WRT307 | Maymester Blended 2009 (Section U550): Syllabus

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Maymester Blended 2009
On campus May 18-22 | Online May 23-August 14
Section U550

Course Description and Rationale

Welcome to WRT307: Advanced Writing Studio: Professional Writing. This 13-week course consists of a series of inquiries into identifiable genres of workplace writing and related aspects of professional and technical communication. You will gain direct, first-hand experience with a range of genres, which you will learn by drafting and revising. This course is designed for you to develop practical knowledge with professional writing, while simultaneously examining and exploring the rhetorical contexts in which workplace writing is produced and circulated.

At the outset , we will square off with the terms in the course title, and attempt to define more precisely what "professional writing" encompasses, by linking these practices with matters of style, design, context, and ethics. In WRT307, we will draw on rhetorical terms and concepts to deepen and complicate the ways we think about the genres of writing under consideration. The assignments build in complexity and difficulty so that by the end of the term you will have written several drafts of several different kinds of documents.

This section of WRT307 follows a blended Maymester model, which means we will meet on campus from 7-9 p.m., Monday-Friday, May 18-22, before shifting to online interaction for the remaining twelve weeks.

Because of the simulatory approach this course assumes, it follows that I, as the instructor, will shift in and out of multiple roles--as mentor and guide, as presenter and teacher, as colleague and co-inquirer, and also, at times, as boss and critic. Likewise, you will occupy a variety of roles as well, often taking on a leadership position by presenting or leading a class discussion, by directing our attention to questions or matters of concern or by submitting an agenda item to our class plan. These shifting roles will require each of us to prepare for class sessions and undertake class activities with rigor and consideration for the others who are affected by our preparation. This is especially applicable in collaborative situations. These multiple roles require of us a demonstrable level of flexibility and commitment to professionalism.

Course Goals for WRT 307

Writing 307 will function as an advanced, pre-professional studio:

  • Students will learn to write for their workplaces by investigating those sites, researching writing in their fields, and taking responsibility for their own learning.
  • Students will present their learning to their peers via oral, textual, and electronic means.
  • Students will learn techniques of document design and copyediting.

Writing 307 will simulate a workplace environment:

  • Students will produce a range of professional genres and will learn to apply their knowledge to new situations.
  • Students will learn to collaborate ethically and responsibly and to manage tasks concurrently.
  • Students will produce post-university, professional writing; the major products of this course—at least one of which will be a sustained, multiple-product group project—will be exclusively of this type.

Writing 307 will address and make use of relevant technologies:

  • Students will incorporate appropriate technologies in class processes and products and address the effects of current technologies on professional communications.
  • Students will engage in the multimedia publication of information.
  • Students will write and read non-traditional, non-paper, hypermedia as they occur in the workplace.

Work of the Course

You will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing activities and practices. During the course you may annotate readings, keep a record of ideas and responses, register observations, take notes on discussions online, experiment with different styles and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities, much of which will unfold in Blackboard. All of these activities are important and will have an impact on your development and success as writers in workplace contexts.

Writing thoughtfully also depends upon reading carefully. Readings you begin to identify and assemble during the first weeks of the semester will provide you with ideas and arguments, facts and data that will ground your work later on. Readings, along with the assignments, will prompt thought as you develop and look for effective ways to express your ideas. Selected readings (available in our three course texts) will ground our class discussions. And they illustrate choices other writers have made as they composed. Writing and reading are entwined, interdependent practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course.

Course Texts and Materials

A Concise Guide to Technical Communication

Gurak, Laura, and John Lannon. A Concise Guide to Technical Communication. 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 2004. ISBN 0-321-14615-8. (paperback, required)

The Longman Guide to Revising Prose

Lanham, Richard. The Longman Guide to Revising Prose. New York: Longman, 2006. ISBN 0-321-41766-6. (paperback, required)

A Whole New Mind

Pink, Daniel H. A Whole New Mind. New York: Riverhead, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59448-171-0. (paperback, required)

These texts are available at both the University Bookstore and Follett’s Orange Bookstore. Note: I have learned that Follett's has had some difficulty getting copies of the Gurak and Lannon text. Consider as alternatives for order, Amazon.com and Half.com. You should anticipate spending as much as $20 on printing and photocopying over the term of study.


You will receive many different kinds of feedback to your writing during this course. Some responses will come from fellow students and some will come from me. All forms of feedback, including responses you receive from scheduling consultation appointments with the Writing Center, are important. They tell you in various ways how your readers are responding to your writing. This will also help you learn how to assess your own work.


The listed assignments will be evaluated as follows:

Professional Writing Assignments, 50% (500 points)
P1. Two emails, 4% (40 points)
P2. Memo, 4% (40 points)
P3. Cover letter and resume, 8% (80 points)
P4. Short report, 10% (100 points)
P5. Long report, 20% (200 points)
P6. Reflective letter, 4% (40 points)

Each of the numbered professional writing assignments will be described in a separate prompt that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the term of study.

