PROFESSIONAL WRITING AT WVU

English 105 – Business/Professional Writing
English 208 – Scientific and Technical Writing


Common Features of 105 & 208
Typical Assignments 
Differing Features
Workload
Typical Textbooks
Methods of Course Delivery
Common Grading Criteria
Contact Us for More Information



Common Features of Both Courses

Both courses carry “W” credit and are designed for traditional undergraduates, returning students, life-long learners, and all those looking to upgrade their portfolio in professional writing.

Both emphasize the way in which electronic technologies are changing the face of professional communications.

Both require English 1 and 2 as prerequisites.

Both courses are offered for “W” (writing intensive) credit

Both courses are open to students in all majors.

Both courses use common grading standards for all sections.

Both courses emphasize writing in an electronic environment.

Sections are taught by full-time and adjunct faculty and by experienced, supervised Graduate Teaching Assistants.

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Differing Features of Both Courses

Though sharing common features, English 105 and 208 are separate, non-overlapping courses.

English 105 is designed to give students training in writing types of documents common to a general business environment. Writing context and audience needs are stressed. Most students are sophomores and juniors in non-engineering and non-medical fields.

English 208 is a more advanced course that offers students training in writing in their professional concentration. Attention is given to graphical elements and layout. Seniors (and occasionally juniors), returning students, and life-long learners take this course.

 
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Typical English 105 Textbooks

Bovee, Courtland L. and John V. Thill. 1999. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. Prentice Hall.

Flower, Linda, and John Ackerman. 1997. Writers at Work: Strategies for Communications in Business and Professional Settings. HBJ.

Inkster, Robert P., and Judith M. Kilborn. 1998. The Writing of Business. Allyn and Bacon.

O’Hair, H. Dan, et al. 2001. Business Communication: A Framework for Success. South-Western College Publishing.

Pearsall, Thomas E., et al. 2000. How to Write for the World of Work. 6th ed. HBJ.
 

Typical English 208 Textbooks


Harnack, Andrew, and Eugene Kleppinger. 1998. Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources. St. Martin’s Press.

Houp, Kenneth W., et al. 1998. Reporting Technical Information. Allyn and Bacon.

Lay, Mary M., et al. 1999. Technical Communication. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill.

Miles, Thomas H. 1990. Critical Thinking and Writing for Science and Technology. HBJ.

Reep, Diana. 1999. Technical Writing: Principles, Strategies, and Readings. 4th ed. Allyn and Bacon.

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Common Grading Criteria

A.  The document is exemplary; a company could use it without further revisions; the writing style is clear and free of errors; graphics and white space highlight the content. The document has unique, creative features that separate it from “more average” pieces of writing.

B. The document meets all the criteria of the assignment and could be used by a company without major revisions of content, presentation, or writing style and mechanics. It has no more than two types of errors in punctuation, grammar, format, and spelling.

C.  The document is adequate, but requires substantial revision before it could be used by a company.  It has no more than five types of errors.

D. The document is “unprofessional” and would require major revisions just to be presentable for further review.

F.   The document has pervasive errors and fails to meet the conceptual requirements of the assignment; in a professional setting, someone else would be assigned to complete the project.

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Typical Assignments in English 105

Students will complete a series of portfolio-based assignments, usually 3-5 from the following list, the number to be determined by the relative length and intellectual complexity of each portfolio or project.  The portfolio projects result in each student writing a total of at least 5,000 words during the semester (about 20+ pages).
 
  • Editing Portfolio: an extended case study or series of short documents that improves the student’s understanding of rhetorical and textual strategies as well as enables the student to practice strategies for improving a text’s content, organization, style, and mechanics.
  • Employment Portfolio: a series of 3-5 documents related to the job-search process, with an emphasis on getting that first job in a general business situation. May include creating an e-Résumé and uploading it onto a personal homepage.
  • Direct-Plan Portfolio: a series of 3-5 short memos, e-mails, or letters communicating positive or neutral news (for instance: inquiries, explanations, instructions, goodwill letters, the explanation of a problem, etc.; a variation may include an internal policy-and-procedures manual)
  • Indirect-Plan Portfolio: a series of 3-5 short memos, e-mails, or letters communicating negative news (for instance: refusals, bad-news letters, and negative performance-evaluations, etc.)
  • Corporate Mission Portfolio: an extended case study resulting in an outreach corporate factsheet and/or a publicly-oriented mission statement
  • Research Portfolio: an extended case study resulting in an annotated survey of researched material designed to be used for a particular purpose
  • A Client-Oriented Project Portfolio: an extended project that requires research and an oral or Web-based presentation; may be cast as a collaborative project
  • Typical Assignments in English 208

    Students will complete a series of portfolio-based assignments, usually 3-5 from the following list, the number to be determined by the relative length and intellectual complexity of each portfolio or project. The portfolio projects result in each student writing a total of at least 5,000 words during the semester (about 20+ pages). For most portfolios, students choose subject matter to research from their own professional concentration.
     
  • Electronic Communications Portfolio: a series of targeted assignments, including: Web searching and the evaluation and annotation of selected Web sites; the standards for e-mail correspondence and e-mail formatting in a professional setting; and the process of creating a professional homepage. This portfolio may include an assignment focused on professional self presentation (such as creating an electronic résumé for a specific professional position).
  • Recommendation for a Technical Upgrade Portfolio: a series of assignments, including an extensive Web search, designed to produce a report that recommends a technical upgrade. Students choose a topic based on their current professional interests.  The report can be directly internally, to an inhouse corporate development team, or externally, to the general public.
  • Long-term Feasibility Portfolio: a series of assignments designed to produce a report that puts some recent technical upgrade in a meaningful historical context directly related to the development of an important technology.
  • Current Status Assessment Portfolio: a series of assignments that allows the student to research and report on the “state-of-the-art” status of a contemporary, significant technology.
  • Process Explanation Portfolio:  might include a technical description or definition, a concept analysis, a translation for a non-technical audience, or a set of instructions for a non-expert user that includes a graphic aid.

  • Workload in  Both Courses

    Each of the portfolio projects emphasizes a process approach. Students will typically take projects through drafts and revisions with frequent comments on work in progress from peers and professor.

    The portfolio projects result in each student writing at least 5,000 words during the semester (about 20+ pages).

    In English 105 and 208, 3 to 5 major writing assignments constitute the semester’s work.
     

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    English 105 Methods of Course Delivery

    Traditional classroom setting, with small-group conferencing and collaborative teamwork.  Web pages and e-mail support classroom work.  For an example of a current syllabus, please see: English 105 Homepage

    A 100% online, Web-based section will be offered beginning in Fall 2001.

    English 208 Methods of Course Delivery

    All sections are now taught online.  Students use eMail conferencing with their professor and a WebCT Bulletin Board (for LAN simulation).  For an example of a current syllabus, please see: Professional Writing at WVU Homepage.

    Enrollment includes regular WVU undergraduates, as well as students from “Bridging the Gap” and the “Southern Regional Electronic Campus.”

    Traditional-classroom sections may be offered beginning in Fall 2001.

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    How to Contact Us for More Information


    Dr. Thomas Miles
    Interim Coordinator, Professional Writing
    Department of English
    eMail Dr. Miles
    293-3107 x448

    Dr. Laura Brady
    Director, Center for Writing Excellence
    Department of English
    eMail Dr. Brady
    293-3107 x438

    West Virginia University, PO BOX 6296, Morgantown, WV 26506-6296

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