Respond to the four cases below and analyze the writing contexts for each case. This portfolio is worth about 10% of your grade, and is due on or before 11:30am on the date specified on the syllabus. Here's a quick over view of what I'm asking you to do for this portfolio:


The first case is completely detailed here. You will find details for the other two cases on the pages listed in Chapters 8 and 9 of Thill and Bovee's Excellence in Business Communication (3rd ed.). Since I am giving you only the highlights of cases 2 and 3, please make sure you look at the full situation described in the textbook.

Also, you will find guiding questions for analyzing the writing context of each case on a separate web page. You do not have to answer every question that I list, but I would like you to tell me something about how you view the audience and purpose of each of the cases to which you respond, what effect you intend your memo or letter to have, and how you are positioned as the writer in each of the cases. In other words, context notes help me see what assumptions you are making about the writing situation and how those assumptions influence some of your choices in terms of tone, format, level of detail, approach, etc.

  1. Writing Replies: Letter to Ben Pankau describing computer resources at WVU

    WV Senate Bill 547 identifies new directions for instructional technology in higher education. This legislation is a strategic step in planning for WVU's future. Several technological advances and computer resources are already in place. WVU hopes these new and developing resources will attract new students. Ben Pankau, a recruitment officer for WVU recently received a letter from an interested student who wants to know what is currently available. The student wrote:

    • Where are the most convenient computer labs on campus?
    • When are they open? (Are they more crowded at some times than others?)
    • How many computers will I find in each lab? (MAC or IBM?)
    • Who can use them?
    • Are there any fees?
    • Can I print documents?
    • Can I access e-mail and the WWW at the computer labs?
    • Do the computer labs have staff who can help with word processing, e-mail, and using the WWW?

    Since Mr. Pankau expects that other potential students will want to know about WVU's computer resources, he wants to make sure he can answer these questions.

    Mr. Pankau knows that he can get some information from Academic Computing on the ground floor of the Evansdale Library, and other help from Computing Services in Stewart Hall. He already has the following list of computer sites on campus: Allen Hall, Armstrong Hall, B & E, Eisland, Evansdale Library, Health Sciences Center, the Mountainlair, Stansbury. He recalls that several of the residence halls also have computer labs. Since Mr. Pankau does not use these labs himself, he would like to verify and add to his information by checking with students who do use these sites. He has asked this section of ENGL 105 for help.

    Your task: Write a letter to Mr. Pankau that describes the computer lab that you are most likely to use outside of class for things like word processing, accessing your e-mail, and searching the WWW. You may want to use the questions Mr. Pankau received from the prospective student as a way to organize your response. If you need a list of some of the computer services on campus, check the attachments to your syllabus and/or the Computer Help link on the ENGL 105 Home Page.

    Be sure to write an analysis of the writing context for this case. Run through the checklist on p. 178, too.

  2. Request Information: Memo inquiring about computerized presentations at Rucker Fuller (p. 166)

    Your task: You need some advice. Write a memo asking your company's computer expert, Alison Blakesley, to research and recommend several time-line-based multimedia software packages. You want to know how much these programs cost, which version has the best features, and whether they are easy to use. Be sure to write an analysis of the writing context for this case. Run through the checklist on p. 158, too.

  3. Responding Favorably to a Claim: Letter from Listen 2 Books promising free repair (p. 198)

    Your task: Compose a letter that reflects a posititve attitude and evokes your customer's good will. Give him an option for resolving his problem. Be sure to write an analysis of the writing context for this case. Review the points on p. 178, too.


Each case requires a one-page response and a one-page context analysis.

Print a hard copy of your responses to the three cases and of your context analysis for each case. Turn in everything (roughly 6 pages) by 11:30 a.m. on the date specified on the syllabus

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