WRIT 340: Advanced Writing for Business
SYLLABUS & Calendar
Residential and Blended/online class
Professor: Sandra J. Chrystal, Ph.D.
Office: ACC 400 C
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs 7:00-7:30 a.m. and Wed. 1:30-2:30
Telephone: 213 740-5011
Teaching Assistant: Jennie Giang [email@example.com]
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND GOALS
WRIT 340 offers instruction in writing for various audiences on topics related to a student’s
professional or disciplinary interests, with some emphasis on issues of broad public concern. The
prerequisite is WRIT 140 or its equivalent.
The business version of this course, Advanced Writing for Business, is designed not only to help
you write effectively in a business environment, but also to improve your general ability to
research and analyze complex ideas, to appreciate and develop the skill of effective
argumentation, and to write clear, grammatical, well-structured communications. With some
emphasis on ethics and issues of public concern, coursework is designed to increase your capacity
to analyze audiences and tailor content and style to produce written presentations that
communicate with confidence.
Building on the skills you gained in WRIT 140, this class explores specific business writing
techniques and strategies through in-class lectures and exercises, individual writing assignments,
tutorial sessions, and a group project. The topics covered range from word-, sentence-, and
paragraph-level issues of correctness, conciseness, coherence, and clarity to more global
considerations of argumentation and organization, including a major unit on critical thinking.
Throughout the semester, emphasis is placed on developing systematic ways of identifying
relevant from non-essential information and then effectively and appropriately communicating
what is relevant to a wide variety of audiences. You will learn to regard effective business writing
in terms of a series of strategic choices, including choosing from among a repertoire of tones and
styles appropriate in different situations and with different audiences. You will also improve your
editing and critiquing skills, so that you can distinguish effective from ineffective writing and
help not just yourself but others as well to become better writers in a business context.
The course content of Advanced Writing for Business is practical today and long into the future.
You will begin using or improving many writing skills immediately—not just following
graduation or in a future career position. Bear in mind, however, that while an instructor can
teach you a lot of what you need to know to be a successful writer, no one can make you learn,
practice, modify, polish, or strengthen your skills. That part of the course is up to you.
This course focuses on improving your skills in gathering, analyzing, and organizing information,
and in communicating that information in effective and persuasive business documents. You will
learn what is needed to:
Communicate effectively to different audiences;
Evaluate options and make effective choices about the tone, style, and form the
communication should take;
Conduct research using a broad range of sources, synthesizing and judging the quality of
Prepare a variety of business documents—including memos, letters, emails, and reports—
using appropriate headings, layout, and typography;
Recognize and implement the qualities associated with effective business writing, particularly
the hallmarks of correctness, conciseness, coherence, and clarity;
Collaborate productively with others in completing writing and editing tasks;
Support your own written claims with logical and persuasive reasoning, and evaluate the
reasoning in the writing of others;
Express your ideas and conduct yourself in a professional manner.
This class, like a business, is a collaborative effort; we learn together in a team environment. It
will integrate your writing and team skills with electronic communication. We shall use the
Blackboard course management system for posting assignments, grades, threaded discussions,
and chat rooms. Several class sessions will use synchronous and asynchronous technology rather
than meeting in our traditional campus classroom. It is important, therefore, that you familiarize
yourself with Blackboard navigation, observe netiquette, and check the course calendar and
announcements at blackboard.usc.edu and your USC email before every class.
Note: According to University policy, instructors may replace any student who, without prior
consent, does not attend (a) the first two class sessions of a class that meets more than once a
week or (b) the first class session of once a week classes.
Your papers and presentations may be used for this class and for later class work and
publications. Your classroom activities may be videotaped and podcast.
We shall occasionally meet in the computer classroom so be sure that you check the calendar for
the password for that day.
Email: You can forward the university email to your other accounts, but be sure that you
check for email using your USC address before every class. When you email me, type
your section # and the specific topic on the subject line when you email me
EXAMPLE: 91718 question re. W P memo. Your email may not be read if it is not
filtered into the appropriate class mail section, or if it’s automatically sent to my spam
file because of an unfamiliar email name or subject line.
