Syllabus, Professional Writing, Spring 2022

Last Updated: 12/10/21

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12:30-1:45
CPR: 352
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2:00-3:15 pm
CPR 480

Professor: Joseph M. Moxley (he/him/his)

Office Hours: by appointment. Please email through canvas to set up a meeting.

Welcome to Professional Writing, ENC 3250.

Shoot me an email if you have questions: mox @

Required Texts

Writing Commons, 4th Edition
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University Course Description: The course is an introduction to the techniques and types of professional writing, including correspondence and reports. It is designed to help strengthen skills of effective business and professional communication in both oral and written modes.

Course Prerequisites: ENC 1101 and ENC 1102 or ENC 1121 and ENC 1122.

General Education Statement: Effective Fall, 2021, ENC 3250 is an approved general education course under the high impact practice of collaboration. As a result, all students across sections of ENC 3250 are required to complete

  1. GEA1
  2. GEA2.

Course Purpose: Provide you with workplace communication competencies.

Course Topics: Students completing this course will develop the following skills and abilities:

  • Collaborative writing and collaboration skills
  • Rhetorical strategies for writing in the workplace
  • Genres and conventions of professional communication 
  • Document design and writing technologies
  • Ethics, accessibility, and inclusion in the workplace.

Student Learning Outcomes

General Education

  • Students will engage in meaningful critical reflection in required coursework.
  • Under professional oversight, students will utilize contextually-appropriate behaviors, tools, techniques and/or dispositions.
  • Students will integrate discipline-specific knowledge into the contextualized experience.
  • Students will synthesize discipline-appropriate learning via a culminating assignment.

Collaboration High Impact Practice

  • Students will utilize collaborative skills to plan and execute a rigorous project central to the course learning outcomes, employing flexibility, and internal conflict resolution as necessary
  • Students identify, acknowledge, and manage conflict.
  • Each student supports a constructive team climate by doing the following: Treats team members respectfully, motivates teammates, and provides assistance and/or encouragement to team members.

Course Specific

My goal for this course is to help you gain greater fluency as a researcher, thinker, and writer.

  • Students will analyze and write in a specific context defined by purpose and audience
  • Students will demonstrate effective document design
  • Students will develop your writing process, style, and editing techniques specific to workplace genres.

By completing course readings and assignments, students will obtain

  • Rhetorical Knowledge
    • Analyze and write in a specific rhetorical context defined by purpose and audience
    • Analyze professional cultures, social contexts, and audiences to determine how they shape the various purposes and forms of writing, such as persuasion, organizational communication, and public discourse.
  • Design Knowledge
    • Learn to argue with visual data, understanding and implementing various principles of format, layout, and design of documents that meet multiple user/reader needs.
  • Genre Knowledge
    • Learn and practice writing in various genres of professional discourse like the memo, infographic, letter, technical reports, proposals, and descriptions, etc.
  • Process Knowledge
    • Develop and understand strategies for planning, researching, drafting, and revising documents.
      • Collaboration
        • Learn and apply strategies for successful collaboration, such as working and communicating online with colleagues, setting and achieving project goals, and responding constructively to peers’ work.
  • Style Knowledge

Course Materials

Use Canvas, the course Learning Management System (LMS), to view course assignments, upload assignments, contribute to discussion posts, and communicate with the instructor. Your questions regarding Canvas should be directed to USF’s IT department at (813) 974-1222 or

The schedule provides access assigned readings: websites, articles, podcasts, videos, and tools.

Course Sandbox
This gDoc serves as a collaborative sandbox for course work, drafts. I especially use it to keep track of your collaborative work.

University email and Canvas account

Access to the internet via a laptop or desktop

Grading Scale*
 *Note: Students may not take this course S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory).

A+ (97–100) 4.00A (94–96.9) 4.00A– (90–93.9) 3.67
B+ (87–89.9) 3.33B (84–86.9) 3.00B– (80–83.9) 2.67
C+ (77–79.9) 2.33C (74–76.9) 2.00C– (70–73.9) 1.67
D+ (67–69.9) 1.33D (64–66.9) 1.00D– (60–63.9) 0.67

Grade Categories & Weights

Project 1 (Document Series)20% 
Project 2 (Information Design)20% 
Project 3 (Information Literacy)20%
Project 4 (Collaboration Report)
Recommendation Report, Self & Team Evaluation
Note: The categories & weights are subject to change. Each module includes a variety of memos, presentations, and related texts.

Standards for Grading Discussion Board Posts

A grade of 3 will be assigned when your posts demonstrate

  1. you have read and thought about assigned readings
  2. your post illustrates the conventions of a professional writing prose style

A grade of 2 will be assigned when your post demonstrates

  1. you have at least partially read and thought about the readings
  2. your prose is understandable, if stilted or troubled by stylistic infelicities

A grade of 0 will be assigned when you have not submitted a discussion post or your post is submitted late. The deadlines for Discussion Board Posts are final. Late discussion board posts will not be reviewed, excluding exceptional circumstances as discussed below.

