Schedule for Professional Writing, Fall 2020

Below are the planned due dates* and links to assignments for Professional Writing, an undergraduate course on workplace writing.


Week 1, 8/24 to 8/30, Course Kickoff/Intros



Assignments & Due Dates

  1. Review the assignment guidelines for the Document Makeover
  2. Select a syllabus for redesign/revision/editing
  3. By Wednesday, 8/26, submit a Discussion Post in Canvas
    • Note this post is graded complete/incomplete. The goal here is to kick off the class with a bit of an introduction and then to ask students to reflect on the importance of setting/occasion on decision making and openness to information. For this first public post to your classmates, try to develop a You-Centered Business Style. Avoid big blocks of texts. Review Document Design. In approximately 200 words,
      • introduce yourself
      • share with your classmates an interesting story about a specific occasion when someone misread or misjudged a rhetorical situation. This example can come from your personal experience, the public domain, the workplace domain.
        • Example: In public discourse, there is now great scrutiny about how health organizations and governments around the world responded to COVID. Over the past four or five months, have you read or heard about an interesting occasion where the rhetor (the writer or speaker) responded oddly to an exigency?
  4. By Sunday (at the latest), 9/30, upload to Canvas a Rhetorical Analysis Memo of the syllabus. Please also include a copy of the syllabus in your upload.
Note: Unless otherwise specified, projects are due by Sunday evenings at 12 p.m. Typically, peer reviews and class discussions are due on Wednesdays.

Week 2, 8/31 to 9/6, What is Technical Writing?



  1. Design
    1. Charts and Graphs
    2. Data Visualization
    3. Page Design
    4. Pictures and Photographs
    5. Principles of Design
    6. Typography
    7. White Space
  1. Styles of Writing
    1. Reader-Based Style
      1. You-Centered Business Style
      2. What to Think about When Writing for a Particular Audience
    2. Substantive Prose Style
    3. Technical Writing Prose Style*
    4. Page Design
  2. Elements of Style
    1. Brevity, Clutter, Concision
      1. Writing Concisely and Avoiding Redundancy
    2. Clarity, Simplicity
      1. Flow, Coherence, Unity
      2. Avoid Unnecessary Shifts in Point of View
      3. Avoid Unnecessary Shifts in Verb Tense
      4. Choppy Writing
      5. Creating Flow via Repetition
      6. Read Your Paper Aloud to Check Cohesiveness
      7. Strategic Sentence Structure

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. Revise the syllabus you have selected for the document makeover
  2. By Wednesday, upload a discussion post on Attributes of Professional Writing vs. Academic Writing. For this exercise:
    1. Read Professional Writing Style
      1. Locate an example of a document you consider to be technical writing. This might be correspondence, journal articles, lab reports, web pages, advertisements, videos, manuals, instructions, etc.
      2. Upload a copy of your sample here. You can paste a link, attach a Word or PDF document, take a photo on your cell phone and attach it; whatever is easy and makes sense for your situation)
      3. Discuss the ways your document does – or does not – reflect the characteristics of technical communication and the basic standards of good technical communication.
  3. By Sunday, 9/6, upload as one document the 4 Deliverables associated with The Document Makeover
    1. the original syllabus
    2. a revised version of your Rhetorical Analysis Memo
    3. your syllabus revision
    4. your Project Completion Memo

Week 3, 9/8 to 9/13, Peer Reviews of the Document Makeover



  1. Critique
    1. Consider Feedback
    2. Navigate Feedback
    3. Provide Feedback in Group Situations
    4. Provide Feedback to Others
    5. Why Meet with a Writing Tutor?
  1. Peer Review
    1. In-class Peer Review
    2. Tutorials on using Peer Review in Canvas
      1. How do I know if I have a peer review assignment to complete?
      2. How do I submit a peer review to an assignment?
      3. Where can I find my peers’ feedback for peer-reviewed assignments?

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 9/9,
    • For the other students in this class, write something interesting about peer review and upload it to the Canvas discussion board for this week’s required post. Write a minimum of 200 words and a maximum of 250 words. Remember to apply professional writing design principles to your post (e.g., deductive hook, paragraphs, headers, bullets, etc.) You may find it useful to write it in Word and spell check it rather than the Discussion Forum. You could run the text past a tool like Grammarly).