If you use a Mac, you may need to use the University’s computers. You can access E-learning’s computer
rooms on the lower level of Hoffman Hall. The Help Desk is located in HOH 300.
Ask the bookstore for the WRIT 340 for Business bundled version.
Bailey, Edward P. Writing for Work: A Practical Guide to Written Communication in
Browne, M. Neil and Stuart M. Keeley. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical
Thinking, 6th ed.
Miller, Arthur. All My Sons.
Electronic storage device with your name and class section on the label with you for
every class. Always keep a copy of every assignment that you write on your email,
storage device, and your hard drive. Losing your work does not constitute an excuse.
Headphones and microphone
Sound card and Realtime software
Manila folder with your name and class section written on the side tab
Microsoft Word Office 2007 software
Access to a laser printer or equivalent
USC e-mail account that you check before every class
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING
Major Writing Assignments. These documents must be posted to Turnitin by the due date, or they
will not be graded.
Trade Journal letter 8 80
A letter in which you respond to an article in a trade journal.
Business Ethics Position Paper 10 100
a persuasive document based on a business-ethics issue.
Insight Business Critical Thinking Analysis 10 100
A critical analysis and argument on a contemporary issue, based on the
critical thinking methodology developed in class and in your reading
Portfolio 20 200
A thorough reworking and polishing of two “major writing” assignments:
Other assignments 27 270
Group Project—15 Percent of Course 15 150
The project you will be working on throughout the semester is a reality-based, persuasive collaborative
effort. You will create business documents that a not-for-profit agency needs along with several associated
documents for reporting the writing process to the class. You will deliver both your agency’s materials and a
formal presentation to one or more decision-makers from the organization and to the class.
Agency contacts will assess your professionalism and your deliverables.
Assigned documents include an internal memo, a memo of understanding, progress reports, press release, executive
summary, formal report, and self and peer evaluations. Grades for some of these documents will be recorded under the
category of “other assignments.”
Professionalism 10 100
Attendance, punctuality, teamwork, conferences, agency collaboration evaluations, and participation in class and on the
course weblog, and in your private electronic journal contribute to your professionalism grade. Daily activities are generally
worth ten points and cannot be made up for full credit.
Absences, tardiness, use of electronic devices, eating food, and disruptive conversation will decrease your participation grade.
Total 100% 1,000
Electronic discussion board and/or journal entries (minimum)
Professional’s interview quote with speaker’s name, company name, and date of interview
Internal proposal memo (collaborative)
Comments on Writer’s profile memos
Memo of understanding
Trade journal citation and summary
Trade journal draft
Business and cultural issues that your agency faces
Ethics paper draft
Responses to peers’ portfolio (3) drafts
Insight Business draft
Personal electronic journal
Open a Word document and include these responses regularly (minimally)
writing experience and goals for the course
comments on each conference and reflections on your writing
all writing assignment’s reflections
reflections on the not-for-profit collaboration
mid-term assessment of what you’ve learned about process and products
final assessment of what you’ve learned about the writing process, your expected portfolio grade,
and rationale for the grade
final assessment of the team project—your learning, value to the community, ranking in comparison
to peers’ projects
EVALUATION OF YOUR WORK
I will do my best to make my expectations for the various assignments clear and to evaluate them as fairly and
objectively as I can. Come to my office if you have any questions. If you feel that an error has occurred in the
grading of any assignment, you may, within one week of the date the assignment is returned to you, write me
a memo in which you request that I re-evaluate the assignment. Attach the original assignment to the memo,
and explain fully and carefully why you think the assignment should be re-graded. Be aware that the re-
evaluation process can result in three types of grade adjustments: positive, none, or negative.
Your grade reflects your performance, professional writing and contributions to the learning environment .
It is not based on percentages, nor on the Marshall target GPA. The grade may not represent all of your
efforts in the class, but rather, it is determined by the USC rubric and in comparison to your peers’ writing.
As a rule, more effort generally results in better writing and more successful collaborations.
