Professional Writing

ENGL 353 (W1)—Writing for the Professions (CRN 2013)

Course Description and Policies, May Term 2015


Professor: Trevor L. Hoag, Ph.D. 




Office: McMurran Hall (MCM), #213

Office Hours: MTWRF: 12:30 – 1:00, 4:15 – 4:45

Course Websites:

Class Time: MTWRF: 1:00 – 4:15 

Meeting Place: McMurran Hall (MCM), #207


Course Materials (Selections Provided From):

Creswell, John. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. London: SAGE Publications, 2012. Print. 

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication. Boston-New York: Bedford-St. Martins, 2010. Print.


Catalogue Description

The principles and practice of writing for readers with business and professional backgrounds. Includes the preparation of memoranda, letters, proposals, abstracts, reports, resumes, supporting documentation, tables, graphs, and figures. Requires the adaptation of written material for oral presentation and the preparation, research, and writing of a community-based report. Valuable to majors in business, governmental administration, the sciences, and to humanities- subject majors who may work as writers and editors. Partially satisfies the Writing Intensive requirement.


Coursework and Grading: 

LRO Observations (x2 per class meeting) – 5%

Business Cards – 5%

Professional Website Shell – 5%

(Includes: Professional photo and Site images, Biography, Contact Info., Tabs for Materials and Optional Social Media)

“Delete”/Web-Presence Activity – 5%

Resume/Curriculum VITA – 10%

Web Cover Letter – 10%

LinkedIn Profile – 5%

“Elevator” Speech (Video) – 5%

Qualitative Research Proposal (Letter/Memo) – 5%

Qualitative Research Report with Data Visualization(s) – 15%

Research Report/Career-Based Infographic(s) – 10%

Live Elevator Speech + Report Presentation = Job Talk – 10%

Final Website with All Materials – 10%

(Includes: professional photo, site images, biography, contact info., LinkedIn, “Elevator” Speech, Resume/VITA, Cover Letter for the web, Research Report and other relevant Writing Samples, Infographic, and any Professional Social Media Profiles (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

Extra Credit – 5%

(Student may research one of the following elements of design: typography, grid-based design, color theory, design theory, or usability—then write one double-spaced page that they discuss with class)

(Or: student may “turn out” his/her professional social media website(s) but they MUST BE populated with a significant number of posts—a difficult task in only three weeks!)

Note: Nearly all course materials will be uploaded to the Web. Keep this in mind when selecting writing formats and platforms (e.g., .doc versus pdf., Movie Maker versus Youtube).


Major Assignments:

The “launching pad”/editing space for the above assignments is a wiki system (PBworks) that allows other students as well as the professor to view/edit student work in process.All of the major assignments in this course involve producing professional materials that will aide students in, for example, getting into graduate school, landing an internship, starting a career, etc.

Students will build a website that houses most of the materials they produce, including: a LinkedIn profile, “elevator” speech, resume/VITA, cover letter generalized for the web, writing sample(s), infographic(s), professional social media, and more. The major writing project for the course is a seven-page report that introduces students to the basics of conducting qualitative research (e.g., through ethnographic and phenomenological/theoretical observation, collection of survey or case study data, etc.), in order to construct a professional proposal in narrative form.


Letter Grades:

A:        100 — 93%                  B-:       82 — 80%                    D+: 69 — 67%

A-:       92 — 90%                    C+:      79 — 77%                    D: 66 — 63%

B+:      89 — 87%                    C:        76 — 73%                    D-: 62 — 60%

B:        86 — 83%                    C-:       72 — 70%                    F: 59% and below


Important Course Statements

Assignments: Each assignment is due for digital posting at the beginning of class. If you cannot meet a due-date, please contact me in advance to make accommodations. Note that most assignments require a completed peer review and will not receive full credit without one.

Attendance: Attendance is absolutely required for this course. Moreover, if you are not in class you will likely find the professional materials more difficult to produce. Also, attendance and participation are considered when figuring grade “bumps” at the end of the course.

Disabilities: In order for a student to receive an accommodation for a disability, that disability must be on record in the Dean of Students’ Office, 3rd Floor, David Student Union (DSU). If you believe that you have a disability, please contact Dr. Kevin Hughes, Dean of Students (594-7160) to discuss your needs. Dean Hughes will provide you with the necessary documentation to give to your professors.

Students with documented disabilities are required to notify the instructor no later than the first day on which they require an accommodation (the first day of class is recommended), in private, if accommodation is needed. The instructor will provide students with disabilities with all reasonable accommodations, but students are not exempted from fulfilling the normal requirements of the course. Work completed before the student notifies the instructor of his/her disability may be counted toward the final grade at the sole discretion of the instructor.

Success: I want you to succeed in this course and at CNU. I encourage you to come see me during office hours or to schedule an appointment to discuss course content or to answer questions you have. If I become concerned about your course performance, attendance, engagement, or well-being, I will speak with you first. I also may submit a referral through our Captains Care Program. The referral will be received by the Center for Academic Success as well as other departments when appropriate (Counseling Services, Office of Student Engagement). If you are an athlete, the Athletic Academic Support Coordinator will be notified. Someone will contact you to help determine what will help you succeed. Please remember that this is a means for me to support you and help foster your success at CNU.

