Instructor: Dr. Thomas Lowderbaugh
Office: Tawes 1220A
Office Hours: TU: 11:00 – 12:00. TH: 3:15 –
Telephone: 301/405-3774 (the worst way to
reach me)
E-mail: [email protected] (the best way to
reach me). Note: This e-mail address
automatically forwards all correspondence to
my personal Gmail account, from which I will
respond to you.
Teaching Assistant: Mr. Jacob Knippel
E-mail: [email protected]
Office Hours: Available by appointment
Class Sessions: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Fall 2015: Academic Calendar
Class Locations: Tawes 0232
Please continue to check Testudo for at least the first two weeks, because room assignments
often change.
Pre- or Co-requisites: You must have earned junior status (a minimum of sixty credit hours)
before you may register for this course.
Course Description: English 394: Business writing satisfies the Professional Writing requirement
for undergraduates. The course gives students both a theoretical background in rhetoric and a
practical understanding of the common genres that they will employ in professional settings.
Students learn to write with clarity, style and correctness, having practiced the tools for revising
and editing.
Assignments parallel the writing demands that students will face in a business environment where
workers produce texts both individually and collaboratively. Core assignments include business
correspondence (e-mails, letters, and memos), a major course research project (for example, a
promotional package, a proposal, a business plan, a publicity campaign), collaborative projects
(for example, a research report, an evaluative report, or a policy analysis), and oral presentation.
Other assignments may include instructions, press releases, brochures, and speeches.
Assignments mirror the kinds of writing that office work requires. Our course work models itself on
the ways that professionals draft, revise, rewrite, polish, and publish work.
The instructor’s role in the course is to function both as supervisor and instructor, giving
assignments, evaluating papers and guiding students to meet the assignments’ goals.
The teaching assistant’s role is to provide students with hands-on guidance both with an
overview of the course’s requirements and its intellectual arc and with one-on-one tutorial support
as students write and revise assignments.
The students’ role is to function much like professional staff by responding to a supervisor’s
assignments. Participating in class work is much like participating in the work of an office. And
such participation presumes that:
1. Students attend all class sessions (see attendance policy below), arriving on time
2. Students arrive in class with the day’s assignment, ready to work
Course Goals: English 394 is designed to help students master the skills of workplace writing,
the kind of writing that gets students a job interview, leads to a change in program or policy, or
secures funding for a project.
By the end of the course you will be able to do the following:
Analyze a variety of professional rhetorical situations and produce appropriate texts in
Understand the stages required to produce competent, professional writing through
planning, drafting, revising, and editing
Identify and implement the appropriate research methods for each writing task
Practice the ethical use of sources and the conventions of citation appropriateness to
each genre
Write for the intended readers of a text, and design or adapt text to audience who may
differ in their familiarity with the subject matter
Demonstrate competence in Standard Written English, including grammar, sentence and
paragraph structure, coherence, and document design (including the use of visuals) and
be able to use this knowledge to revise texts
Produce cogent arguments that identify arguable issues, reflect the degree of available
evidence, and take account of counter arguments
The course assignments are constructed to develop that broad range of skills. Those are high
goals, but UMCP students achieve them semester after semester.
Class Format, Practices and Expectations
Working through revisions is the basic process that we use in this course. Therefore I will not
accept any assignment for which I have not previously seen a working version. For the same
reason, changing topics at the last minute is not allowed.
The basic principle that guides this course: Make all your mistakes, solve all your problems for
free. The final version that I grade should reflect the work that you’ve accomplished before
submitting the paper.
Three Important Notes
1. Most of our classes will involve working on your revisions. Failure to bring a substantial,
credible version to class is failing to meet the course requirements. Not bringing a
credible version for us to work on in class has the same effect as missing the class
session: your body may be here but your work and your brain are not. Such a failure is
equivalent to deciding on a whim not to go to work for a week but to spend a week at the
beach. Upon your return you might discover not only that you no longer had a job but
also that your last boss would make sure that any prospective employer would be warned
about your problematic attitude.
2. Some students are temped to bring their latest revisions on their notebook computers
instead of on paper. As students eventually discover, this strategy inevitably fails. It
severely limits a team’s in-class ability to read and revise papers. Bring a hard copy for
every team member. Passing a computer from hand to hand wastes time. If every team
member has a notebook computer or a tablet, the team may decide to e-mail each other
that latest version. Students soon discover, however, that this practice serves them ill, as
they waste time hunting for the right sentence in the right paragraph on the right page.
3. In short, failing to heed this advice has lowered past students’ grades by one or two
letters. Students who might have received an A an in the course end up with a C or even
a C-. Be warned now how serious this advice is.
