ENGL 3040: Business Writing (Online, Spring 2020)


ENGL 3040: Business Writing                                            Clemson University

Section# 402, ONLINE                                                                                                                Spring 2020



INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jennifer Forsberg

EMAIL: jforsbe [at] clemson.edu

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:15-1:15PM, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00PM, and by appointment




Business Writing is intended to be an introduction to the concerns of audience, context, and purpose for texts common in professional business settings. This course focuses on writing strategies for varied rhetorical situations in common business forms such as: memoranda, letters, reports, and proposals. The goal is to provide practical writing strategies in an effort to make your business communications both effective and efficient.



After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of clear, concise communication in business communications.
  • Gain familiarity and apply audience-based compositional strategies that are appropriate in form, tone and style to the business world.
  • Utilize varied writing strategies and revision practices for effective communication across business formats, especially in digital compositions.
  • Construct arguments and take positions that are supported with evidence and consider the complexity of business ethics within communication practices.
  • Develop and apply precise and purposeful written communication in the pre-employment stage and as required by potential employers.
  • Anticipate the needs of a business environment and attend to them through precise language and documentation in routine messages, customer service, staff management, proposals or reports, and employment messages.



Master critical thinking skills and rhetorical concepts as they apply to professional environments and the ethical considerations within them (LO1)

  • Explore the dynamics of professional communities and the nuances of communicating within them.
  • Research and evaluate information from professional, academic, and governmental resources that are appropriate for workplace genres and rhetorical situations.
  • Analyze data from research and incorporate it into assigned writing to achieve clear, concise, and logical communication, properly cited.
  • Analyze and evaluate information for quality and validity that effectively responds to the purpose, audience, context, and genre.
  • Pinpointing the risks associated with different writing strategies and making deliberate writing decisions to compose effective texts.


Apply effective communications strategies to targeted readers (LO2)

  • Study and understand the ethical, international, social, and professional constraints of audience, style, and content for writing situations internal to the organization and external to it (i.e. other companies and/or the public).
  • Practice writing for targeted audiences and implementing the stylistic, mechanical, and organizational strategies that will effectively reach them.
  • Pinpoint and analyze the challenges that accompany writing in the workforce (addressing sensitive situations, targeting broad audiences, planning for the uncertainties associated with targeted readers, navigating the nuances of relational dynamics amongst various readers) and developing strategies for effective communication.


Compose effectively in a variety of forms and media appropriate to the discipline (LO3)

  • Practice writing specific genres of business communication appropriate to the contexts and audiences. These genres may include white papers, recommendations reports, analytical reports, proposals, memorandums, web pages, wikis, blogs, business letters, and promotional documents.
  • Produce documents in writing processes that include peer review, revision, and production of a variety of genres.
  • Practice editing professional documents for precision, clarity, professionalism, and heightened style.
  • Practice communicating effectively in staged performance contexts appropriate to the professional world, such as proposals, pitch presentations, client interactions, and progress reports.
  • Develop writing styles that are concise, clear, accurate, without ambiguity, or wordiness.



Writing that Works, 12th edition. by Walter E. Oliu, Charles T. Brusaw & Gerald J. Alred. ISBN: 9781319019488 (digital or paperback)

The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing by Claire Meirowitz & Natalie Canavor. ISBN: 9780137015436


As an online class, this course requires the use of computer technologies and digital materials. You are expected to use your technology effectively and responsibly. Use online resources or Google searches to solve issues with Canvas, Adobe Spark or Flipgrid. Please utilize campus resources and CCIT for any hardware, connectivity, or technology issues. Finally, please use your @clemson.edu email (not @g.clemson) address for any account creation. Access Flipgrid via Canvas integration: https://flipgrid.com/forsberg3040




Attendance and Scheduling:

This is an online class that provides you flexibility for your schedule. However, deadlines still exist and a strict schedule of readings, assignments, and course requirements remain. I have organized the class to have regular deadlines on Thursdays and Sundays; please look to the schedule to identify the course content you should cover (Prezis, instructional videos, readings) and the upcoming assignments that ask you to apply that information (discussion threads, writing practice, portfolios).


