contribute to knowledge through proposing research or conveying research results.
UWP 104A is distinguished from UWP 104T, Writing in the Professions: Technical Writing, by its emphasis on writing geared towards maintaining and developing relationships with people (e.g., clients, customers, employees), rather than on writing geared towards helping people understand and use technology (e.g., software, hardware, new products).
8. Justification of Units
UWP 104A is a four-unit course. Three hours per week is lecture/discussion. 6 hrs. of outside prep goes with the 3 hrs. of lecture/discussion. An additional unit of credit is justified by the significant amount of work that students must do outside of class time to plan, draft, and revise the 6000 words of required writing (additional 3 hrs. of outside work). (The written amount is equivalent to a term paper.) In addition to this substantial written requirement, students will meet individually with the instructor for discussion and evaluation of their work.