|WRITING 340 ADVANCED WRITING for BUSINESS
Steve Byars, Ph.D. Fall 2006
ACC 306 N 66702
(213) 740-3371 MWF 8:00 a.m.
email@example.com HOH 404
Office Hours: Wednesdays, Fridays, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
and by appointment
Upper-Division Writing at USC
The university has a two-semester writing requirement, and Writing 340 Advanced Writing for Business is the course that satisfies the second semester of this requirement. All undergraduates have the shared experience of taking a version of Writing 340 here on campus. In our case specifically, this class intends to help you hone your writing skills in the context of the emphases within the business major. In addition, it means to allow you to explore—through reading, research, writing, and oral presentation—the applications that communications will have for you in business and the professions and especially its ethical dimensions.
This course builds upon the work that you did in Writing 140 Writing and Critical Reasoning (or its equivalent if you are a transfer student). While we will not spend much time reviewing what you covered in the predecessor course, I will implicitly draw upon the fundamentals that you mastered in it. Even though these two classes are separated chronologically by two or more years for most of you, they are very much linked together pedagogically and philosophically.
Writing 340 Advanced Writing emerged from the university’s Provost’s directive in 1997 that such a course be created. Among the guidelines established by the Provost for the class are these:
It will teach students to write for particular audiences, in distinct voices, and to use the writing process to explore complex ideas;
It will address disciplinary or professional issues with some concentration on writing for a non-specialist audience on issues of broad public concern;
It will instruct students in the writing of clear, grammatical, well-structured prose, in the discovery and conveying of complex ideas critically, and in appreciation of the nuances of good argument.
Goals and Objectives for Writing 340 Advanced Writing for Business
Over the semester we will
address the academic, public, and professional aspects of writing within the discipline and practice of business;
orally articulate and present aspects of written work;
engage in a small-group project intended to replicate the collaborative workplace of many firms and corporations.
In addition, you will
complete four out-of-class assignments as well as a non-graded diagnostic essay;
prudently select and revise with my counsel two papers for the purposes of an end-of-term portfolio;
participate in a brief oral presentation folded into the group project;
engage in a number of in-class writing and peer-review exercises.
The Writing 340-BUAD 302 Connection
Just as Writing 140 precedes and lays the foundation for Writing 340, so Writing 340 and BUAD 302 each serve as preparation for the other. As a Business major, you will take both 340 and 302, and you will find logic in the partnering of these two courses. In general, a close nexus exists between carefully crafted written communication and well-presented oral communication, and that is what the pairing of Writing 340 and BUAD 302 is intended to demonstrate. Here in 340 we will give greater precedence to clear written communication, and in 302 you will focus on oral and interpersonal communication, but you will observe great overlap between the two classes.
Alred, Gerald J., Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu. The Business Writer’s Companion, 4th ed.
Argenti, Paul A. Corporate Communication, 4th ed.
(The above texts are required. From time to time I will supplement them with selected materials from Joseph M. Williams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 8th ed., and Alred, Gerald J., Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu, The Business Writer’s Handbook, 7th ed. You need not purchase these supplementary books; I will relay the important information from them to you in class.)
As a student in this course, you will
attend class regularly, as attendance constitutes a portion of your grade. (See Grading Weights below on p. 3.)
complete all written and oral assignments plus a diagnostic essay, all of which must be submitted in timely fashion in order for you to have eligibility to turn in your portfolio at semester’s end. In addition, assignments must be accompanied by a complete set of research materials, drafts, outlines, citations (including Web sites), and any other pre-writing materials.
Please note in particular that Friday, December1, our last day of class, is the due date for the portfolio. While you may submit the portfolio early, I cannot accept it after the 1st.
participate in all in-class activities, such as free writing exercises and peer editing.
attend individual writing conferences, sometimes scheduled in lieu of class meetings.
Business Ethics Position Paper 15 % of course grade
(This is an analysis of a case or issue touching on business or professional
ethics. You will examine the crux of the conflict and the differing sides or
options, state your position, and then defend it persuasively.)
Trend Analysis or Current Issues Paper 15%
(Here you will write a brief research paper in which you explore a significant,
contemporary business issue or trend and advocate a position that your
audience ought to take in response to it.)
Critical Thinking Analysis 15%
(This assignment calls for you to analyze comprehensively material from
the Argenti text addressing business communications and to do so based
on the critical thinking methodology that we will emphasize in class.)
Group Project 20%
(Folded into this last assignment is a collaborative written report plus
oral presentation that is meant to simulate a small-team approach to
addressing a core business issue within or without a company. I will have
more details for you about this project later in the term.)
(You will select any two of the above [written] assignments and then
extensively revise them to constitute your portfolio.)
(This encompasses attendance, punctuality, preparation, discussion
participation, and conscientious engagement with the class as a whole.)
Evaluation of your Work
I promise to do my best to give you lucid assignments with explicitly stated expectations and then to evaluate your work as fairly and objectively as possible. (E.g., I’m not interested in your agreeing with me in terms of the positions that you take in our assignments. If I do my job correctly, you may not even know what my position is.) Further, I’ll earnestly try to return your papers to you within ten days of your submitting them to me. If, however, you believe that I have made an error in grading your work, you may within one week of the return of the graded assignment request that I re-evaluate it. In order to do so, write a brief memo to me in which you lay out the reasons why you think that you deserve a different grade and what that grade should be. I will consider such requests carefully and deliberately and then relay my decision to you.