Because this course relies upon peer-to-peer interaction and feedback you cannot submit work or move ahead more than 3 class periods from our scheduled date.


Course Disruptions

In the event that there is a course disruption due to weather or connectivity I will communicate any extensions or postponements of assignments via email or Canvas within 24 hours.


Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on “Academic Integrity”: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university. See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/




The Writing Center (307 Academic Success Center building)

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website (http://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/writing/), by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.


Students with Disabilities

It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services to discuss their individualized needs for accommodation. For more information visit http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/index.html


Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).


Office Hours

I hold office hours on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12:30P-1:30PM and on Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00PM in Strode 502. Please come by and utilize the help I am ready to offer. During busy times of the semester (near major assignments and the final weeks) I suggest that you contact me for a scheduled appointment so I can guarantee you time. I check my email Monday through Friday from 8AM-4PM. You should not expect to hear from me outside of those times and need to plan accordingly if you have questions about an upcoming deadline or reading.


In addition, I am happy to schedule meetings via Adobe Connect or other conferencing platforms to provide feedback on assignments, guidance on your class performance, or answer questions you might have about your progress.




Grading System:

Clemson University’s grading system is described in the 2019-2020 Undergraduate Announcements, p. 25-27.  Grades of A, B, C, D, F, I, P, NP and W may be given in accordance with academic regulations. For more information on this grading system, please see the Registrar’s web site at http://www.registrar.clemson.edu/html/finalGrades.htm.


Every point matters. I aim to provide you timely and detailed feedback and opportunities to improve your score throughout the term. For that reason I do not entertain requests to round your final grade at the end of the term, but do have a policy to award students who stand at 69.5, 79.5, 89.5 and above the next letter grade.


Grading Policy

Canvas Grade Book is a helpful tool for keeping watch on your overall grade in real time throughout the course. However, it is your responsibility to keep up with your grades and contact me if you believe there is has been an error in your earnings. Any concerns must be addressed within 2 weeks of that score’s release.


Due Dates and Late Work Policy

All assignments are due to Canvas at 12:00 noon on the deadline date unless otherwise specified. If work is submitted after the deadline it will be considered late and will incur a 50% deduction for each 24-hour period. Assignments more than 48 hours late will earn no credit.


Written Assignments

Each assignment has a grading rubric to ensure that you are meeting the course objectives and the learning objectives across the chapters we are covering. These rubrics should serve as a checklist before you submit assignments in addition to a detailed explanation of how your work will be assessed.


File Formatting on Canvas

Uploaded files should always be labeled with your LastNameFirstNameAssignmentName. Ex: SmithJ2_149. Please upload .DOC or .PDF files to Canvas for easy peer review and/or feedback. If using GoogleDocs, save as a PDF before uploading to secure your formatting.




Grammar Tutorials:

For this task each student will be required to post one discussion thread with an assigned grammar issue. Your post should be a resource created in Adobe Spark Pages, Adobe Spark Video or other multimedia format for online posting (please embed for ease of viewing). You should include: a brief explanation of rule/error with examples, 3 short practice exercises, and 3 recommendations for avoiding the error or addressing the issue. Be sure to cite any sources you consult, including the textbook appendix. Assigned tutorial topics will be listed on Canvas for your reference. You will be required to return to your post within one week to assess a peer’s submission to the practice exercises.

Grammar Tutorial is worth 5% of your grade


New Rules of Business Writing Facilitations on Flipgrid:

At your designated time in the schedule, you will be responsible for facilitating the class through the content of your assigned truth pairing in a 1:30 video. This should not be a summary of your sections, but rather a reflection that prompts a class discussion related to the content, approach, or practicality of the rule. You must submit a 250-word ¶ that surveys the replies/responses you received to Canvas within 1 week of your original post. Assigned rule pairings will be listed on Canvas for your reference. I will post your earnings at midterm and the end of the term to mark your progress.