Assessments of individual and collaborative assignments will be made. Papers will be judged “in relation to
program standards and in comparison with other students’ texts. Evaluation is exclusively concerned with
the qualities of the text as product” (WLH 2.1). Writing Evaluation will include assessment of audience
analysis, thesis-driven exposition, development of argument, cogency, and style and grammar. See the USC
The final course grade also reflects your participation in class and as a collaborator with a not-for-profit
agency. Your participation grade will evaluate your professional contributions to the class: discussion,
attendance, promptness, teamwork, peer comments, and substantive ELECTRONIC POSTINGS which
encourage others’ participation and which contribute to the goals of the class.
Grades will not be posted nor sent by email. They will be written on your evaluated assignments,
provided during office conferences, and posted to Blackboard. In addition, they will be mailed if you submit
an addressed stamped envelope at the end of the semester.
Retention of Graded Papers – Returned paperwork, unclaimed by a student, may be discarded four weeks
after grades are posted by the University and, hence, will not be available should a grade appeal be pursued
by a student following receipt of his/her course grade.
ONE-ON-ONE WRITING CONFERENCES
In addition to my office hours, we will meet, one-on-one, at least three times during the semester. These
sessions will offer you an opportunity to discuss your writing strengths and specific difficulties you may have
in the writing process; they are not intended to be discussions about your grades. Be certain to bring along
your electronic journal, last graded assignment, and your in-progress writing task so we have something to
work with. Also pay close attention to any special requirements for each conference that I might mention in
class. Failure to attend a scheduled conference, or showing up late to one, counts the same as an absence
or lateness in a regular class session (see below).
PROFESSIONALISM: POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Preparation. You are expected to come to class fully prepared, with all required written assignments and
reading completed. This includes being fully prepared even if you were unable to attend a previous class
meeting. Always review the missed class with at least two classmates and review the class video. Check
the Blackboard announcements and the calendar the evening before every class.
Attendance and punctuality.
You are expected to attend all scheduled class sessions and to be in your seat, ready to learn, at the start of
class. More than two absences will negatively impact your final grade; if you are absent six or more times
prior to the last day to withdraw from a course with a grade of W, you will be asked to withdraw by that date.
Tardiness also lowers your participation grade. Most in-class activities have a ten point grade and cannot
be made up for full credit.
Participation and classroom demeanor. Part of your grade is based on your positive participation, verbal
and written. This means you are expected to be an active contributor to the class, not a passive listener.
Volunteer relevant comments, ask questions yourself; request clarification if something isn’t clear; challenge
others in a professional manner if you disagree with something presented; Your active participation can help
determine whether our class atmosphere will be dull and pedantic or energetic and engaging. Also respond
to peers’ comments on the threaded discussion.
While you are in class you are expected to conduct yourself professionally. This includes being
focused exclusively on WRIT 340, not on extraneous matters. Do not read newspapers, check
messages, or eat in class. Turn off your cell phones or other electronic devices before class begins.
Straighten up your area before you leave, so that the next class finds a clean and pleasant learning
Treat everyone in the room with the same respect and consideration you want to receive from them. Do not
interrupt or demonstrate rude behavior.
Assignments must be turned in at the beginning of the class period, on the front table, on the due date. Any
assignment turned in late, even if by only a few minutes, will receive a grade
deduction. If you are unable to attend class on the day a written assignment is due, make
arrangements for it to be delivered to the classroom or to my box by the start of class. The
grade on any assignment will be 0 (zero) points if it is submitted later than one week. Late
or not, however, you must complete all required assignments to pass this course.
You must submit your final articles to Blackboard’s Turnitin assignment. If you don’t have it posted by the
due date and time, the article is late.
NOTE: Documents will frequently be publicly posted and revised. An important part of this course is a series
of writing workshops, in which students critique each others’ drafts of major assignments. You are expected
to have a polished (not a rough) draft of the required assignment completed for peer evaluation. Failure to
have a polished draft on the due date will result in a significant grade penalty for that assignment. Always
keep copies of your documents in several areas. Lost/destroyed/broken computers or printers are not
excuses for late work.
Electronic submissions will not be saved for more than a week. Be sure that you have made copies of any
Business documents, memos, letters, and reports: See Bailey for specific document’s requirements.