You will have the opportunity to meet with me individually in support of each assignment that you write; in fact, specific conference meeting times may take the place of regular class meetings. My general request is that you bring with you to the conferences as much work on the papers as you will have accomplished up to the point that we meet. I will do my best to assist you no matter how much work you bring, but I guarantee that the more that you do upfront, the more that I will be able to help you. Please note, too, that participation in a writing conference does not insure that you will receive a certain grade on any particular paper. Conferences are usually very helpful to individual writers, but they do not guarantee high grades in and of themselves.
Professionalism and Protocols in Class
Attendance and punctuality are required in all Writing 340 classes, in part because the course is intended to function as a writing workshop or conference. For a professional business writer, workshops provide a format for obtaining essential critique of that which one is writing and for lending this, in turn, to other writers. To replicate this interactive atmosphere in class, each of us must attend. (And if you find that this rationale fails to convince you, another, perhaps even more pragmatic, reason to attend is that you will do better on the assignments if you are present for the information presented in class.)
Please observe due dates for papers. Assignments are due at the close of the business day stipulated in the calendar below. (See pp. 7-8 below. These dates are tentative; circumstances may cause them to change. If that were to happen, I would notify you about new dates as quickly as possible.) Generally and without a documented excuse that entails illness, participation in a university-sponsored event, transportation difficulties, or a family emergency, assignment grades will be lowered one grade step (e.g., from a B- to a C+) for each class day (e.g., from Monday to Wednesday) that they are late. Any other procedure would be unfair to those who sacrifice in order to submit their work on time.
Pay attention to your demeanor in class. More is expected of you than merely being physically present and on time. Please turn off your wireless phone, iPod, or any other electronic device that beeps or plays music, and do not use class time to catch up on the DT, WSJ, or any other reading that we are not discussing that particular day.
Actively engage in the class. You need not agree with me in our discussions or with the opinions of your colleagues. Indeed, I am going to encourage a genteel disagreement whenever it occurs. Still, never disparage the beliefs, dignity, or self-respect of those whom you feel to be wrong. Concerning the issues that we will be covering, all of the angels are not on one side and all of the devils on the other. These are themes about which reasonable people of good will may disagree, and I expect all of us to acknowledge this.
If you do your best to enter into discussion in this fashion, you will positively contribute to lively and engaging class meetings. Both your classmates and I will be grateful to you for doing so.
The USC Writing Center
Located in THH 321, the Writing Center, part of the Writing Program within the College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences, is an excellent resource for any writing assistance that you may require. This is not remedial help but rather that which would be useful for any college writer. Typically, you may schedule a thirty-minute appointment with a Consultant who is a graduate or professional student here at the university. (Some of the Consultants are MBA students within Marshall.) During the semester, the Center is open 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. on Friday. You may contact the Center at (213) 740-3691.
More than two years ago, the Center for Management Communication established an online journal whose student-written articles emerge principally from Writing 340 Advanced Writing for Business sections. This is Insight Business, and any student whose writing appears within it can legitimately claim to have been published in the traditional print sense. Please contact me if I can give you additional information about this publication.
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
You probably know that few academic sins are worse than that of plagiarism, as exhibited by the controversy in recent years surrounding the historians Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin as well as other scholars. No matter the quality of one’s written work, a substantiated charge of plagiarism casts a shadow over it from which it is very difficult—if not impossible—to recover.
The university mandates severe consequences for plagiarism. I will not knowingly tolerate any instance of it and will act appropriately when I discover it. Please consult the prohibition of plagiarism outlined on pp. 122-125 of SCampus 06/07 in the section, “Behavior Violating University Standards and Appropriate Sanctions”. In addition, pay close attention to the “Academic Integrity and Review Process” section that follows on pp. 129-130. Cases of alleged plagiarism usually end up being adjudicated by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, and the penalties to which a plagiarist may be subjected are well worth avoiding.
If you have any questions about precisely what constitutes plagiarism or illegitimate collaboration, please see me so that you may avoid them at all costs.
Retention of Graded Work
Returned papers or portfolios which are unclaimed by students four weeks after course grades are posted by the Registrar may be discarded. Thus if you wish to retrieve the graded work that you produce in our class, be sure to do so within a month after course grades appear. Please let me know, too, if you have a concern about having work forwarded to you after the term ends.
Students with Disabilities
Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP; once you have it, please deliver it to me as early as possible in the semester. You can reach DSP in STU 301 and by phone at (213) 740-0776. The office is open 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Rhetoric as a Discipline
Rhetoric is one of the oldest academic disciplines. In ancient Greece, it was primarily an oral science and usually took the form of public disposition within the agora (the marketplace), the courts, and the councils of government. The Romans inherited this tradition and emphasized its written component such that the written word eventually became more significant even than its oral counterpart (in part because, in the absence at that time of any device to capture oral presentation, the written record of it was a far more permanent means than memory of noting precisely what had been said). For instances of this classical tradition, see the eloquence that Plato, in the Apology, puts into the mouth of his teacher and mentor, Socrates, as the latter defends himself in court on capital charges or Cicero’s explication of oratory in De Oratore.