New Rules Facilitations are worth 5% of your grade


Canvas Discussion Threads and Flipgrid Responses:

  • Each student is required to respond to 15 Flipgrid New Rules facilitations by the scheduled weekly deadline (no more than 2/week). These responses should be 30-45 seconds in length and related to a discussion sparked by the original poster. The goal here is communication, collaboration, and congenial professionalism so be sure to prepare your remarks in accordance with the course objectives.
  • For Canvas Discussion Thread assignments you are required to post by the deadline and reply to 2 peer posts by the next scheduled class section.
  • In addition, each student will be assigned to complete the practice exercises for a scheduled grammar tutorial before the next class session.

Canvas Discussion Threads and Flipgrid Responses are collectively worth 15% of your grade


Writing Practice:

Chapter assignments provide you the opportunity to practice skills and apply techniques related to chapter content. Some descriptions are purposefully ambiguous to require thoughtful strategies of developing both form and content. Many of these tasks will be drafted components that you will revise for formal assessment in a portfolio, so these submissions should be approached formally and with consideration of organizational method and format structure (model examples in the book). Your work should be uploaded to Canvas as a .doc or .pdf for easier peer review in class and/or instructor feedback. Missing or late submissions can earn no more than 50% credit in the assessment portfolio.

Writing Practice is collectively worth 15% of your grade


Peer Review Activities:

Peer review will be the primary way for you to reinforce what you have learned and work through the revision process for formal assessment in portfolios. You learn as much from peer review as you do completing the assignment itself. Peer review should be thoughtful, constructive, and abide by the expectations of each task in terms of both form and content. You are expected to provide 3-4 line comments for each evaluative criteria (given by instructor per task in either the assignment description or course lectures), complete any rubrics assigned to the task, and to leave a priority submission comment: 1-2 things the assignment did well, and 1-2 things it must address for the revision. Peer Review Activities are collectively worth 15% of your grade



Assessment Portfolios:

You will compile formal portfolios for assessment four times throughout the term. These portfolios should showcase your work and exemplify your ability to write in a variety of professional formats. The four portfolios include and should contain revised versions of the following practice assignments:

  • Process Portfolio: #4 (p. 30), #4 (p. 93-4), #3 (p. 126)
  • Career and Design Portfolio: # 5 (p. 572, two items), #2 (260), #4 (pp. 421-2)
  • Routine Message Portfolio: #1 (p. 295), #9 (p. 332), #1 (pp. 145-6)
  • Report and Formal Message Portfolio: #6 (p. 208), #3 (p. 359), #3 (394), #7 (pp. 471-2), #4 (pp. 511-2)

Portfolios should be formatted according to the expectations of each document type and be on its own page without assignment notations (make them look official). Combine all parts into a single PDF for submission. Missing or late draft versions of these assignments can earn no more than 50% credit in the assessment portfolio. Assessment Portfolios are collectively worth 45% of your grade



Each chapter from Writing That Works (WTW) will have a scheduled reading per class period. In addition, you will have select rule pairings to read from The Truth About the New Rules. You can access Chapter Lectures (Canvas Pages) that highlight and clarify not only course content and application, but also explain/explore upcoming assignments or course components. Work through the readings and the lecture together, and don’t be afraid to revisit the lecture link. Assignments and/or discussions should be completed after the assigned reading for that day to ensure you have the proper strategy and format for the writing task.


Suggested Course of Study:

  • Read the WTW chapter and view the lecture; identify the tasks assigned and deadlines
    • Read the Truths # for that week; Post your Flipgrid facilitation if scheduled!
  • Complete discussion thread assignments
  • Revisit the readings/lecture and complete assignments
    • Reply to Rules Facilitations (no more than 2x week)
    • Reply to discussion thread assignments (reply to 2)
    • Read Grammar Tutorials (only reply if scheduled)
  • Look ahead for peer review requirements and upcoming deadlines




This schedule is subject to change. I will notify you in advance via Canvas if it does.