Type format: 10-12 point, New Times Roman font single-space, one inch margins, pages 2-x numbered.
Works Cited page and in-text citations should adhere to MLA standards.
http://outlook.usc.edu. You must have your UNIX, not your Marshall, password to access Blackboard.
Insight Business. The Center for Management Communication has instituted an online journal, Insight
Business, with articles selected from WRIT340-Advanced Writing for Business classes. This is a legitimate
publication and those whose papers are selected for publication will find this to be a valuable resume
addition. See: http://www.marshall.usc.edu/web/MCOM.cfm?doc_id=5642
THE USC WRITING CENTER
The USC Writing Center, located on the third floor of Taper Hall, is an excellent resource for students who
want to improve their writing. You may schedule 30-minute appointments with writing consultants trained to
assist you in planning, organizing, correcting, and revising your assignments. Some consultants are
graduate business students in the Marshall School of Business. Others have special skills in working with
students for whom English is a second language.
The WC also offers a nine-week series of Writing Modules designed to help non-native speakers develop
the skills they need to succeed in WRIT 340. In addition, there are daily workshops on troublesome
language and grammar issues, open to all students.
It will usually be up to you whether or not to take advantage of the resources the Writing Center has to offer.
On occasion, however, I will require visits to the Writing Center—sometimes on a regular basis—if I feel the
need is present.
OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Plagiarism is the unacknowledged and inappropriate use of the ideas or wording of
another individual . . . [It] is considered a grave violation of academic integrity and the
sanctions against it are correspondingly severe (sanctions recommended by the university
range from a grade of F in the course to suspension from the university. Most simply,
plagiarism can be characterized as ‘academic theft.’
As defined in the University Student Conduct Code (published in the current SCampus),
‘The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the
student’s own work, whether that material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim
or near verbatim form;
‘The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that
results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style;
‘Improper acknowledgment of sources in essays or papers.’
The Student Conduct Code applies these standards to any written work submitted by a
student, whether a draft or a final version . . .
Because of the serious penalties for plagiarism, you should insure that any writing you
submit represents your own assertions and abilities and incorporates other texts in an
open and honest manner . . . In academic assignments, writing is assumed to be the
original words and thoughts of the student unless [the reader is] told otherwise (i.e.:
material from other sources is clearly and properly cited).
From Trojan Integrity: Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism
(USC Office for Student Conduct, rev. Fall 2000, pp. 2-3)
* You will submit your three portfolio-worthy documents to Turnitin, or the documents will not be
Assistance with Papers
In this course we encourage peer review, since it’s almost always helpful to have “another
set of eyes” take a look at your paper and offer comments and suggestions. But where
exactly is the boundary between helpful advice and illegitimate collaboration? Where
should you draw the line?
The following guidelines from the Writing Program answer this question explicitly:
The Writing Program encourages collaboration with your instructor, with Writing
Center consultants, and with your classmates; such interactions constitute one of
the most important and effective means by which writing is taught. In undertaking
collaborative interactions, however, remember that you are finally responsible for
guaranteeing that the resulting text represents your abilities and authority and not
those of the persons assisting you, however well-meaning they may be. A simple
guideline may help: Never allow someone else to construct a section of your text
longer than one or two sentences that you would not be able to produce on your
own, and never allow anyone to copy-edit more than the first page of your paper.
Students with Disabilities
Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to
register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. You can obtain a
letter of verification for approved accommodations from DSP. Please be sure the letter is
delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is
open 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213)
Advanced Writing for Business
BLENDED class calendar
Calendar of Activities
Follow these steps before each scheduled online or residential class
1. View the class announcements and agenda (course information folder)
2. Review the course calendar (Course information folder)
3. Review the “assignments” folder. Student samples are posted to BB or may be viewed in
4. Read your USC email for any messages from teammates or me.
Readings will be found in your textbooks or posted to the Blackboard “readings” folder. Some readings will
be marked “optional.” If you want to learn more, read this supplementary material.
Review the recent videocast or access the podcast (Bb Course Documents folder), or complete the
assigned activity within 24 hours of each class that is designated as “online.”
