W231 0238-0240 STAFF
Professional Writing Skills

0243 2:35p-3:50p D (20) 3 cr.
0244 8:55a-10:10a D (20) 3 cr. Nordloh (description follows)
0245 11:45a-1:00p D (20) 3 cr.

FOR ALL SECTIONS THE PREREQUISITE IS W131 OR EQUIVALENT.

Designed to help students develop writing and research skills which will be useful in the professional world and in future writing projects. This course concentrates on the writing of concise, informative prose, and emphasizes the importance of writing with a clearly defined purpose and audience. Assignments will be based on general principles of communication, but will usually take the form of writing done in the world of work: letters, memos, summaries and abstracts, reports, proposals, etc.

Students will often be able to write on subjects related to their own field of study. The course requires constant, careful attention to writing and rewriting, and many classes will be conducted as workshops, with writing exercises and detailed discussion of the work of class members.

For Nordloh section 0244:

A PORTION OF THIS SECTION IS RESERVED FOR ENGLISH MAJORS.
TOPIC: FROM CRITICAL ESSAY TO BUSINESS PLAN–WRITING FOR THE WORLD OF WORK

This class will simulate the working environment of an office. Part of the time the instructor will play the role of employer/supervisor, and students will be employees, meeting the demands of a sequence of job assignments with a variety of writing products–résumés, memos, press releases, letters, summaries, feasibility studies, and reports. The assignments will demand attention to content and organization as well as to the physical design of the finished product. As in any real job, the work will be constant and focused, with at least twelve writing activities in the six weeks of the course (though they will also be brief, usually 1-2 pages), plus the background research and data collection associated with them. The instructor will also occasionally be an instructor, and the students will be students, discussing the general and specific demands of the different tasks and examining samples of already completed assignments to see what succeeds and what doesn’t. There are no quizzes or exams, and the only text is the universally valued handbook on writing, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (4th ed.).

The premise of the course is very simple: no matter what the situation, effective writing always has the same qualities. Whether it’s a short class assignment for a professor, a lab writeup, a memo to a supervisor, or a special report to the President of the United States, it has to be clear, concise, organized, purposeful, attentive to the topic, the occasion, and the audience. I will constantly highlight the connections between writing for the professional contexts of work and career and the kinds of academic assignments students have already faced. As a result, they should leave the course better equipped for writing of all kinds. They will also leave with the solid beginnings of a professional portfolio.