You may find it useful to write your posts in Word or Google Docs. That way you can use spell check your posts. You may also want to use Grammarly’s free tools to grammar-check your work. At the very least, before submitting your work, you should carefully proofread it.

Grade Dissemination

Grades are available in Canvas

Project Assignments

Project 1: Problem Definition
20% of final grade, 3 Weeks

Students prepare documents for multiple audiences with varying levels of technical knowledge, institutional power, and investment. The goal of these documents is to identify a problem experienced by the USF community, to report progress on related research, and to share insights with peers regarding potential problem spaces worth exploring.

Project 2: Information Design
20% of final grade – 3 Weeks

Students locate and collect numerical data (in the form of studies, reports, spreadsheets, or articles) about a subject of interest to them or the USF community. Students design an infographic and write a memo to instructor defending design choices using design principles

Project 3: Information Literacy
20% of final grade – 2 Weeks

Students engage in textual research and qualitative research to investigate in a problem that is relevant to them, their community, or the USF community. Students produce a memo that reports their findings, giving readers a robust understanding of the problem they have researched.

Project 4: Collaborative Report
40% of final grade, 7 weeks

This unit asks students to write a recommendation report focused on one, local, real problem. Students will research a problem and write a report that describes the problem, identifies a possible solution, and satisfies the needs of their intended audience by fulfilling the genre expectations of their chosen document. Then, students will present their reports to the class. Students work collaboratively on the report. The project requires significant research and the creation of a formal report. The final part of this assignment is a self and team evaluation.

How to Succeed in this Course

  • attend class
  • check Canvas daily for announcements from me
    • (I’ll communicate with you in class and through Canvas Announcements)
  • adopt a growth mindset
    • maintain a strong work ethic and a professionalism rhetorical stance
  • carefully read and reread assignment guidelines, required readings.
  • take the collaborative project seriously
    • identify a discrete problem that people care about.
    • volunteer your service and those of your teams’ to work on a problem
  • invest yourself
    • In the tradition of U.S. higher education, academic credit is a measure of the time commitment required of a typical student in a specific course. According to this framework, the anticipated time commitment for this course is 3 hours of work per week for each credit hour (a minimum of 9 hours per week). In reality, however, this course could take more or less time, depending on your existing competencies as a researcher, collaborator, thinker, and writer.  Learning to write well takes practice and effort. Putting the time in is essential to your development as a writer. 
  • email me when you have questions.
  • see Writer’s Guide.

USF Official Policies

Extra Credit Policy: There is no extra credit planned for this course.

Grades of “Incomplete”: For undergraduate courses: An “I” grade may be awarded to a student only when a small portion of the student’s work is incomplete and only when the student is otherwise earning a passing grade. The time limit for removing the “I” is to be set by the instructor of the course. For undergraduate students, this time limit may not exceed two academic semesters, whether or not the student is in residence, and/or graduation, whichever comes first. For graduate students, this time limit may not exceed one academic semester. “I” grades not removed by the end of the time limit will be changed to “IF” or “IU,” whichever is appropriate.

Essay Commentary Policy: I use Canvas or gDocs for commentary on assignments. Let me know if you have questions about my feedback.

Late Work Policy: Generally, late work is not accepted. There are no make-ups for discussion board posts or other smaller assignments. Major Projects turned in late will be assessed a penalty: a full-letter grade for each day it is one day late. In the workplace meeting deadlines are vital. Missing a deadline can scuttle a project, cost money, and threaten the security of your position.

Documenting Exceptional Circumstances: The late work penalty will be waived in exceptional circumstances. You must contact your instructor as soon as such circumstances arise. You will be asked to verify your excuse. When exceptional circumstances arise before a deadline, write your writing partners and instructor:

  • what still needs to be completed
  • how you plan to go about completing the assignment
  • a realistic re-submission date

Group Work Policy:  Collaboration is a necessary skill to learn as a professional and/or technical communicator. A good place to learn this skill is in the safe environment of the classroom. Everyone must take part in a group project. We will complete some classroom exercises to help you learn how to successfully collaborate. More details on the group project and the assessment can be found in the project descriptions.

Instructor Expectations

Professionalism & Work Ethic
This culture of this class aims to reflect the culture of a business environment. Your professionalism is show through

  • your use of an appropriate professional tone and diction in online discussions and communications
  • your ability to listen before you speak, to engage in empathy when weighing arguments and truth claims, and to practice rhetorical reasoning. When writing or speaking with your colleagues, please adopt a tone appropriate to a professional setting.

