EH 240W: Business and Technical Writing
Spring 2012 | Section 02: TR 1:10-2:25 | KHIC 035

Dr. Rodney F. Dick, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of English

Office: 468 Chapman Hall | Office Hours: MWF 2:00-3:00 and by appointment
Phone: (330) 823-4792 (Office) | (330) 823-2397 (English Department)
Email: | Syllabus online at:

Go to the ANGEL site for this class.

Course Goals OR "If I'm not an English Major, why do I have to take a writing course?"
The ability to write, and write well, is one of the criteria most often cited by prospective employers as they sift through the hundreds of resumes looking for that ONE perfect candidate. In fact, writing is more than JUST a skill--if good writing consisted of nothing more than simply a checklist of items on a sheet of paper, then anyone could do it well. But, we all know, many people consider themselves to be bad writers and do it only when required; some avoid it at all costs. Yet, writing in the workplace is increasing; and those who can do it well are more likely to "climb" that company ladder faster. To this end, there are two related goals for you in the course. First, you will learn to appreciate the important role that effective writing (and by extension effective use of language, in general) plays in the workplace environment. Second, you will gain confidence as a writer as you learn about the kinds of writing (and writing situations) in the workplace and develop familiarity with critiquing, producing, and revising them.

This is NOT a business course; it IS a writing course (my PhD is in Rhetoric and Writing not Business). Business and Sport Business students have most frequently taken this course. However, English and Communication majors and minors sometimes take it, as well. This course has been created cooperatively and is supported by the University; the Economics, Accounting, & Business Administration Department; the English Department; Human Performance and Sport Business, and other departments on campus. This course is not designed to teach you content from your majors; instead, the course is designed to enhance your writing for professional purposes.

Because you will have a variety of career goals and professional positions in mind, the course will deal both with more generalized principles and forms AND with contextual, individualized kinds of work. The level of differentiation from one career track to another will be productive and useful because it will provide you with opportunities to widen your range of knowledge, which is always an asset in the workplace.

Why this is a “W” Course
Writing-intensive courses at the University of Mount Union are required so students get some exposure to the ways in which writing works in at least three different disciplines. The way you need to write depends on a number of factors, including the discipline in question, the context and purpose for writing, and your intended audience. It’s important for you to learn how writing needs to take into account these factors, as there are not only different kinds of writing in different disciplines, but different kinds of writing within each discipline. Courses that carry the “W” designation do not necessarily require more writing, but they do require you to pay attention to how writing works in three academic disciplines, and discussions about writing will be embedded into their course structures. In “W” courses, you will be asked to work on developing your writing and your understanding of writing in a particular discipline.

Writing Resources
There are numerous resources on campus to help you succeed in a writing-intensive course. Make use of your professor’s office hours to review concepts and drafts at multiple stages. Make and keep appointments at the Writing Center—tutors can help you brainstorm writing ideas and they can provide feedback on specific aspects of your writing if you take your assignment sheet with you and don’t’ wait until the last minute. In addition, you can draw on the knowledge you’ve gained about writing from your college writing course. You should form a writing group with other members of your class to discuss writing assignments, brainstorm ideas, read drafts, and provide feedback. Writing does not take place in a vacuum; it is a social event that is shaped by and shapes those around you. Mount Union’s liberal arts curriculum can help you learn to write well in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes, if you take advantage of the instruction and resources available; they will serve you well at UMU and beyond.

Required Texts

In addition, everyone should have a handbook.  The current handbook recommended by the UMU English Department is: Raimes, A. (2010). Keys for writers: A brief handbook.  6th Ed.  New York: Houghton Mifflin. (3rd, 4th, and 5th editions are acceptable.) If you do not wish to purchase one for yourself, copies are available in the library and at the Writing Center.

Course Work
The work for the course will consist of the following assignments and projects:


Quizzes and Exams

Miscellaneous Work

Final grading for the course will be based on the following point system:


Email Revision


Policy Memo


Resume and Cover Letter


Instructions Revision

Quizzes and Exams
Reading Quizzes (18 x 5)

Mid-Term Exam


Final Exam


Miscellaneous Work


Activities and Assignments (9 x 5)




Reading Response Blog Posts (up to 40 points extra credit)

*Extra Credit

The final grade will be calculated based on the following scale:

B+ = 87-90% C+ = 77-80% D+ = 67-70%
A = 94-100% B = 84-86% C = 74-76% D = 64-66%
A- = 90-93% B- = 80-83% C- = 70-73% D- = 60-63%
F = below 60%

Documentation Style
Because the content of this course is writing in the scientific, technical, and business professions, when you write about research you're doing and incorporate sources into reports, essays and exams, you will use APA documentation style. APA style is covered in the Raimes handbook and will be discussed in class.

