English 307

ENGL 307
Business Writing

Catalog Entry

English 307. Business Writing
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisite: CORE 101 and CORE 102, and junior or senior standing, or permission of instructor.

The course prepares students to cope with the strategy and writing of a wide range of informative and persuasive business letters and reports.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course focuses on the study of business communication, with emphasis on the principles of rhetoric, formatting, and style that determine whether any document successfully and efficiently communicates with its audience. Students analyze sample business documents written in many different communication situations, both internal and external to an organization, in order to understand the kinds of choices that writers make in order to relate to readers in particular ways and to accomplish particular goals (often complex goals). Students also plan, write, and revise various types of letters (sales, job application, rejection), memoranda (announcements of policies, instructions), and short reports (research, recommendation, oral presentation). Students learn to correct error patterns in their writing. Students learn to work together in small groups to produce group-written reports. The development of the job pursuit portfolio provides a unique opportunity for students to learn how thoughtful attention to audience and purpose can create persuasive documents.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Students examine the communication process through various models. They discuss rhetorical and semantic principles applied to business and communication. They plan and organize business communications based on specific cases presented to them by instructor or text. They become aware of effective writing style including adaptation to audience and problems of jargon and tone in various types of communications such as informative letters, good news letters, disappointing letters, job application letters, and reports. A variety of instructional strategies may include lecture, demonstration, and discussion with heavy student participation in discussion of sample documents; small group workshops in which students engage in problem-solving, analysis, writing, and planning for written documents or oral presentations; computer workshops demonstrating data analysis and manipulation, including computer-generated graphic aids for reports.

Writing requirements are frequent and varied, giving students the experience, feedback, and revision opportunities that will prepare them to write effective on-the-job documents on their own. They include memos, letters, resumes, and reports. As part of the writing problems, students cope with the means to overcome sensitive communication situations: for example, writing credit refusal letters without destroying their organization's relationship with a customer; applying the devices of sales letters to selling themselves in job application letters. They compile a Job Pursuit Portfolio consisting of a resume and an invited job application letter responding to a specific job advertisement.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

An essential goal of this course is to acquaint students with the complex communication situations that occur on the job, situations that can involve politics, legality, management style, and unstated organizational goals. Students learn to let their sensitivity to such issues guide the content and style of their business writing. The course strives to provide students with useful business writing strategies and to give students experience with the most common types of business writing. An important goal is to help students begin to make the transition from being student writers to being on-the-job writers (i.e., professionals who must write in their jobs). Toward that end, the deadlines, evaluation standards, oral presentations, and collaborative activities simulate a business or professional setting.

Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • select content and a level of detail appropriate for their intended audience
  • choose an appropriate format for the audience and purpose of a document
  • use an appropriate communication medium for their message (i.e., electronic, telephone, or paper transmission of information)
  • choose an appropriate organizational structure for particular audiences and purposes
  • use an appropriate tone and style to achieve their communication goals
  • edit their writing with an acceptable level of correctness
  • work effectively in a group to produce group-written documents
  • deliver an effective short oral presentation to an audience
  • create an effective job pursuit portfolio
  • use computer technology to effectively generate and edit both written text and simple graphic aids.


Assessment Measures

Understanding of general business communication principles, textbook material, and sample documents may be assessed in a number of different ways, such as

  • writing assignments in response to cases or real-life problems that students identify
  • examinations, both oral and written
  • oral presentations
  • reading quizzes
  • grammar, punctuation, usage tests.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

October, 2009