      To find something interesting about peer review, you may need to do a bit of preliminary research. For instance, you could reflect on how peer review is used (or not used) in your academic major? Or, you could research peer review practices in your desired career. Or, you could write about one of the new amazing tool that are now available to facilitate collaboration in the workplace.
  2. By Wednesday, 9/9, complete peer reviews of two peers’ Project 1 deliverables.

    When reviewing your peer’s work at this early stage of development, don’t focus on local, editorial concerns. Rather, focus on substantive, global matters, such as
    1. How could your peer’s rhetorical analysis mebe improved? Did your understand your peer’s discussion of about faults with the original?
    2. Does the project completion memo clarify why the author made the redesign/revisions s/he did?
  3. By 9/13, upload the four Project 1 deliverables to Canvas. Please upload these documents as separate units in this order:
    1. Project Completion Memo
    2. Rhetorical Analysis Memo
    3. Revised Syllabus
    4. Original Syllabus.


Week 4, 9/14 to 9/20, Team Project Kickoff

For this week you will complete 3 exercises that will help you prepare for the final Recommendation Report Assignment:
1. Problem Definition
2. Pitch
3. Team Charter.

In some workplace contexts, the rhetorical situation for a problem definition, pitch, and team charter may be clear: there’s a problem, a business opportunity, and it’s your job to engage in preliminary research, textual research, and original research to identify best solutions.

In contrast, sometimes rhetorical situations are murkier: sometimes writers, symbol analysts, experience a problem, they know there must be a better solution, a better mouse trap, but they don’t really know what that solution is. They may not even know who the potential clients are. While murky situations like this can be time-consuming to explore, they can also be potentially rewarding.

For this project, what you consult on and how you consult is up to you. You could work for a marketing company and your job is to come up with a marketing plan for a client. Or, you could be an entrepreneur and interested in pitching a new business thesis. Perhaps there is a nonprofit business you would like to contribute hours to. Or perhaps you have a friend who is trying to build a startup.


  • Collaboration and Teamwork


  1. Read the project assignment pages for the four major deliverables associated with Project 2:
  2. Teamwork
    1. Tools for Project Management
  3. Collaboration
  4. Co-authorship
  5. Conflict Resolution
  6. Critique
    1. Consider Feedback
    2. Navigate Feedback
    3. Provide Feedback in Group Situations
    4. Provide Feedback to Others
    5. Why Meet with a Writing Tutor?
  7. Growth Mindset
    1. Faith in the Writing Process
    2. Play the Believing Game
  8. Intellectual Openness
    1. Demystify Writing Misconceptions
  9. Metacognition & Self-Regulation
    1. Establish a Comfortable Place to Write
    2. Overcome Discouragement
    3. Reflect on Your Writing
    4. Planning Technical Documents
  10. Professionalism & Work Ethic
    1. Establish a Comfortable Place to Write
    2. Scheduling Writing
  11. Resilience

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Wednesday, 9/16, submit the Problem Definition to the group-discussion forum.
  2. By Friday, 9/18, prior to your kickoff meeting, submit The Pitch to the group you have been assigned to (see Canvas)
  3. Hold your kickoff meeting at a time mutually agreeable to your team. By Sunday, 9/20 at the latest, submit the Team Charter
  4. Agree to Team Workplace and begin developing Team Workplace
Google Folders & Google Docs
Given this is an eight week project, you mind easiest to use Google’s Folders and Docs. If you do so and if you wish

Week 5, 9/21 to 9/27, Persuasion, Argument & Proposal Writing

Your goal in Week 5, the second week of the Consulting Simulation, is to work with your team to write the Research Proposal.