Absence and Tardiness
The most concise way to describe this policy is to simply say that students are expected to be in class, on time, and prepared. There are no excused absences in this course, only those without penalty. Students can miss class up to three times without penalty. Four absences will reduce the student’s final grade by one half a letter grade (e.g., A to A-). Five absences will reduce the student’s final grade by one full grade letter (e.g., A to B). Six absences or more can result in automatic failure for the course.

Being on time is as important as being in class. Students will not be penalized for infrequent tardiness (avoid being late to class as much as is possible). However, excessive tardiness may bring the absence policy into play—three tardies can be counted as one absence, four tardies as two absences, and so on. This policy will be enacted completely at the professor’s discretion.

Class Participation
Participating in class means that students will be in class and on time. It also means that students are prepared for class, have done the required readings, have sufficient copies made where necessary, participate honestly and cooperatively in class activities, and contribute regularly to class discussion. These are not unusual requirements, but rather they are the expected norm for class participation at the college level. THIS CLASS IS AN ACTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. This means that students will be actively involved in running the class, making choices about readings, lead the class discussions and activities, as well as shape the projects.

Writing Center Policy
Writers are often limited when it comes to making decisions about their writing because they cannot see past their own biases. Moreover, research indicates that writers tend to miss nearly 10% of the usage and grammatical errors. In this course, as a way to promote a more critical sensibility of your writing, revision, and editing, you are REQUIRED to go to the Writing Center at least one time for each major project. This visit must be documented (bring in the signed "Session Form") and must occur no less than two (2) hours before the project is due in class. If this requirement is not completed, the grade on the project will be reduced by 5%, which cannot be earned back through revision.

About the Writing Center. Located in room 233 of the KHIC, the Writing Center offers tutorial assistance to MUC students across disciplines, academic levels, and abilities. Staffed by peer tutors, it provides responsive support adaptable to the needs of most student writers. The Writing Center can help student writers in any stage of the writing process, anywhere from thinking about an assignment to editing and proofreading a paper. Writing tutors are experienced academic writers from widely varied disciplines and majors, so they can help with creating research papers, writing lab reports, preparing for essay exams, revising resumes and cover letters, and most other writing tasks. Writing Center tutors are trained to help students improve their written work; more importantly, tutors are trained to enable students' better understanding of the writing process, of writing at the college level, and of their individual strengths and needs as writers.  This service is available by appointment (call ext. 3560 or stop by). Make an appointment online:

Sunday: 6 - 10 PM
Monday-Thursday: 9 AM - 10 PM
Friday: 9 AM - 3 PM
Saturday: Closed

FYE Writing Center
FYE students can also take advantage of the FYE Writing Center Satellite located in the Faculty Office in Cunningham Hall. The FYE WC will be open for drop-in hours and operate on by a first-come, first-served basis.

Revision Policy
Papers and projects meeting course requirements will be graded by the instructor and turned back to the students in a timely manner. You can choose to revise any major project (except the reading responses, process work, activities/assignments, quizzes, and exams) once. Revised drafts are always due one week after the original project is returned to you (e.g., revisions of a project returned on Feb. 19th would be due by 11:59 pm on Feb. 27th). If you are absent the day that a project is returned, it is your responsibility to seek me out to retrieve the project; the revision will still be due one week from the date it was returned in class, regardless of when you get it back from me. In addition, if you wish to resubmit revised projects for a grade reconsideration, you must hold a personal one-on-one conference with me (at least one day before the revision is due) AND visit the Writing Center specifically for that assignment revision at least 2 hours before the draft is to be turned in for grade reconsideration.

Whenever a revised draft is submitted, it must include:

Remember that editing and revising are not the same. Revising means that substantive changes have been made in the content or arrangement of information in the paper. Punctuation, spelling, grammar corrections are important parts of revising, but they do not constitute a revision unless they are accompanied by other significant changes.

When a revised draft is accepted, there is no guarantee that the grade will improve (though it usually does). The higher grade will count towards the final grade. Revised drafts will not be accepted if they are late or incomplete (this includes the revised critical memo or visit to the Writing Center). Students may resubmit a project for grade reconsideration only once after I have graded it. Remember individual conferences are required for all revisions.