If the residential class has a quiz or in-class activity, you have to complete that activity also. Listen for
directions that I provide on the video.
Optional aid: See www.professorbailey.com.
Date & Location Assignments completed before class In-class activities
Aug 26 Print and bring your Discuss Self & class goals
syllabus and calendar to class. Assess your writing experience & projections for career writing
Meet on campus
Review the syllabus
In HOH 418 Print, sign, and bring your
Class #1 transportation and IP waivers (BB Collaborative Project: agency deliverables
documents) internal proposal
Writing Rubric & assessment protocol,
Collect Permission to publish & travel waiver
Aug 28 Bailey. Chapter 1 “What Is Good Diagnostic writing
Meet on campus Chap 4 “Making Your Page Look Inviting” Discuss writer’s profile investigative memo
And Appendix “C”
Bring a laptop if 8:30 Jerry Whitfield will introduce you to Second Life
you have one. Make an appointment with a professional
in your area of interest for your writer’s Discuss:
profile investigative memo What is effective business writing? What makes a good memo?
Create an Internal memo.
Team collaborative data, goals, expectations, and penalties
along with agency’s data.
Post team’s internal memo to the discussion board
Library access: http://libproxy.usc.edu/login
Read Keller & Schwom. “Page Design”
Sept 2 (BB>documents>readings) Est. interview questions for Writer’s Profile site visit
Computer lab Browne & Keeley Ch. 4 Review MOU
Bridge 202 A
Writing diagnostic. Post to assignment.
Critical thinking, business Style & tone—
msbguest Post team’s internal memo to discussion
Bailey. Chap 2. “Developing a good
Agency ‘s site Agency site visit. Discuss the writing deliverables and establish
visit Browne and Keeley. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 the meetings, focus group, deliverables, and presentation dates
Establish contact person for the agency and team and e-mail,
Team Meeting with your agency contact phone protocols.
4. Draft the MOU. Include all due dates for
the agency and you.
Bailey Chap 3 “Examples” Plain English, (Christopher Cox tape)
Go to and “Illustrating”
BB>documents> Organizing your message, content, format and readability
Video or podcast in business writing
Examples, Compare and contrast --
Website: Center for Ethics and Business. LMU.
Toolkit>Take this quiz:
Write your results & reflections Discuss trade journal reading,
in your electronic journal (Word doc)
5. Electronic communication, blogs, E-mail, and discussion boards
“Thinking Ethically: A Framework for Moral Decision Making”
Sept 11 Post MOU to the discussion board.
Meet on campus
Last day to drop
Group role play. Maria Elena
Sept 16 Gandossy and Kanter. “See No Evil, Discuss Formal report and agency deliverables
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” (Bb
Online session. docs>readings) Peer review of Writer’s Profile investigative memo-assigne
View View: http://feedster.com/
Video or podcast
Ethics in business—importance of models
Christopher Cox, SEC
Post progress report # 1- review of all
previous meetings and future plans &
dates to discussion board.
E-mail a copy to your agency contact
Post polished draft of Writer’s Profile
investigative memo to the discussion
board and bring a hardcopy for class
Sept 18 Writer’s Profile investigative memo Agency site visit
(hardcopy with supplementary
Agency site visit materials in folder). Put this in my
mailbox before class. (ACC 400)
Browne & Keeley Ch. 12 & 13.
Sept 23 Post progress report Lay-outs (visual integration) of business documents.
# 2 student (e-mail to agency & hardcopy
to me) Team meeting
Browne & Keeley
View -rival causes and use of statistics.
Video or podcast
Post Trade journal ltr draft to discussion Trade journal peer editing on two peers’ articles
Online session. board and bring hardcopy to class
View Bailey. Chap 5 “Making Your Main Point
Video or podcast Easy to Find”
Sept 30 Trade journal letter -post to Bb Turnitin
and bring hardcopy to class On-line library resources guest lecture.
Meet on campus
Browne & Keeley “Value conflicts and Library access: http://libproxy.usc.edu/login
Assumptions” Discuss triangulation of sources-online research, survey,
11 focus group
Post progress report 3
Determine assessment tools for deliverables,
formal report and presentation, storyboard, & team evaluations.