  • Argument & Persuasion


  1. Proposal Writing Basics
  2. Rhetorical Elements of Argument
    1. Backing
    2. Counterargument
    3. Claim
    4. Grounds
    5. Qualifier
    6. Warrant
  3. Rhetorical Appeals
    1. Beware of “Oh, that makes sense”: Ethos in Context
    2. Diplomacy, Tone, and Emphasis in Business Writing
    3. Ethos
    4. Fallacious Ethos
    5. Fallacious Logos
    6. Fallacious Pathos
    7. Intrinsic Authority
    8. Logos
    9. Netiquette (Digital Ethics)
    10. Pathos
    11. Rhetorical Appeals: A Checklist for Writers
    12. Rhetorical Appeals: An Overview
    13. Taking Control: Managing Your Online Identity for the Job Search
    14. Using Pathos in Persuasive Writing

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By 9/27, upload Research Proposal Assignment

Week 6, 9/28 to 10/4, Textual Research

Your third week of the Consulting Simulation is all about Textual Research. Investigators engage in Information Literacy Perspectives and Textual Research.


  1. Information Literacy
  2. The CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose)
    1. Accuracy
    2. Authority
      1. Avoid the Use of Unsupported Opinions as Evidence
      2. How Are Your Sources Using Sources?
      3. News or Opinion?
      4. Non-traditional Types of Evidence
      5. Provide Background Information About the Researcher’s Method
      6. Popular vs. Scholarly Source
      7. Currency
      8. Purpose
      9. Relevance
  3. Textual Research Methods
  4. Information Literacy Perspectives & Practices
    1. Authority is Constructed & Contextual
    2. Information Creation as a Process
    3. Information Has Value
      1. Intellectual Property
      2. Plagiarism
      3. Attribution, Citation, & References
        1. Research as Inquiry
        2. Divide and Conquer: Rethinking Your Approach to Research
    4. Scholarship as a Conversation
      1. Conversation between Sources
        1. Sticking Your Nose In: Positioning Yourself in Academic Writing
        2. Understanding How Conversations Change Over Time
    5. Searching as Strategic Exploration
      1. Annotated List of Useful Online Resources
      2. Finding and Examining the Sources in Your Sources
      3. Preliminary Research
      4. Search Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
      5. Seek Help from Librarians
      6. Smart Searching
      7. Understanding Library Resources
      8. Understanding URLs
        1. Understanding URLS (Exercise Answers)
      9. Using Databases: Periodical Indexes and Abstracts
  5. Literacy
    1. Cognitive, Intrapersonal, and Interpersonal Competencies
    2. Digital Literacy
      1. Digital Footprints: Public Writing and Social Identities
      2. Social Media Mythbusters
    3. Quantitative Literacy
    4. Visual Literacy
      1. Animation
      2. Breaking Down an Image

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By 10/4, upload Research Summaries Exercise

Week 7, 10/5 to 10/11, Primary Research

Congrats. You are now in Week 4 of the Consultancy Simulation. This week your goal is to conduct empirical research for the Consulting Simulation. This is your opportunity to use the tools of social scientists and scientists (surveys, focus groups, usability studies, and case studies) to help your team learn more about the problem, including likely causes, effects, and potential solutions.


  1. Research
  2. Research Ethics
    1. Human Subjects Research
    2. Informed Consent
    3. IRB (Institutional Review Board)
  3. Research Methodology
  4. Research Methods
    1. Empirical Research Methods
      1. Qualitative Research Methods
        1. Case Study
        2. Ethnography
        3. Participant Observation
      2. Quantitative Research Methods
        1. Corpus Linguistics Analysis, A Bird’s Eye View of Writing
        2. Survey Research
      3. Mixed Methods
      4. Usability & User Experience Research
    2. Informal Research Methods

Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By 10/11, upload Empirical Research Exercise

Week 8, 10/12 to 10/18, Progress Reports

The fifth week of the Consultancy Project is a major milestone. Congrats. Your team is now halfway to the finishing line.

This week your team will complete and submit
1. a presentation on your team’s progress
2. the front half of your Recommendation Report

Note: You will receive one grade for this project. 95% of the grade will be based on the video presentation; 5% will be based on the draft of the Recommendation Report Assignment

Project Management Tip
Half (or 2/3rds) of your team may want to focus on the presentation and and the other half (or 1/3rd) of your team could focus on the draft.


Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By Sunday, 10/18, complete the two deliverables for the Progress Report Assignment

Week 9, 10/19 to 10/25, Peer Reviews

The goal this week is to get some feedback from other teams and to finish drafting the back half of the Recommendation Report

Sometimes people wait till a document is complete before getting reviews. The problem with that approach is by that point you aren’t really interested in critique. The advantage to engaging in critique now is you’ll see how other teams are handling The Consulting Simulation Project. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn from other people.

Assignments & Due Dates

Peer Review, as most of you explored in an earlier discussion post, is a vital workforce competency. Giving and getting critique can be challenging for employees and managers, particularly after teams have worked hard under deadlines to overcome obstacles and work as a team.

For this exercise, I ask that you

  1. review at least three other teams’ early drafts for their recommendation reports (see this Gdoc page.)
  2. write three critiques, one for each of the recommendation reports you reviewed. Limit each critique to between 75 and 100 words.
  3. publish your critiques at the Canvas Discussion forum linked for this assignment.

For each critique, I ask that you adopt a global perspective rather than a local perspective. You don’t need to address style, grammar, mechanics, punctuation. Instead, work to provide thoughtful, insightful criticism about the depth and appropriateness of the textual and empirical research employed by the investigators. Address substantive concerns, such as whether the problem definition seems well developed and whether the potential solutions seem like meaningful responses to the problem.

Week 10, 10/26 to 11/1, Finalizing the the Recommendation Report

Now that you are in the final week of the Consulting Simulation, your team to finalize revisions and edits of your Recommendation Report. Plus, you need to finish your Team Evaluation Memo.


Assignments & Due Dates

  1. By 11/1, upload Recommendation Report Assignment
  2. By 11/1, upload the Team Evaluation Memo
Congrats! You have completed the Consulting Simulation!


Week 11, 11/2 to 11/8, Video Pitch

This week you will want to first become comfortable with the genre of infographics and the requirements of The Infographic Project. By week’s end, you will develop and submit a video pitch to the Discussion Forum at Canvas in the Course Management System. Your pitch to identify a possible topic and possible sources of evidence for either a quantitative or narrative infographic.


By Sunday, 11/8, submit your Video Pitch for an infographic to the Discussion Board @ Canvas.

Week 12, 11/9 to 11/15, Draft the Infographic

[Veteran’s Day Holiday, 11/11]
Your primary goal this week is to finalize a solid draft of your infographic and to begin drafting your Memo on Design Choices.


By Sunday, 11/15,

  1. Upload your infographic or the url that directs to it at the Course Management System
  2. Upload an outline or a draft of your Memo on Design Choices.
  3. Provide a link to your infographic at this gDoc.

Week 13, 11/16 to 11/22, Peer Review

This week you have two tasks:

1. This week you are required to conduct two peer reviews of two other students’ or teams’ infographics and corresponding memos justifying their design choices. Please follow the peer-review guidelines published @ Peer Review of Infographics.

2. Work on developing your Memo on Design Choices


By Thursday 11/19,

  • Go to this gDoc and add the URL(s) linking to your infographic & design memo.

By Sunday 11/22,

  1. Share your critique, which should be based on the peer-review guidelines published @ Peer Review of Infographics.
  2. Post your critique to the Discussion Board on Canvas.

Week 14, 11/23 to 11/25, Holiday

Thanksgiving Holiday: Thurs, Nov 26 & Fri, Nov 27, 2020

Take the holiday off. Enjoy yourself. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful holiday!

Week 15, 11/30 to 12/6, Submit Project 3

This week you finalize the two major deliverables associated with Project 3, The Infographic Project.


By 12/1, submit

  1. Infographic (The Infographic Project)
  2. Memo on Design Choices

I hope you found our work useful to your future career. Please don’t forget to take a moment to complete a course evaluation at Explorance Blue, the course-evaluation software for this course, which is accessible from Canvas.

Week 16, 12/6 to 12/10, Final Exams

Congratulations! You have finished the course! There is no final examination in this class. There is no additional work due for Professional Writing.

*Please note this schedule may be changed at the discretion of the professor. To see the most up to date version of this schedule, you may need to clear the cache in your browser or try a different browser. Also, please note that the hyperlinks links in the text below take you to quick-reference support materials. You don’t have to follow/read these links unless you need a term explained or need a quick “how-to” reminder, or tutorial.