Respect, Empathy, Patience, Citizenship
In order to accomplish course goals, writers in this class collaborate with one another. During these collaborative efforts, I ask that you engage with your colleagues in a respectful manner. Each member of the team is assigned specific roles and responsibilities for the project. Individual team members may receive a higher or lower score(s) based on the quality of their participation and contributions to the project. All members of the team submit individual project evaluations at the end of the project and those evaluations inform grading.

Diversity and Inclusion: I seek to maintain a welcoming, inclusive environment in the class where we respect difference in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs. Please let me know what name you want to be called and what pronouns you use (if you’re comfortable doing so). If you have questions or concerns about the class and environment, please speak with me or contact the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity at 813-974-4373. See also the English Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

Peer Review
Giving, getting, and making effective use of feedback from collaborators and reviewers is an important professional skill. When you collaborate on the group project or conduct reviews of others’ work, you are expected to provide thoughtful, professional, critical, useful feedback on your partner’s drafts during formal peer review sessions.

Course Policies: Technology and Media (as applicable)

Email: I check my email just about every day. I’ll respond to. your email asap, usually within a day.

Canvas: Use Canvas to track due dates and assignments.

This course will be offered via USF’s learning management system (LMS), Canvas. If you need help learning how to perform various tasks related to this course or other courses being offered in Canvas, please view the following videos or consult the Canvas help guides. You may also contact USF’s IT department at (813) 974-1222 or

Laptop Usage: I do hope you’ll bring your laptops and other writing tools to class. I won’t be lecturing in this class. Come with a professional mindset. Be prepared to work.

Classroom Devices/Student Recording: Students may, without prior notice, record video or audio of a class lecture for a class in which the student is enrolled for their own personal, educational use. A class lecture is defined as a formal or methodical oral presentation as part of a university course intended to present information or teach enrolled students about a particular subject. Recording class activities other than class lectures, including but not limited to lab sessions, student presentations (whether individually or part of a group), class discussion (except when incidental to and incorporated within a class lecture), clinical presentations such as patient history, academic exercises involving student participation, test or examination administrations, field trips, private conversations between students in the class or between a student and the faculty member is prohibited. Recordings may not be used as a substitute for class participation and class attendance and may not be published or shared without the written consent of the faculty member.

Failure to adhere to these requirements may constitute a violation of the USF Student Conduct Code (

Phone Usage: Please engage in professional behaviors. Put your phone away during lectures and presentations.

Course Policies: Student Expectations

Attendance Policy: I do not keep track of your attendance in class. However, I strongly recommend that you attend class.

Title IX Policy: Title IX provides federal protections for discrimination based on sex, which includes discrimination based on pregnancy, sexual harassment, and interpersonal violence. In an effort to provide support and equal access, USF has designated all faculty (TA, Adjunct, etc.) as Responsible Employees, who are required to report any disclosures of sexual harassment, sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking. The Title IX Office makes every effort, when safe to do so, to reach out and provide resources and accommodations, and to discuss possible options for resolution.  Anyone wishing to make a Title IX report or seeking accommodations may do so online, in person, via phone, or email to the Title IX Office. For information about Title IX or for a full list of resources please visit: If you are unsure what to do, please contact Victim Advocacy – a confidential resource that can review all your options – at 813-974-5756 or

Professionalism Policy: Per university policy and classroom etiquette; mobile phones, iPods, etc. must be silenced during all classroom and lab lectures. Those not heeding this rule will be asked to leave the classroom/lab immediately so as to not disrupt the learning environment. Please arrive on time for all class meetings. Students who habitually disturb the class by talking, arriving late, etc., and have been warned may suffer a reduction in their final class grade.

End of Semester Student Evaluations: All classes at USF make use of an online system for students to provide feedback to the University regarding the course. These surveys will be made available at the end of the semester, and the University will notify you by email when the response window opens. Your participation is highly encouraged and valued.

Food and Drink Policy: Please adhere to the firm policy of no beverages (other than bottled/capped water), food, tobacco products, or like items in the classroom. Your understanding of the necessity for this policy and cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

Learning Support and Campus Offices

Tampa Campus

Tutoring Hub

Example: The Tutoring Hub offers free tutoring in several subjects to USF undergraduates. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information, email

Writing Studio

Example: The Writing Studio is a free resource for USF undergraduate and graduate students. At the Writing Studio, a trained writing consultant will work individually with you, at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required. For more information or to make an appointment, email

Counseling Center

Example: The Counseling Center promotes the wellbeing of the campus community by providing culturally sensitive counseling, consultation, prevention, and training that enhances student academic and personal success. Contact information is available online.

Center for Victim Advocacy

Example: The Center for Victim Advocacy empowers survivors of crime, violence, or abuse by promoting the restoration of decision making, by advocating for their rights, and by offering support and resources. Contact information is available online.