Discuss ethics white paper.
Oct 2 .
12. Post progress report # 4 student Writing and discussion
—Include each teammate’s perceptions
on a pie chart and strategies for change. Distribute Thomas Friedman. The World is Flat &
“what convergence means for you”
Friedman, Milton. “The Social (hand out)
Responsibility of Business is to Increase
Its Profits.” NYT. 1970 (BB docs)
Davis, Ian. “What is the Business of
Business?” McKinsey Quarterly. 2006
Oct 7 Kelly. “The Shining Side of Capitalism” Team assessment and strategy development
Online session. Discuss Kelly’s article, the impact of ethical training on
corporate culture and best practices of corporate
View social responsibility.
Video or podcast Post comments to discussion board
reporting which business & cultural
issues your agency and its clients face. The 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2007:
Discuss Thomas Friedman’s comments.
Class eval of your learning (Post Agency site visit
comments to your e-journal)
FOCUS group or survey
Business ethics-“Defining Moments”
Online session. Progress report # student 5--
Report on the survey or focus group
Video or podcast
Browne & Keeley. Ch. 8 Evidence & 9
Badaracco. “Defining Moments”
The Institute for Business and
Professional Ethics website
Oct 16 Post ethics white paper draft to the Team Rehearsal w/camera –Ipod appointments at library
On-campus Peer editing-bring a hardcopy of the ethics draft.
Post questions and arguments to two
classmates’ drafts—students not in your
class section. Bring a hardcopy to class.
16. Bailey 12 Documenting Your Sources”
Oct 21 Discuss ABC competition and Insight Business/Critical thinking
Bilefsky. “Financial Rewards of Showing Assignment: http://www.usc.edu/org/InsightBusiness/
Online session. Integrity” (BB>docs>readings)
View Effective Evidence
Video or podcast Citations
17. See: http://www.michiganjb.org/
Ethics article (hardcopy and submit to Bb Team meeting-electronic or f2f
View video or Turnitin--BB)
Oct 28 Post each individual’s section of the Discuss the formal report and executive summary
Agency’s Deliverable to the assignment
Oct 30 Rehearse & tape agency presentation.
About the Social Innovation Fast Pitch
An exciting event hosted by Los Angeles
Social Venture Partners, Social
Enterprise Institute and the USC Stevens
Institute for Innovation
The formal program will including a
keynote by Ethos Water founder and
former Vice President for Starbucks
Coffee, Jonathan Greenblat, an
interactive discussion of social innovation,
and live, three-minute ‘pitches’ from local
nonprofits* selected for their innovative
approaches for creating social change
and their ability to powerfully
communicate their vision. Participating
nonprofits will compete for the chance to
present their ideas to a panel of experts
and to win up to $10,000 in funding.
Nov 4 Agency Presentations
Online session. Deliver the team’s writing product to the agency contact.
Deliver the team’s writing product to Discuss ABC competition
View the agency contact.
Video or podcast
Bailey. Appendix B “Creating Reports”
Post each individual’s written section of
the formal report to the BB assignment
“Why Business Can’t Control Chicanery”
Nov 11 Formal report ( 2 copies) Discuss press release (collaborative-Google apps)
Online session. & portfolio
Post each individual’s Executive summary
View to assignment folder (Bb) rank formal reports
Video or podcast
Pre-write Insight Business article in-class
“Safari of the
Soul: The Quest
for Water in
and Voices. 7:00
pm Town and
Nov 13 Conferences
Insight Business polished draft.
Online session. I B voluntary Peer editing
Video or podcast
Nov 18 Insight Business--Critical thinking article
(hardcopy & Bb Turnitin-BB Press release team writing— Use Google apps.
Last day to drop
with a “W” Post peer/self rating to assignment Portfolio conference
Campus (Forms are found in BB collaboration
Nov 25 Post e-journal to the Bb assignment Portfolio conferences- Bring your assessment of your writing
folder. process and plans for your portfolio (in your e-journal.
26. Insight Business article hardcopy &
All My Sons All My Sons in-class writing
Class # 28 Portfolios (= final exam)