Discussion and Other Assignments 30% (300 points)
Personal introduction and response to a peer, 1% (10 points)
Business concept statement, 1% (10 points)
Letterhead, 1% (10 points)
Peer response, 6% (60 points)
Blackboard discussion participation, 21% (210 points)

Written Exams, 20% (200 points)
Take-home Exam #1, 10% (100 points)
Exam #2, 10% (100 points)

Late Work
All work must be completed and turned in on time to be considered for full credit. Work turned in late will receive a full grade deduction for each day that it is late. Therefore, an assignment that is due Friday afternoon by 3:00 p.m. will not earn passing credit after Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Discussion posts and peer response must be completed by the stated deadline to be considered for credit.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation
Writing studios are courses in language learning, and language is learned in communities; therefore, it is essential that you assume an active role in all activities associated with this course. WRT307 is an advanced writing studio. Absences, lack of preparation, and inadequate participation will affect your work and in many cases the work of your classmates. Remember that our syllabus is only a projection and may be subject to occasional changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your active attention and participation is vital. Time-bounded class discussions cannot be reconstructed or made up, and your performance, your work, and your final course grade will be impacted if you do not visibly participate. If you miss the equivalent of two weeks of classes or more without any official documented excuse you will not be able to pass the course (viz., presence is indicated by visible activity in the course). I don’t anticipate any of you will be in that position, provided you are invested in doing the work, intent on learning as much as you can, and committed to making the course a meaningful experience.

Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor
While you can expect a fair amount of leadership and direction to come from me, you should also make arrangements early in the semester to communicate with your peers. In other words, you are strongly encouraged to identify one or two (perhaps more) peers in the class with whom you can discuss readings and assignments, work through questions brought up in the class, and approach when you find something unclear. In short, my hope is that we all will prefer a climate in which conversation flows both between the instructor and students and also between and among students when questions come up. Finally, you should always be proactive about asking questions when you have them, either by raising questions in the Blackboard office/FAQ, in the discussion area, or by contacting me or one of your peers privately.

Special Needs
Students who are in need of disability-related academic accommodations must register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS), 804 University Avenue, Room 309; 315-443-4498.  Students with authorized disability-related accommodations should provide a current Accommodation Authorization Letter from ODS to me and review those accommodations with me.  Accommodations are not provided retroactively; therefore, planning for accommodations as early as possible is necessary.  For further information, see the ODS website, http://disabilityservices.syr.edu/.

The Writing Center
At the Writing Center (101 HBC; 443-5289) experienced, professional writing consultants will help you succeed on individual assignments and ultimately become a better writer. They work one-on-one to help you understand assignments, discuss your responses, revise your drafts, develop proofreading strategies, and more. Appointments are available in 25- or 50-minute sessions, and can be reserved up to seven days in advance via their online scheduling program: WC Online. The Writing Center also offers consulting appointments by email and by instant messaging (IM). On-site and online appointments are free to all students and highly recommended for every assignment you work on in WRT307.

Academic Integrity
All writing submitted for this course is understood to be your original work. In cases where academic dishonesty is detected (the fraudulent submission of another's work, in whole or part, as your own), you may be subject to a failing grade for the project or the course, and in the worst case, to academic probation or expulsion. For a more detailed description of the guidelines for adhering to academic integrity in the College of Arts and Sciences, go to http://academicintegrity.syr.edu.

Computer Technology
If this is the first time you have enrolled in a course with a substantial online component, you should let me know during the first week of class. With the exception of the first week of class, all of our interaction and involvement will take place online and will therefore require of you a moderate level of computer proficiency. We will be interacting with a variety of sites on the internet during the course (Google Reader, perhaps also Drop.io). In other words, you should be able to send and receive emails; you should check your email on a daily basis; and you should be prepared to log into the Blackboard discussion area, the library's research databases, and other sites on a regular basis; to save and back-up files; to copy and paste digital content; and to keep copies of all of your written work throughout the semester.

We will also use our syr.edu accounts, accessible via Mymail, for communicating messages not suited for the discussion forum. You may call and leave a phone message, but it is best to use email or AIM to contact me about your coursework, to set up an appointment to meet with me on campus, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Web Browser
As you might expect, we will be reading and engaging with a variety of sites on the internet during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. In general, I encourage you to use Mozilla Firefox for this course, only turning to Internet Explorer when a particular online application requires it. You can download and install a free copy of Mozilla Firefox at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/.

Contact Information
Derek N. Mueller
Summer 2009 office hours: Mon., 9-10 a.m. via IM and by appointment
Phone: (315) 708-3940 (cell)
AIM: ewidem