Budget $20 to $30 for photocopying and printing for this course as well as for paper, toner,
Terrapin Express, and CDs. All versions—including the final versions for me to grade—are due at
the beginning of the class period. Failing to bring copies (either working copies or final,
publishable copies) for class is the same as not submitting the assignment at all.
The course will adhere to the standards and policies of the Professional Writing Program. In
addition to completing a minimum for 25 pages of publishable copy, students must submit
complete portfolios of their papers at the course’s end. Students may claim their folders after a
full semester has elapsed.
Conferences: Although I invite students to discuss their work with me outside class, I require
attendance at conferences that we schedule during or outside class time. Each student should
expect to confer with me at least twice during this course. (Note: Failing to keep an appointment
with me counts heavily against your professionalism when I tally the final course grade.)
Attendance and Lateness: To succeed in this course requires regular punctual attendance.
Classroom discussions and in-class work account for a significant part of your grade, and class
participation, once missed, cannot be restored.
Below are the policies on unexcused absences and excused absences as well as on tardiness.
Please note that missing more than three class sessions for any reason may result in a zero for
the professionalism/participation portion of your grade and may jeopardize your overall course
grade. If you are absent you are responsible for finding out what you missed. Missing more than
one week of classes will make catching up difficult, probably impossible.
Unexcused Absences. You may take up to two class sessions’ worth of no-questions-asked
absences for both the expected reasons (e.g., being the best man in your brother’s wedding) and
the unexpected (e.g., replacing a flat tire).
If you take a no-questions-asked absence, however, you are still responsible for whatever
material was covered in class. If a major scheduled grading event (assignment due, in-class
workshop/peer editing, 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 all the points for
that exercise.
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 observances, and for compelling circumstances 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.
Students are expected to inform the instructor in advance of medically necessary absences, and
present a self-signed note documenting the date of the missed class(es) and testifying to the
need for the absence. This note must include an acknowledgement that (a) the information
provided is true and correct, and (b) that the student understands that providing false information
to University officials is a violation of Part 9(h) of the Code of Student Conduct. The university’s
policies on medical and other absences can be found at:
Prolonged absence or illness preventing attendance from class requires written documentation
from the Health Center and/or health care provider verifying dates of treatment when student was
unable to meet academic responsibilities.
Absence due to religious observance will not be penalized; however, it is the student’s
responsibility to notify the instructor within the first three weeks of class regarding any religious
observance absence(s) for the entire semester. The calendar of religious holidays can be found
at: http://faculty.umd.edu/teach/attend_student.html#religious
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 the
class, and let me know by the end of the schedule adjustment period if you anticipate ongoing
conflicts. Remember that you are responsible to catch up on your own time, not the classes. Thus
two late arrivals (or unexplained early departures) will convert to one unexcused absence.
Class runs for the full seventy-five minutes each day. Do not schedule other events for class
time—for example, study groups, mock interviews, organization meetings, interviews with experts
needed for the term project. Such activities fail to provide excused absences from class.
Late Papers: All assignments and due dates are listed on this syllabus—including assignments
due via e-mail. Assignments are due at the beginning of class or at the times specified on the
syllabus. Assignments handed in after that time will be accepted, but the grade will be reduced by
ten per cent for each day the assignment is late. Please note: You should check your e-mail
frequently, even on weekends.
Emergency Protocol: Class assignments will continue even if the university closes for inclement
weather. I’ll make every effort to stay on schedule; due dates will remain firm, and we will
continue to interact with each other via e-mail.
Academic integrity: The student-administered Honor Code and Honor Pledge prohibit students
from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses
without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents and forging signatures. On
every examination, paper or other academic exercise not specifically exempted by the instructor,
students must write by hand and sign the following pledge:
I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on
this examination (or assignment).
Allegations of academic dishonesty will be reported directly to the Student Honor Council:
http://www.shc.umd.edu .
Students with disabilities: The University of Maryland is committed to providing appropriate
accommodations for students with disabilities. Students with a documented disability should
inform the instructors within the add-drop period if academic accommodations are needed. To
obtain an Accommodation Letter prepared by Disability Support Service (DSS), a division of the
University Counseling Center. Please call 301-314-7682, e-mail [email protected], or visit the
Shoemaker Building for more information.
Copyright notice: Class lectures and other materials are copyrighted and they may not be
reproduced for anything other than personal use without written permission from the instructor.