Important Dates to Note:

  • Jan 14, Tue: Last day to register or add a class
  • Jan 22, Wed: Last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without a W grade
  • Mar 13, Fri: Last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without a final grade
  • Mar 16, Mon- Mar 20, Fri: Spring Break


Date What to read/View Assignments to Complete by 12:00 Noon
Thursday, 1/9


Ch 1: The Writing Process pp. 3-13


Course Introduction

Check your assigned Grammar Tutorial and New Rules # Facilitation in Canvas Pages; Check Schedule for Deadline
Sunday, 1/12 Chapter 1 pp. 14-27


Chapter 1 Lecture


Wednesday is the last day to add a class

FlipGrid (FG) introductions: 1 minute introduction


#4 (p. 30)


Thursday, 1/16



Chapter 2 pp. 31-39


Chapter 2 Lecture

Truth # 3, 4, 5 & 6

Peer Review of #4 (p. 30) due


Discussion Thread: # 1 (p. 64)


FG: Truth #3+4

FG: Truth #5+6


Select items from # 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 (pp. 64-65) and create 4 total outlines (different organizations)


Sunday, 1/19



Chapter 2: Planning pp. 40-64



Tuesday is the last day to drop a class without a W


Peer Review of pp. 64-65: review outlines for effectiveness then create a 1-page document based on 2 outlines.


FG Replies Due; Discussion Thread Replies Due


Grammar Tutorial: Sentence faults




Thursday, 1/23



Chapter 3: Drafting



Chapter 3 Lecture


Truth # 11, 12, 20 & 7

# 1+2 (p. 93); intro and conclusion to 3 of the listed audiences/purposes.


FG: Truth #11+12

FG: Truth# 20+7


Grammar Tutorial: Nouns



Sunday, 1/26



Chapter 3: Drafting

pp. 79-93



#4 (p. 93-4)


FG Replies Due


Grammar Tutorial: Pronouns


Thursday, 1/30




Chapter 4: Revision

pp. 96-107


Chapter 4 Lecture


Truth # 52, 17, 28 & 43

Peer Review of #4 (pp. 93-4) due


#1 (p.122)


Discussion Thread: #2 (p. 125)


FG: Truth # 52 + 17

FG: Truth #28 + 43


Grammar Tutorial: Adjectives and Adverbs



Sunday, 2/2



Chapter 4: Revision

pp. 107-122




FG Replies Due; Discussion Thread Replies Due


#3 (p. 126)


#6 (p. 123)


Grammar Tutorial: Verbs


Thursday, 2/6



Chapter 15: Career Development

pp. 513-539


Chapter 15 Lecture




Peer Review due #3 (p. 126)


Job Ad Analysis


Grammar Tutorial: Commas


Process Portfolio Due



Sunday, 2/9



Chapter 15: Career Development

pp. 540-566



#5 (p. 572): write a resume and cover letter from Job Ad Analysis


Grammar Tutorial: Colons



Thursday, 2/13



Chapter 15: Career pp. 566-570

Chapter 7: Document Design

pp. 210-219


Chapter 7 Lecture


Truth # 36, 37, 49 & 9



Peer Review due for #5 (p. 572)


Discussion Thread: Interview Thank You


Discussion Thread #7 (259)


FG: Truth # 36 + 37

FG: Truth # 49 + 9


Grammar Tutorial: Quotation Marks



Sunday, 2/16



Chapter 7 Document Design

pp. 220-258



#2 (p. 260)


FG Replies Due; Discussion Thread Replies Due


Grammar Tutorial: Apostrophes



Thursday, 2/20



Chapter 12: Writing Instructions

pp. 395-411


Chapter 12 Lecture


Truth 14, 19, 22 & 23

Peer Review Due for #2 (p. 260)


#7 (420)


FG: Truth # 14 + 19

FG: Truth # 22+23

Grammar Tutorial: Parentheses and Brackets


Sunday, 2/23  

Chapter 12: Writing Instructions

pp. 412-419



#4 (p. 421-2)


