Danuta Hinc

English 394: Business Writing 
Summer 2015
Section: #0202

office: Tawes Hall #1234
office hours: by appointment
phone/text: 443-388-3271
Building/Room Number:
Section #0202 (9:30am-12;45pm)
Tuesday and Thursdays: TWS 0232
Class Description
The intent of this course is to prepare you for the type of professional communication you are likely to engage in during your first post-college jobs and beyond.  This course focuses on advanced composition – learning how to present specialized information in an accessible way to a variety of different audiences, but audiences who, no doubt, will expect clarity, accuracy, and professionalism from you. This course stresses the key skills that highlight a successful professional communicator.  Specifically, we focus on the process of writing (including the planning, drafting, and revising stages) and look carefully at the work that goes into the final polished product.  As collaboration is often a key part of the professional realm, you’ll spend much of the semester working with your classmates – which will include participating in brainstorming sessions, providing constructive criticism, and preparing for your final projects together. On completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Analyze a variety of professional rhetorical situations and produce texts in response.
  2. Understand the stages required to produce competent, professional writing through planning, drafting, revising, and editing.
  3. Identify and implement the appropriate research methods for each writing task.
  4. Practice the ethical use of sources and the conventions of citation appropriate to each genre.
  5. Write for the intended readers of a text, and design or adapt texts to audiences who may differ in their familiarity with the subject matter.
  6. Demonstrate competence in Standard Written English, including grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, coherence, and document design (including the use of the visual) and be able to use this knowledge to revise texts.
  7. Produce cogent arguments that identify arguable issues, reflect the degree of available evidence, and take account of counter arguments.

Course Materials


  • Style, Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Tenth Edition), Joseph M. Williams, Gregory G. Colomb. Longman: 2010. ISBN-10: 0-205-74746-9 or ISBN-13: 978-0-205-74746-7 (suggested)

Other Materials:

  • Sturdy pocket folder you don’t mind giving up, thick enough to securely hold several papers.  This folder you’ll give me at the end of the semester, with all pre-writing assignments, outlines, drafts, and graded papers inside.
  • A USB drive: a portable storage device for you to save your in-class writing assignments onto; please bring this to every class [applicable if class is held in computer classroom]
  • Small stapler

Grades, and How they are Determined

Your semester grade will be based on a variety of assignments, some individual and some collaborative, accounting for roughly 25 pages of final, polished writing.  The specific breakdown is as follows:

Assignment #1
Assignment #2
Assignment #3
Assignment #4
Assignment #5
Project presentation
 In-class writing and professional conduct, reflection essays and homework, participation

Master Grading Rubric

A – denotes work that exceeds the standards for the assignment.

These papers surpass all stated requirements in a mature, clear, and well-organized way.  They attend specifically and completely to their appropriate audiences, are crafted using mature organizational strategies, and represent an original approach to the assignment in terms of both content and style.  The papers must contain evidence of significant time spent on invention, drafting, correcting, rejecting, peer review, and revision. Effective use of graphics and other forms of visual rhetoric are demonstrated. Finally, A papers have very few to no grammar, proofreading, or spelling mistakes.

B – denotes work that meets the requirements of the assignment.

Generally the writing achieves all the stated goals of an assignment, and uses apparent organizational strategies to present the content in a clear way.  Audiences are attended to, though more effort could be made to address their specific needs.  The content of a B paper is usually well-researched, though often falls on the side of obvious, and may reveal other issues that were not considered.  B papers demonstrate that time was spent on the process of writing, though often more effort was needed in either the drafting, revision, or invention stages. Minimal attention and energy devoted to use of visual aides. B papers occasionally have a miniscule number of (if any) grammar, diction, or spelling issues.

C – denotes work that barely meets/just misses the requirements of the assignment.