Classroom Conduct Policy: Everyone in the classroom is to be treated with respect and
courtesy as befitting professional colleagues. You are expected to:
Come to class prepared to engage in meaningful discussion, with completed graded and
non-graded assignments, including assigned readings
Pay attention in class and participate in classroom activities and exercises
Avoid side conversations
Not e-mail, instant message; read newspapers; surf the Web, and the like. Note:
The computer labs contain a program allowing me to see what is on all screens at all
times and also to broadcast that screen to the entire class
Not eat or drink anything in a computer lab—except bottled water. (The prohibition
includes sodas and coffee.)
Doing otherwise will result in a substantial decline in the Professionalism portion of your
Cell Phone, Laptop Policy: All cell phones and other electronic communications devices must
be turned off upon entering the classroom or as class is about to start. Laptops must be turned off
for classes that meet in a computer lab. You should plan as well to turn them off in the noncomputer classroom.
Work Make-up Policy: Most group exercise, quizzes, and in-class writing assignments missed
due to absence cannot be made up unless you have a university-sanctioned excused absence.
Terrapin Express Card: In order to print in the computer lab, you must have a Terrapin Express
card. Directions for getting one can be found at http://terpexp.umd.edu/. Please make sure that
you have money on the card when you come to class.
Grading: I use a point system, assigning a maximum number of points for an A paper in that
Reflective essay: Establishing expectations: 10 points
Resume and cover letter: 10 points
Thank you letter: 10 points
Writing team contract: 10 points
Resource Review: 30 points
Proposal to conduct a study: 50 points
Review panel reports: 25 points
Reflective memo: Mid-term self-assessment: 10 points
Progress report: 10 points
Rhetorical situation memo: 15 points
Expert proposal: 75 points
Oral presentation: 20 points
Summary and evaluation of oral presentation: 20 points
Evaluation of writing team: 20 points
Reflective memo: Revisiting your expectations: 10 points
Professionalism: 30 points
Grading Scale: The undergraduate catalogue provides a complete definition of the university’s
grading system: http://www.umd.edu/catalog/index.cfm/show/content.section/c/27/ss/1584/s/1534
A+, A, A- denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship. In
computations of cumulative or semester averages, a grade of A+ or A will be assigned a
value of 4.0 quality points per credit hour. A grade of A- will be assigned 3.7 quality points
per credit hour.
B+, B, B- denotes a good mastery of the subject and good scholarship. A grade of B+ is
assigned a value of 3.3 quality points per hour. A grade of B is assigned a value of 3.0
quality points per credit hour. A grade of B- is assigned a value of 2.7 quality points per
C+ C, C- denotes an acceptable mastery of the subject. A grade of C+ is assigned a
value of 2.3 quality points per hour. A grade of C is assigned a value of 2.0 points per
credit hour. A grade of C- is assigned a value of 1.7 quality points per credit hour.
D+, D, D- denotes a borderline understanding of the subject. It denotes a marginal
performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress toward a degree. A grade of
D+ is assigned 1.3 points per credit hour. A grade of D is assigned a value of 1.0 quality
point per credit hour. A grade of D- is assigned 0.7 quality points per credit.
F denotes a failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance. A mark of
F is assigned a value of 0 quality points per credit hour
XF denotes failure due to academic dishonesty
In this course, the grading scale works as follows:
A, A+ = 338 – 355
A= 320 -- 337
= 309 – 319
= 302 – 308
B= 284 – 301
= 273 – 283
= 266 – 272
C= 249 – 265
= 238 – 248
= 231 – 237
D= 213 – 230
= 0 – 212
In a business or office context the grades would translate as follows:
A = The supervisor congratulates the writer on exceptional work
B = The supervisor returns the document with guidance (usually vague and inadequate)
on how to improve it: “Nice start. Fix it!”
C = The supervisor asks another employee to fix the document
D = The supervisor calls the Human Resources Office to find out what kind of coaching
or training might address the employee’s weakness. Or the supervisor might suggest that
the employee update his/her resume
F = The supervisor calls the Human Resources Office to find out what next steps are
possible, including how to fire the employee
The Grading Rubric explains my process in grading all papers.
Course Materials:
The course packet is available only at Bookholders, 7417 Baltimore Avenue, College Park.
Phone: 301-209-9313.
Recommended Course Textbook: Instead of requiring a handbook, I recommend that students
learn how to use an excellent FREE online resource:
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
Using this resource will familiarize you with guides that you can use when you are on the job
while at the same time saving you the high cost of textbook. I therefore encourage you to
bookmark this site for reference long after you have succeeded in this course.
SCHEDULE: Please note that all major (i.e., grade-determining) assignments are bolded in this
1 (T)
Introduction to the course. Course policies. Rhetoric and argumentation. Term project.