FG Replies Due; Discussion Thread Replies Due


Grammar Tutorial: Hyphens



Thursday, 2/27



Chapter 8

email, memo, letters

pp. 265-283


Chapter 8 Lecture


Truth # 26, 27, 15 & 45



Midterm Grades Posted Tomorrow


Peer Review Due for #4 (p. 421-2)


Discussion Thread: #5 (296)


#3 (298)


FG: Truth # 26+27

FG: Truth # 15 +45


Grammar Tutorial: Capitalization


Sunday, 3/1



Chapter 8

email, memo, letters

pp. 283-295




Peer Review of #3 (298), Peer Review Is the Bad News Reply


FG Replies Due; Discussion Thread Replies Due


#1 (p. 295) Expense Allowance Email


Grammar Tutorial: Numbers


Career and Design Portfolio Due

Thursday, 3/5 Chapter 9: Routine Messages

pp. 299-322


Chapter 9 Lecture


Truth# 31, 32, 48 & 51

Peer Review due for #1 (p. 295) Expense Allowance Email


#2 (p. 330) Multiple Message Forms


FG: Truth # 31 + 32

FG: Truth # 48 + 51


Grammar Tutorial: Abbreviations



Sunday, 3/8



Chapter 9: Routine Messages

pp. 322-330




#9 (p. 332): International Customer Email


FG Replies Due


Grammar Tutorial: Exclamation Marks

Thursday, 3/12


Chapter 5: Collaborating

pp. 129-143



Chapter 5 Lecture


Peer Review Due for #9 (p. 332): International Customer Email


Grammar Tutorial: Semicolons


#1 (pp. 145-6) Collaborative Writing Team: Proposal


Grammar Tutorial: Ellipses





Thursday, 3/26


Chapter 6: Conducting Research pp. 148-171


Chapter 6 Lecture



Today is the last day to drop without a final grade


Peer Review Due for #1 (pp. 145-6)


Quiz: Plagiarism and Documentation



Grammar Tutorial: Question Marks




Sunday, 3/29


Chapter 6: Conducting Research pp. 172-206




#6 (p. 208)


Grammar Tutorial: Periods


Routine Message Portfolio Due



Thursday, 4/2


Chapter 10: Internal Reports pp. 335-345


Chapter 10 Lecture


Truth # 25, 40, 10 & 18

Peer Review Due for #6 (p. 208)


#2 (p. 356) End of Year Report


FG: Truth # 25 + 40

FG: Truth # 10 + 18


Grammar Tutorial: Italics



Sunday, 4/5


Chapter 10: Internal Reports

pp. 345-355



#3 (p. 359) SBA Report


FG Replies Due




Thursday, 4/9


Chapter 11: Formal Reports pp. 360-376


Chapter 11 Lecture


Truth # 35, 42, 41 & 46


Peer Review due for #3 (p. 359)


FG: Truth # 35 + 42

FG Truth # 41 + 46


Discussion Thread: #2 (393)


Sunday, 4/12 Chapter 11: Formal Reports pp. 377-391




#2 (p. 394) Job Related Research Report


Discussion Thread Replies Due


Thursday, 4/16


Chapter 13: Proposals

pp. 423-435


Chapter 13 Lecture


Truth # 50 + 16


Peer Review due for #2 (p. 394) Job Related Research Report


#3 (p. 472) Internal Proposal for Tuition


FG: Truth # 50+16

Sunday, 4/19 Chapter 13: Proposals

pp. 436-469



#7 (pp. 471-2): Collaborative team proposal, dean’s office


Final FG Reply Opportunity

Thursday, 4/23


Chapter 14: Presentations and Meetings pp. 474-509


Chapter 14 Lecture


Peer Review Due for #7 (pp. 471-2): Collaborative team proposal, dean’s office


#4 (pp. 511-2) Meeting Approach


*Note: peer review of #4 (pp. 511-2) due by Friday, 4/24 @ 11:59PM

Monday, 4/27


Report and Formal Message Portfolio Due to Canvas @ 12:00 Noon