For our purposes, rhetoric may be described as the science of critical reasoning and persuasion in oral and written fashion. (As we witness elegant prose, however, we will probably agree that rhetoric is also an art.) In order to speak and write well, one must be able to think critically, read comprehensively, and revisit constantly one’s speech and writing in order to improve them. This is why writing is often referred to as a recursive process. That is, it is one that entails ongoing editing and revision—a returning to what one writes—in order to insure that it is as clear and concise as possible.
You can see that the link between commerce and effective communication skills—be they written or oral—is ancient and well established. It is into this tradition that we now step in our class. From experience I can attest to the intelligence, knowledge, and writing ability that most students bring with them to this course. At the same time, I firmly believe that writing well and persuasively is not easy for any of us. It is a skill that is sharpened only through lifelong practice, and this applies as much to me as to you. Hence I cannot guarantee that Writing 340 will be easy for you, or that you will readily obtain a high grade in it. Still, the rewards for those who strive to become accomplished writers are great, and I have never had a student who did not improve as a writer over the course of the term if he or she earnestly devoted time and effort to the tasks that we are about.
A Personal Note
I welcome you to this Writing 340 Advanced Writing for Business section and look forward to the semester before us. You will find me to be very accessible on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In addition to my regular office hours on Wednesdays and Fridays, I encourage you to call or e-mail me when you have questions about, or difficulties with, our work. To meet with you outside of class is part of my responsibility, and I will do my best to live up to it. If you need my counsel or feel that you would benefit from speaking with me, and if my posted times will not work for you, we will make alternate arrangements to meet. Fulfilling the responsibilities of this class is something that we will take on together.
CALENDAR FOR WRITING 340 ADVANCED WRITING for BUSINESS
and TENTATIVE DUE DATES for ASSIGNMENTS
WEEK MONDAY WEDNESDAY FRIDAY
1 August 21 August 23 August 25
Introduction to the class; read and discuss Argenti chapter 1 on the changing nature of business communication; distribute and discuss the first assignment; diagnostic essay in class on Friday, August 25.
2 August 28 August 30 September 1
Read and discuss Argenti c. 2 on strategic business communication; introduce and discuss that which constitutes ethics, especially in business; continue work on the first assignment.
3 September 4 September 6 September 8
Labor Day holiday, Monday, September 4—no class; individual conferences for the first assignment in lieu of class on Wednesday and Friday, September 6 and 8.
4 September 11 September 13 September 15
Individual conferences continue on Monday, September 11; workshop draft of first assignment on Wednesday, September 13; first assignment due on Friday, September15; distribute and discuss second assignment.
5 September 18 September 20 September 22
Meet in BRI 202 A on Monday, September 18, for research session with a Crocker Library information specialist; continue work on second assignment; read and discuss Argenti c. 4 on corporate image and reputation.
6 September 25 September 27 September 29
Exemplary writing from the first assignment on Monday, September 25; individual conferences for the second assignment in lieu of class on Wednesday and Friday, September 27 and 29.
WEEK MONDAY WEDNESDAY FRIDAY
7 October 2 October 4 October 6
More examples of exemplary writing on Monday, October 2; workshop draft of second assignment on Wednesday, October 4; second assignment due on Friday, October 6; distribute and discuss third assignment.
8 October 9 October 11 October 13
Read and discuss Argenti cc. 3 and 7 on internal and external corporate communications as the foundation for the third assignment; exemplary writing from the second assignment on Friday, October 13.
9 October 16 October 18 October 20
Continue analysis of Argenti cc. 3 and 7 for the third assignment on Monday, October 16; individual conferences for the third assignment in lieu of class on Wednesday and Friday, October 18 and 20.
10 October 23 October 25 October 27
Workshop draft of third assignment on Monday, October 23; third assignment due on Wednesday, October 25; distribute and discuss fourth assignment, the group project; designate groups for the fourth assignment.
11 October 30 November 1 November 3
Read and discuss Argenti cc. 5-6 on corporate advertising, media relations and communications; continue to work in groups in preparation of the group project and oral presentations; exemplary writing from the third assignment on Friday, November 3.
12 November 6 November 8 November 10
Read and discuss Argenti cc. 8-9 on investor and government relations; continue to work in groups in preparation of the group project and oral presentations; schedule individual conferences--as needed--for the fourth assignment.
13 November 13 November 15 November 17
Fourth assignment due from Chief Editors on Monday, November13; group presentations on Wednesday and Friday, November 15 and 17.
WEEK MONDAY WEDNESDAY FRIDAY
14 November 20 November 22 November 24
Read and discuss Argenti c. 10 on corporate crisis communication on Monday, November 20; Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday and Friday, November 22 and 24—no class.
15 November 27 November 29 December 1
Individual conferences for the portfolio in lieu of class on Monday and Wednesday, November 27 and 29; meet in class on Friday, December1, when portfolio is due.