MM 540 Essentials of Business Writing – Winter Term 2010 (4187)
Instructor: Hart Wilson, MM Central 114
Phone: 552-8283 Office Hours: By Appointment
Communication skills are critically important in today’s world. We receive and send many email
messages daily and our writing skills are showcased in every message. With increasingly
sophisticated technologies for communication, it is more and more important to know how to
convey a professional image in everything we do.
This course will provide opportunities to practice and perfect written language skills including
grammar, punctuation, and word usage. You will use these skills to compose and produce a
variety of business documents: email, letters, memos, reports, etc. You will learn the most
effective way to write each type of document, focusing on style, format, and content. You will
also enhance your ability to proofread business documents to ensure that they are clear, succinct,
complete, accurate, consistent, and courteous. You will become a better communicator by
enhancing your ability to analyze an audience to determine the language, tone, style, and
format that will be most appropriate to express your message.
Leadership Communication by Deborah J. Barrett, 2007 (available in the SOU bookstore).
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Straus, 2007 (available online).
Complete details for these books are available in the course Blackboard (Bb) site.
The objectives for this course are simple and straightforward: participants will improve their
writing and editing skills. Specifically, you will:
Enhance your ability to communicate effectively and professionally in writing.
Apply effective writing and formatting techniques to e-mail messages, memos, routine
letters, persuasive messages, negative messages, informal reports, proposals, and formal
Compose messages that are readable, use appropriate language, apply parallelism, and use
graphic highlighting to convey ideas clearly to readers.
The course will focus on writing rather than just reading and hearing about how to be a better
writer. Thus, there will be writing and/or editing assignments due each week. Part of the time,
we will meet in a computer lab to allow opportunities to practice skills presented in class.
Classroom sessions will be supplemented extensively by activities conducted on a course
Blackboard site. Consistent, high-quality participation in class and online will be required
throughout the term.
There will be three face to face meetings for this course at the HEC on January 19, February 2,
and February 23 from 6-9. Class attendance will be an important factor in your success in this
course. Make-up work will only be accepted in the case where prior notice (if possible) is given
of a legitimate absence. If a work commitment prevents your attendance, contact the instructor
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in advance and make arrangements to meet with a learning partner to find out what you missed
in class. Given the collaborative nature of today’s workplace, the course will make use of peer
review and peer editing. Your attendance will be critical to the success of your peer partnership,
as well as to your individual success. Full credit will usually not be given for late work.
The Discussion Board offers a valuable chance to read and critique writing. Each week, you are
expected to post a substantive response to a topic related to leadership communication and
writing. You are expected to read the Guidelines for Discussion Board posted on the course Bb
site and maintain a professional tone in the weekly forums. Feedback will be provided on your
postings. (Ongoing forums such as Q&A are not expected to maintain as high a tone – we can
have some fun!)
You will take a series of quizzes in Bb from The Blue Book on grammar, punctuation, and
challenging words throughout the term. You might wish to take the grammar quizzes initially
without reviewing the text to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. In addition to these
grammar quizzes, review quizzes on specific grammar points will be posted in some weekly
assignments folders. You may take grammar quizzes up to three times each and review quizzes
just once. The learning opportunity afforded by each quiz far outweighs its relative value towards
a final grade, so treat each quiz as the chance to assess your skills and identify areas of strength
You will produce a variety of writing assignments throughout the term. These will be graded
according to criteria provided at the time they are assigned with points deducted for late work.
Any assignment submitted more than one week late will have its maximum value reduced by
one half, i.e., a 10 point assignment can earn a maximum of only 5 points if turned in more
than a week late. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments submitted digitally must be turned in
by 6 pm on the day they are due (usually Tuesdays).
In lieu of a final exam, you will draft a Leadership Communication Development Plan based on
a format provided in our text. The plan will consist of three parts. We will work on them
incrementally throughout the term in order to keep this project manageable. The plan
will consist of:
Part 1: Self-Assessment
Part 2: Goal Setting
Part 3: Action Plan
Although complete details will be provided in Bb and reviewed in class, please note:
1. You may not submit a leadership plan created for another course as your project for this
course. While work you have completed previously may inform your approach to this
assignment, the actual requirements differ from those of any other course and
necessitate a fresh attempt.
2. The worksheet that you complete for each part of your plan will serve as a guideline for
your final paper, but the plan you submit will consist of a narrative report without the
guiding questions posed in the worksheets.
3. You will not turn in the leadership communication checklist itself as part of your project;
MM 540 Essentials of Business Writing • Winter 2010 Page 2
it is for your reference only.
4. While a certain level of soul-searching will be inherent in the creation of your plan, I do
not expect you to disclose matters which are deeply personal to you. I do expect that
you will demonstrate some degree of self-awareness and self-reflection in your plan, but
you should not feel obligated to reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings. All plans
will remain confidential as a matter of academic policy.
Activity Grade Grade Scale
Class/Bb Discussion 20 93-100% A
Grammar & Review Quizzes 15 87-89 B+
Writing Assignments 30 80-82 B-
LCD Plan 35 73-76 C
Total 100 67-69 D+
59 & below F
With the exception of peer partnership activities, all assignments and quizzes are to be
completed individually. Peer or colleague review and feedback are acceptable (and often
desirable), but the work needs to remain your own. Everything from this class is yours to keep,
but not to share with other students (current or future).
If you are in need of academic support because of a documented disability (whether it is
psychiatric, learning, mobility, health related, or sensory), you may be eligible for academic
accommodations through disability services for students. Contact Disability Services for Students
at 552-6213, or schedule an appointment in person at the ACCESS Center, Stevenson Union.
The instructor reserves the right to adjust the course syllabus and schedule based on student
progress. Any adjustments will be made in consultation with students and will be confirmed in
writing to ensure shared understanding.
MM 540 Essentials of Business Writing • Winter 2010 Page 3
Essentials of Business Writing
1 Introduction to Leadership Communication
Bb Grammar Self-Assessment
2 Assessing Your Skills
Bb Introduction to Leadership Communication Development Plan
3 Developing Leadership Communication Strategy (Chapter 1)
Class Establishing Purpose
Meets Determining Strategy
1/19 Organizing Communication
4 Preparing to Write
Bb Audience Analysis
5 Writing Strategies (Chapter 2)
Class Writing in Teams
Meets Indirect vs. Direct Approaches
2/2 Effective Lists
6 Setting Goals
7 Creating Leadership Documents
8 Using Language to Achieve a Leadership Purpose (Chapter 3)
Meets Word Choice
9 Writing for a Positive Ethos
Bb Tricky Grammar Bits
10 Leadership Communication in Action
Bb Finalization of Leadership Communication Development Plan
Finals Term Projects Due
Week March 10 at 5 pm in CE 114 or at Medford Campus
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