These papers usually demonstrate that a student has not quite grasped a fundamental part of the assignment, or the student has not followed all of the assignment’s instructions.  Audience may either be poorly defined or the paper may not adequately address their needs; content may be too broad or too general; organization may be problematic on a paragraph-level or globally.  Some requirements stated on the assignment sheet, in class, or from our text are not applied correctly, or are missing entirely.  Often the paper’s problems are exposed by a lack of time spent on the assignment, evidenced through drafts and other supporting materials. Poor quality or unprofessional (i.e., hand-drawn) use of graphics and other visual aids. Grammar mistakes may take away from the paper’s overall effectiveness.

D/F – denotes work that has fallen short of the requirements of the assignment.

Papers that fail to meet an assignment’s goals are often characterized by missing supporting materials, poor levels of organization, and skipped over requirements.  Papers in this category often contain content that is inadequately researched or considered, and often times do not attend to their audiences’ needs or goals.  Writing is often unclear, and the objectives of the assignment are not met.  Numerous spelling, grammatical, and proof-reading errors may lead to a paper earning a grade in this category as well. Complete absence of graphics and visual aids.  **Please note that papers that don’t meet minimum page requirements will receive a grade of either a D or an F.

Portfolios and Written Assignments

All major assignments must be submitted electronically to as a Word document.  All must be typed in 12 point standard-sized font, Times New Roman.  All double-spaced assignments should contain your name and page numbers where appropriate.  Most one page documents, such as memos, letters, and resumes, should be single-spaced and should not be numbered.

You’ll print and keep all graded assignments in one folder.  This portfolio will represent the cumulative aspect of your semester’s work.

Assignments must be submitted at the beginning of class. I’ll subtract a letter grade from the paper for each class day it is late (i.e., a B+ paper due Monday but handed in Wednesday would receive a C+).  Please, do not leave papers with office staff.  If you can’t turn your assignment on time, it is absolutely necessary for you to communicate that with me ahead of time, so we can work out a solution.  If you do not turn in every major assignment, you will not earn a passing grade for this course.

Business Writing: The Literal Side

As upper-level college students, you’ve probably already experienced several different types of communication.  In the electronic realm, for instance, you have realized that the emails you send to your friends from home contain a different level of formality than the ones you’ll send to potential employers and future co-workers.  In this class, we’ll practice becoming adept at communicating with each other in a professional manner.  In other words, emails sent to your classmates and me will use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, as well as proper salutations.

I’ll do my best to answer emails that follow these guidelines in a timely fashion, most likely the same day, but it may take a day or two.

All major assignments (see: above) should be submitted electronically (see: above).

Important: In the subject line of your email include in this order:

#0202-assignment#1-your name

Attendance Policies

Attendance in this course is mandatory.  Much of what we do this semester will be collaborative, and it’s difficult to engage in successful discourse with your classmates if they are not there.

Below are the policies on unexcused and excused absences, as well as tardiness. Please note that missing more than two weeks’ worth of class for any reason may result in a zero for the participation/professionalism portion of your grade and may jeopardize your overall course grade. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out what you’ve missed. Missing more than two weeks of class will make catching up difficult, if not impossible.

Unexcused Absences. You may take up to one week’s worth of no-questions-asked absences per semester for both the expected (i.e., being the best man in your brother’s wedding) and the unexpected (i.e., a flat tire).

If you take a no-questions-asked absence, however, you are still responsible for whatever material was covered in classIf a major scheduled grading event (assignment due, in-class workshop/peer review, presentation) is scheduled for that class period, and you don’t show up and don’t have a university-sanctioned excuse (see below) then you will lose the points for that activity.

Excused Absences. The University excuses absences for your own illness or the illness of an immediate family member, for your participation in university activities at the request of University authorities, for religious observance, and for compelling circumstance beyond your control. Documentation is required for all excused absences. If you have an anticipated excused absence, you must let me know in writing by the end of the schedule adjustment period or at least two weeks in advance.