Academic Support: The Center for Academic Success offers free tutoring assistance for CNU students in several academic areas. Staff in the center offer individual assistance and/or workshops on various study strategies to help you perform your best in your courses. The center also houses the Alice F. Randall Writing Center. Writing consultants can help you at any stage of the writing process, from invention, to development of ideas, to polishing a final draft. The Center is not a proofreading service, but consultants can help you to recognize and find grammar and punctuation errors in your work as well as provide assistance with global tasks. Go as early in the writing process as you can, and go often!

You may drop by the Center for Academic Success to request a tutor, meet with a writing consultant, pick up a schedule of workshops, or make an appointment to talk one-on-one with a University Fellow for Student Success. The Center is located in the Trible Library, second floor, room 240.


CNU’s Center for Career Planning:

Main Website:

CCP Job Search:

CCP Internships:

CCP Graduate School:

CNU Career Connect:



ENGL 353–Course Schedule*



Syllabus and Introductions
    Set up PBWorks Wiki/Profiles/Begin Observations

Designing/Ordering Business Cards (Due by Final Class Day)

Importance of Communication in Technical Careers:

Writing in the 21st-Century:

Homework: Read your section of Creswell Chapter #4

* = Recommended Media Platforms



Approaches to Qualitative Research

Discussion: Creswell, Chapter #4, Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design

    Platforms: Google Forms*, Client Heartbeat, Typeform, Survey Monkey*

How to write good survey/interview questions:

Writing a Qualitative Research Report with Opening Memo/Letter

“Did you get the memo?”:



Building a Professional Website/Blog/Social Media
    Platforms: WordPress*, Blogger, tumblr., Medium, Svbtle, // Wix*, Weebly, Yola, Google Sites, Jux, Altervista, Webs

Platforms: Facebook, Twitter*, Yik Yak, Pinterest, Google+, tumblr., Instagram*, VK, Flickr, Vine

In-Class Website/Blog/Social Media Workshop



Lecture: Mayer-Schoenberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in a Digital Age .ppt

Juan Inriquez, “Your Online Life, As Permanent as a Tattoo”

“Delete”/Web-Presence Activity – Due In Class

Brand Yourself:




Resumes/Curriculum VITAs and Cover Letters

CNU’s Resume Writing Guide:

    CCP Handouts

In-Class Resume/VITAs and Cover Letters Workshop

Class Librarian Visit to Discuss Qualitative Research



Peer Review of Materials in MCM 207 — Use the Rubrics!

Professor Conferences in MCM 213 — Sign up for a Time on the Wiki!

x10 Observations Due

Qualitative Research Study Proposal Memo/Letter, Evidence of Data Collection Due

Professional Website Shell Due

Resume/VITA and Cover Letter Due



Building a LinkedIn Profile:

Tips for Students  (Video):

CCP LinkedIn Slides .ppt

CNU’s School Profile:

How to Give an “Elevator” Speech

Good Bad Speech Examples:

“How to Perfect the Elevator Pitch”:

    In-Class LinkedIn Workshop

Record Elevator Speeches on Video à Dress in Professional Attire!

Platforms: Animoto*, Slideshare,*, PowToon, Prezi (still slides w/ music)



Lecture: “Writing Effective Sentences” .ppt

Qualitative Research Study Data Due

Analyzing Data with Digital Media

Platforms: Lexipedia, Wordsift/Wordle, (Rap) Genius, Voyeur, Word-Cloud Generator, Wolfram-Alpha, Prism, Freemind, Coggle, Wordseer

How to Outline the Sections of a Research Study

    In-Class Research Data-Analysis/Abstracts/Introductions Workshop


Making Data Visualizations
    Platforms: Google Charts*, Zingchart, Voyeur*, Wordle, Many Eyes, Storify, Dipity, Tiki-Toki, Timeline JS*, Simile Maps, Instant Atlas, Polymaps, Open Layers, Kartograph, CartoDB, Mapbox*

In-Class Data Visualizations Workshop



Designing an Infographic & Designing a Presentation

Slide Design Tips:

    Platforms:,, piktochart*, smore// Animoto,, Slideshare, Prezi*, PowToon, Viewshare (Photoshop, if you’re an expert)

In-Class Infographic/Presentation Workshop



Memorial Day: NO CLASS MEETING         
    How to Ace an Interview:

Txting is Killing Language. JK!!!



Peer Review of Materials in MCM 207 — Use the Rubrics!

Professor Conferences in MCM 213 — Sign up for a Time on the Wiki!

    x20 Observations Due

LinkedIn Profile Due

Elevator Speech Video Due

Qualitative Research Report with Data Visualization Due



Live Elevator Speech + Report Presentation = Job Talk
    Job Talks (Group #1)

Sign up for a Day/Time on the Wiki!

Infographics for both Group #1/#2 Due



Last Day of Class
    Job Talks (Group #2)

Sign up for a Day/Time on the Wiki!



Final Exam Day
    x25 Observations Due

Final Website with All Materials Due

(Includes: Photo(s), Bio, Contact Info., LinkedIn, “Elevator” Speech, Resume/VITA, Cover Letter, Research Report and other relevant Writing Samples, Infographic, and any Professional Social Media Profiles, e.g., Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

Post Research on Peninsula:

*The professor reserves the right to revise any portion of this syllabus throughout the term.

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