Grade Appeals
Should a student feel as though a grade on a particular assignment is unfair or inaccurate, that student has the option of writing a “Grade Appeal Letter” to the professor. This letter should identify the student, the work in question, the grade assigned, and a detailed explanation of why the grade should be changed, to what grade it should be changed, and how that new grade was identified. Students retain the right and are encouraged to review course records whether they choose to appeal a grade or not.

Course Misconduct and Plagiarism
All work done for this course must be written by you specifically and originally for this class. Plagiarism is the active and deliberate attempt to pass off someone else's ideas and / or words as your own. Students caught cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise violating MUC codes of conduct or the policies outlined in this syllabus will be disciplined appropriately (and swiftly). Take this seriously; your professor does; the consequences for fraudulent, and even sloppy, work are too serious. 

Late and Missing Work
Students have the option of turning in their written work in hard copy or, when requested and approved by me in advance, electronically via ANGEL or email. Regardless of the form, all required assignments and projects must be turned in on-time and complete. Not fully following assignment requirements, computer/software incompatibility, not saving documents properly, and problems printing do not qualify as viable reasons for not having work ready on time. In addition, please keep all draft work, as I may ask to see draft work in addition to the final copy of any project. Failure to provide draft work, if requested, may result in a "0" grade for the project. Finally, it is your responsibility to contact me if the established due dates cannot be met for professional or personal reasons. Exceptions can be made only by my discretion and on an individual basis.


Appropriate Computer and Cellular Phone Use
Meeting for regular classes in a computer lab has its benefits (e.g., you can type quizzes and exams out in class and, on occasion, will be given class time to do research and write). However, the glow of the LCD can also be very seductive at times, as can the draw to stay "plugged in." My policy for appropriate use of computers during class time is very simple: you are allowed to use your computer during class time to participate in class (referring to online readings, completing activities and assignments, writing, when allowed to, taking quizzes, etc.). However, you are not allowed to use the computer for personal or non-class-related activities during class time. This means checking your email, surfing, chatting, doing homework for other classes, and a whole lot of other things I could list but hopefully don't need to. If you wish to use the computers for these activities, come to class early or stay a little late. The consequences of misuse are severe:

Similarly, the use of cellular phones in class (for making and receiving calls and texting) is prohibited. All students are asked to put phones away (in a bag or a pocket) during class. You are allowed to keep you phone on vibrate while class is in session. However, I reserve the right to confiscate cellular phones from any students who choose to disobey this policy. If you are expecting a call or text that constitutes an emergency, please notify me before class, and you will be allowed to excuse yourself from class. In short, stay on task and please be respectful and courteous.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all qualified students enrolled in this course are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Student Accessibility Services (SAS) coordinates services and accommodations for students with disabilities based on appropriate documentation, nature of disability, and academic need. In order to initiate services, students should meet with the Director of SAS at the start of the semester to discuss reasonable accommodation. If a student does not request accommodation or provide documentation, the faculty member is under no obligation to provide accommodations. You may contact the Director of Student Accessibility Services in Room 90 Hoover-Price Campus Center; by phone at (330) 823-7372; or through e-mail at

Note: I reserve the right to suspend or change any of the aforementioned policies at his discretion. While this syllabus is as complete as possible, changes may occur and I reserve the right to make changes in grading, scheduling, and assignments, as I deems necessary or prudent to better promote the goals of the course and the needs of the students.

Course Schedule

Note: Readings and projects are due at the beginning of the class on the day assigned. All assignments MUST be typed and printed out before class begins (when appropriate).

BLUE = Web Links (as links) | RED = Major due dates | GREEN = Activity (in-class); Assignment (homework, hand-in) | BOLD = Important date/event
[SBTW] = readings in: Harty, J. Strategies for business and technical writing | [HO] = handed out in class | [OR] = on reserve through ANGEL

Week 1
Introduction to the class and Background and the Rhetorical Situation
T (Jan. 10) Introduction to the class  

Reading Quiz (syllabus) 1--Take Home


Background: The Why and How of Writing in the Professions

Purpose and Audience

Keenen, J. Using PAEFO planning [SBTW]

Adelstein, M. E. The writing process [SBTW]

Zinsser, W. Writing in your job [HO]

Reading Quiz 2

Week 2 The Rhetorical Situation (Audience, Purpose, Style, Format, and Design), cont.
T (Jan. 17) Style

Jones, D. Understanding technical writing style [OR]

Fielden, J. S. [SBTW]

Swift, M. H. [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 3
TH Email

Hafner, K. Tracking the evolution of e-mail etiquette [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 4