Absence for one class due to your own illness: The university requires that you provide me a self-signed note attesting to the date of your illness, with an acknowledgment that the information provided is true. Providing false information to University officials is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action. The Health Center has an online form  (

Absence from more than one class because of the same illness: You must provide written documentation of the illness from the health care provider who made the diagnosis. No diagnostic information shall be given. The provider must verify dates of treatment and indicate the time frame during which you were unable to meet academic responsibilities.

Non-consecutive medically necessitated absences from more than a single classSuch absences may be excused provided you submit written documentation for each absence as described above, verifying the dates of treatment and time frame during which you were unable to meet your academic responsibilities. However, as also noted above, if you miss too many classes—even if excused—though you are technically eligible to make up the work, in practice students are rarely able to do so.

Tardiness. In the professional world tardiness is not tolerated. However, this campus is large, and another instructor may keep you late. So if you do arrive late on occasion, do not disrupt class, and let me know by the end of the schedule adjustment period if you anticipate ongoing conflicts. Remember that it is your responsibility to catch up on your own time, not the class’s. Thus, 2 late arrivals (or unexplained early departures) will convert to 1 absence.

Electronic Device Policy

Cell phones and similar devices are not allowed, either on ring or vibrate, for any reason.  Please turn your cell phone off before class begins.

Emergency situationIf you are in an emergency situation (illness in the family, babysitters who may need to contact you, etc.), you should explain the situation to me before class begins, put your phone on vibrate, and when the call comes through, excuse yourself and leave the classroom quietly to take the call. Such emergencies should be rare exceptions.


OPTION 1: Using any of these devices during class will result in a loss of participation credit for that day’s class. Repeated violation of this policy will negatively affect your progress – and therefore your grade – in this course.

OPTION 2: Using any of these devices during class will result in being marked as tardy for that class. Repeated violation of this policy will negatively affect your progress – and therefore your grade – in this course.

Computer Classroom Policies (if applicable)

Along with the many benefits of learning in a fully equipped computer lab come some responsibilities.  Food and drink are expressly forbidden; likewise, if you think terminals give you a chance to sneak in IMs or update your Facebook profile, you’ll want to reassess that thought.  Our class time is solely for work related to this class; any student who checks email or surfs the web will be asked to leave the classroom and be marked absent.

As with many professional environments, we’ll be fortunate enough to have our terminals when we need them, but we’ll also use our class time for discourse, group projects, and other activities that won’t necessarily be computer-based.  Throughout the semester, we’ll complete in-class writing assignments, but most of the writing for the papers and projects due in this course will take place outside the classroom. Please do not ever plan to use the printers in this room to print out-of-class or homework assignments.  You’ll be required to obtain a Terrapin Express print account for the rare times when in-class printing is necessary.

And speaking of computers, mistakes happen. Be particularly careful to back up all work both in and out of the classroom; tales of printer problems, crashed hard-drives, and laptops that won’t turn on will earn my empathy, yet they will not extend any deadlines. You’ll want to always carry a USB drive to back up work done on any computer.

Academic Integrity and Honor Pledge

The University has a student administered Code of Academic Integrity and Honor Pledge, which prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without permission of both instructors, buying papers, handing in fraudulent documents, and forging signatures.  For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit On each paper you’ll hand in this semester, please print and sign the following: “I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment.” 

Special Needs

If you have a registered disability that will require accommodation, please see me after class, come to my office, or email me about it as soon as possible.  If you have a disability and have not yet registered it with Disability Support Services in the Shoemaker Building (301-314-7682), you should do so immediately.

General Note

To succeed at professional writing requires a mastery of the process of writing: learning and developing skills that will assist you in communicating highly specialized content to a variety of audiences.  I expect that for most of you, this class will take a significant amount of time and energy, and you may have inferred from these pages that I have rather high expectations in regards to your dedication to this course.  However, it is likely that an effort on your part to meet – and exceed – the requirements set forth for you this semester will successfully prepare you for professional communication in the world beyond our classroom.


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