Thank you letter. Assignment: Reflective Essay: Establishing your expecations
2 (W)
Due: Proposed term project topic. Due via e-mail no later than noon
3 (Th) Due: Resume and cover letter. Term project topics: Q&A. Memos. First reflective essay:
Establishing your expectations. Assignment: Team contract
8 (T)
Due: Revised resumes and cover letters. Business letters. Thank you letters. Term
project: Resource reviews. Publishable First Reflective Essay
10 (Th) Due: Publishable Resume and Cover Letter. Revised resource review. Thank you
letter. Draft team contract
15 (T) Due: Publishable Thank You letter. Resource review. Draft team contract
16 (W) Due: Publishable Writing Team Contract. No later than noon via e-mail
17 (Th) Due: Revised resource review
22 (T) Due: Publishable Resource Review. Proposal to conduct a study.
24 (Th) Due: Proposal to conduct a study: problem section
29 (T) Due: Proposal to conduct a study: problem and methodology sections
1 (Th) Due: Proposal to conduct a study: entire document
6 (T)
Due: Proposal to conduct a study: final review before submission
7 (W)
Due: Publishable proposal to conduct a study: multiple copies. Due no later than 9:00
a.m. in hard copy
8 (Th) Due: Review panels meet
13 (T) Due: Review panels meet
14 (W) Due: Publishable review panel reports. Due no later than 5:00 p.m. via e-mail
15 (Th) Due: Expert proposal overview. Rhetorical situation memo. Conferences by appointment
16 (F) Due: Conferences by appointment
20 (T) Due: Publishable reflective memo: Mid-term self-assessment. Rhetorical situation
22 (Th) Due: Rhetorical situation memo: revised
27 (T) Due: Publishable rhetorical situation memo. Expert proposal problem section
29 (Th) Due: Expert proposal problem section
3 (T)
Due: Expert proposal problem section
5 (Th) Due: Expert proposal problem section
10 (T) Due: Publishable progress report
12 (Th) Due: Expert proposal: problem and solution sections
17 (T) Due: Expert proposal: entire document
19 (Th) Due: Expert proposal: entire document
24 (T) Due: Expert proposal: last in-class revisions. Oral reports
26 (Th) Thanksgiving: no class
Important Note: Class will meet
on November 24, addressing
major assignments. Travel plans
should reflect these requirements.
30 (M) Due: Publishable expert proposals. Due no later than 9:00 a.m. in hard copy
1 (Th) Due: Orals
3 (T)
Due: Orals
8 (Th) Due: Orals
10 (T) Due: Orals. Due: Complete course portfolio
12 (St) Due: Publishable final three memos. Due no later than 9:00 a.m. via e-mail
1. Memo summarizing and evaluating an oral report
2. Memo evaluating writing team
3. Third reflective memo: Revisiting your expectations
Examinations: This course includes NO EXAMS. (Yes, that means no final exam as well.)
Course evaluations are a part of the process by which the University of Maryland seeks to
improve teaching and learning. Your participation in this official system is critical to the success of
the process, and all information submitted to CourseEvalUM is confidential. (Instructors can only
view group summaries of evaluations and cannot identify which submissions belong to which
Diversity: The University of Maryland values the diversity of its student body. Along with the
University, I am committed to providing a classroom atmosphere that encourages the equitable
participation of all students regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race,
religion, or sexual orientation. Potential devaluation of students in the classroom that can occur
by reference to demeaning stereotypes of any group and/or overlooking the contributions of a
particular group to the topic under discussion is inappropriate. (See Statement on Classroom
Climate, http://www.umd.edu/catalog/index.cfm/show/content.section/c/27/ss/1584/s/1541).
Academic Accommodations for Students Who May Experience Sexual Misconduct: The
University of Maryland is committed to providing support and resources, including academic
accommodations, for students who experience sexual or relationship violence (as defined by the
University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy). To report an incident and/or obtain an academic
accommodation, contact the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct at 301-405-1142. If you
wish to speak confidentially, contact Campus Advocates Respond and Educate (CARE) to Stop
Violence at 301-741-3555. Disclosures made to faculty are not confidential and must be reported
to the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. For more information visit
Important Notes:
1. This syllabus—which is subject to change—omits most in-class exercises and other
small assignments.
2. The only required textbook is the course packet, published by Linemark and sold only at
the Bookholders.
3. This course requires you to write several papers. The English Department requires a
minimum of twenty-five publishable pages for every 300- and 400-level writing
course. The course includes no examinations.
4. If you encounter problems with the course, raise them with me immediately. I can help
you deal with and solve problems as they arise but cannot solve problems after the fact.
Problems grow complex as they age. A problem that we could have solved during the
course’s first week can become impossible to solve by mid-term and certainly by the
last week.
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