Hand out: Email Revision Project

Activity 1: In class. Critiquing and revising a sample email

Week 3 Basic Business Correspondence
T (Jan. 24) Email, continued

Dillon, S. What corporate america can't build: A sentence [ANGEL]

Gerson, S. J. & Gerson, S. M. [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 5

TH Memoranda Lewis, D. V. Making your correspondence get results [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 6

Activity 2: In class. Workshop drafts of Email Revision Project

Week 4 Basic Business Correspondence, continued 
T (Jan. 31) Memoranda and other correspondence

Ewing, D. W. Strategies of persuasion [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 7

Due: Email Revision Project

Hand out: Policy Memo Project

TH Policy Statements as proposals

Mathes, J. C., & Stevenson, D. W. Audience analysis: The problem and a solution [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 8

Activity 3: Audience analysis; background research into "Half-Day" Friday

Week 5 Basic Business Correspondence, continued
T Feb. 7) Policy Statements as proposals, cont.

Chase, S. Gobbledygook [SBTW]

Plain English Campaign Website [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 9


Policy memos as proposals, cont.

Johnson-Sheehan, R. Writing proposals with style [HO]

Vinci, V. [SBTW]

Reading Quiz 10--hand out "revision" assignment

In-class: Workshop on "revision" assignment

Week 6 Selling Yourself as a Professional
T (Feb. 14)

Selling Yourself as a Professional: Resumes and Cover Letters

Discuss Resumes and Cover Letters

Activity 4: In class. Workshop drafts of Policy Memo Project

Hand out: Resume and Cover Letter Project

TH Resumes

Munschauer, J. L. Writing resumes and letters in the language of the employers [SBTW]

Sorkin, A. R. College and money: And never lie about your grades [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 11

Due: Policy Memo Project

Week 7 Selling Yourself as a Professional, continued
T (Feb. 21) Resumes, cont.

Reep, D. C. [SBTW]

Yate, M. [SBTW]

McMurrey, D. A. Resumes [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 12

Activity 5: Find a job ad; background research into company and position.


Cover Letters


Graber, S. The basics of a cover letter [SBTW]

McMurrey, D. A. Application letters [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 13

Week 8 Selling Yourself as a Professional, continued
T (Feb. 28)

Cover Letters, cont.

Review for Mid-Term

Look at examples of cover letters

TH Mid-Term Exam none Mid-Term Exam
Week 9  
T (Mar. 6)




Week 10  
T (Mar. 13)

Document Design as a Rhetorical Act

Kimball, M. A., & Hawkins, A. R. Document design [ANGEL] Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 1-38). Reading Quiz 14

Applying Design to Sample Documents

Resume and Cover Letters as Visual Texts

Look at sample visual/textual documents



Week 11 Document Design as a Rhetorical Act, continued
T (Mar. 20)

Critiquing the Resume and Cover Letter


Activity 6: Workshop drafts of Resume and Cover Letter


(Gone for a conference)



Week 12 Instructions as Visual/Textual Documents
T (Mar. 27) Typography and Design Film: in class. Watch Helvetica.

Reading Quiz 15 (in class)

Due: Resume and Cover Letter Project

TH Instructions as Visual/Textual Documents Instructions on designing instructions [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 16 (also Activity #7 below)

Hand out: Instructions Revision Project

Week 13 Instructions as Visual/Textual Documents, cont.

T (Apr. 3)

Instructions: Task Analysis McMurrey, D. A. Task Analysis [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 17

Activity 7: Visual analysis of sample document due in class (also Quiz #16)


Instructions: Learning the Software (Publisher) none Activity 8: Task Analysis
Week 14 Instructions as Visual/Textual Documents, cont.
T (Apr. 10) Instructions: Steps & Format

McMurrey, D. A. Instructions [ANGEL]

McMurrey, D. A. User Guides [ANGEL]

Reading Quiz 18

Work on Instructions Revision Project--In class

TH Instructions, cont. | Screen Captures none Work on Instructions Revision Project--In class
Week 15 Instructions as Visual/Textual Documents, cont.
T (Apr. 17)

SCHOLAR Day/Honors Convocation


Instructions, cont.

Review for Final



Activity 9: In class. Workshop drafts of Instructions Revision Project

Hand out: Final Exam Take-Home (if applicable)

Weeks 16&17 Reading Day & Finals

T (Apr. 24)



Due: Instructions Revision Project (email to me)

T (May 1)



Final Exam: Tuesday, May 1, 1:00-4:00 pm

Due: Instructions revision (optional)

Related Links

Site created and maintained by Dr. Rodney F. Dick
English Department; University ofMount Union
Last updated on Jan. 7, 2012.