English 332: Writing in the Professions

Fall, 2002

Dr. Bob Inkster

Eastman 306

Telephone: 255-3030

FAX: 654-5524

email : rinkster@stcloudstate.edu

Office Hours: Tuesday 3-5, Tue. & Thurs 11:15 - noon , and by appointment

Course Description (SCSU Bulletin): Study and practice in the standard types of writing required in government, business, and industry: proposals, abstracts, resumes, sales and advertising articles, business and administrative letters, and technical reports. Prereq: 191. 3 Cr.


1. Inkster and Kilborn, The Writing of Business and Faigley , The Longman Guide to the Web (both books bundled together at a reduced price)

2. A current St. Cloud State University student e-mail (electronic mail) account.

3. Four other resources you should be aware of:

a. The WRITE PLACE, in Riverview 118, where you can consult with tutors about your writing and where you can also get some useful handouts--e.g., on resumes.

b. Center for Career Planning and Placement, AS 101, where you can get

guidance on resumes and letters relating to employment and can also get

information on prospective employers.

c. Reference and Ready-Reference at the Miller Library, where you can find a wealth of additional information relating to writing in business and government (including writing to business and government). We'll have a session there getting acquainted with this information and the technology for retrieving it.

d. The SCSU Counseling Center, Stewart Hall 103, especially the "Discover" program for aiding career exploration. The Counseling Center can also talk to you about such things as Myers-Briggs personality types, learning and communication styles, and implications for career preferences.


The overall purpose of this course is to help you improve your strategies and skills that will make you a more effective communicator in your professional career. By the end of the semester, you should have achieved several individual goals:

1. You should be familiar with the conventions of typical written communications in business, government, and industry: in particular, letters, memos, and reports.

2. Using GRACE (Goals, Readers, Arguments, Conventions, Expression) and other strategies, you should be able to read and analyze a variety of writing situations and respond to these situations by giving yourself an effective writing assignment.

3. You should be able to respond to writing assignments (from yourself and from others) with effective discovery and revision strategies (including GRACE), with confident drafting, and with effective consultation (one-on-one and in groups).

4. You should be able to design communications that are appropriate in format and that your peers, your instructor, and others find to be clear, complete, correct, and convincing.

5. You should be competent and comfortable using the Web, email, and other computer-based communication technologies as a medium for communicating and sharing works in progress.

ASSIGNMENTS (See the schedule for due dates)

1. There will be a brief memo to me periodically. For more information on the memos, see my memo on memos, attached.

2. There will be several letters, including job application letters and resumes, following the basic principles applicable to business letters. The job application letters (or appropriate alternatives) and resumes will be part of an employment package that will be used to get in touch with actual prospective employers, and there will also be an end-of-semester report to the class about your use of the employment package.

3. There will be a brief project proposal to me written by your group. This proposal will lay the groundwork for you group collaboration, long report, and related activities noted in #4 below. You'll get separate handouts detailing both the proposal and the group project.

4. There will be a "long" report that will be a group collaboration and will also include a brief oral presentation to the class. This may be a paper document or a Web document.

5. There will be a brief final progress report and evaluation memo that will accompany your course portfolio.


Writing classes like this one are different from lecture classes, where some bright people can miss class frequently and still prosper by making up for their absences with careful reading of the text and of other people's notes. A writing class is a laboratory. A lot of the significant work for the course is done in class: planning, drafting, group work, discussing samples, and practicing a variety of strategies. Therefore, regular attendance is essential.

If you need to miss class, please let me know ahead of time if possible. You are responsible for obtaining any handouts or assignments for that class session.

Your course grade will drop one half a letter grade (i.e., 5%; see discussion under GRADING) for each absence beyond a week's worth of absences. What is an excused absence? There are two types. Type 1: You know ahead of time that, for good reason, you will have to miss class. You see me before the day of the absence and negotiate an excused absence, generally with some kind of appropriate written documentation. Type 2: Some emergency prevents you from getting to class. In this case, it's vital that you present some formal documentation that you had good reason to be gone - e.g., verification from an SCSU official that you were off campus on university business, or a written memo from a doctor, a cop, or other responsible party indicating that you were unable to make it to class for good reason. In this class, the requirement for written dcumentation is really just practicing what we preach: In our complex organizations of the 21st Century, written documentation is essential in almost any meaningful transaction.


1. Do all written assignments (except for in-class work) on a word processor. In fact, you should try to compose drafts on the word processor as much as possible.

2. Keep a copy of each assignment for yourself, either as hard copy or on a disk.

3. Submit each graded assignment (but not the memos to Bob) in a folder labeled clearly with your name. In addition to your last draft, include your earlier drafts, responses from me and your colleagues, etc.

4. Save everything! Save all graded assignments, planning materials, drafts, peer reviews... everything... in the order in which you did them. Keep these in a folder that you will use at the end of the term to document and evaluate your work in the course.


1. I'll use a numerical scale, with the point totals at the end of the term translated into percentages which will in turn translate into letter grades as follows: A=90% or above; B=80% to 89%; C=70% to 79%; D=60% to 69%; F=59% or below.

2. Drafts and memos to the file will receive a grade for timeliness of submission. In order for peer review and consultations to work, you as a writer must have real words on real paper to work with. On-time drafts will earn up to ten points; late drafts will earn up to five points.

3. Late graded assignments (see below to identify which these are) receive a five-point deduction for each class period they're late. Any exceptions would require either prior arrangement or written documentation, as is the case with excused absences (see absences, above).

4. Plagiarism--who needs it? You certainly don't. The penalty for plagiarism? F in the course. If you have questions about acknowledgment, documentation, etc., let's talk beforehand.


Memos to File (responses to readings ) 10 pts. each , twelve memos

Resume 50 pts. ( plus draft, up to 10 pts.)

Exercise 3, Chapt. 7, draft employment letters, & memo 50 pts.

Follow-up letters to Career Services and to Library 50 pts. ( plus drafts, up to 10 pts.)

Informational interview, memo, and report to class 50 pts.

Employment package 100 pts.

Group proposal 25 pts.

Group project 100 pts. ( plus draft, up to 10 pts.)

Final progress-report memo and portfolio of all previous memos 50 pts.

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