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The bulk of your grade in this course will be determined by your performance on four major assignments. I will add PDF copies of the full assignment descriptions as we discuss them in class.

Unit 1: Business Correspondence

Businesses and organizations continually strive to satisfy their customers. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they fall short. In both situations, companies rely on customer feedback to know what they are doing well and what they need to change. In this assignment, you will contact two companies or organizations by letter to share your positive and negative experiences. Then you will assume the role of a customer satisfaction specialist and respond to a negative letter similar to the one you wrote.

Download the full assignment sheet. (PDF)

Download the scenarios for Part 3 of this assignment. (PDF)

Unit 2: Instructions

Instructions are the quintessential genre of technical communication. Not a day goes by that we don’t encounter some type of formal instructions, whether in a user manual that came with a technical device, on a help screen in a software program, or on a debit card reader at the grocery store. In recent years, instructions have become increasingly visual, spurred on by the ubiquity of computers and the internet in modern America. Today, instructions on almost any topic can be found online. For this assignment, you will create a step-by-step guide to help other people accomplish a specific task, then post your instructions on the internet and interact with the people who have read and/or used your instructions.

Download the full assignment sheet. (PDF)

Unit 3: Collaborative Project

All organizations are constantly changing, and rhetoric is a powerful tool for managing change. For this assignment, your team will work with (or for) a real organization in need of change. Your major task is to identify an unresolved problem that is negatively affecting the organization or an unrealized opportunity that you believe would greatly benefit the organization. This problem or opportunity might be related to technology, communication, business/workflow processes, security, or any other number of topics. Although you may want to choose your current workplace as your project site, you could also offer your services to an academic department on campus, a friend’s workplace, or a non-profit organization in the community. However, the most important stipulation for this assignment is that the situation must be real, not hypothetical.

Download the full assignment sheet. (PDF)

View the MOU template for this assignment.

Unit 4: Oral Presentation

In many professional settings, a digital slide presentation (a.k.a., PowerPoint) has become the default method for sharing ideas, reporting research, and proposing new projects. In some technical workplaces, PowerPoint files have entirely replaced written proposals and reports. Whether you think this shift is good or bad (full disclosure: I think it’s bad), PowerPoint and its software cousins aren’t going away any time soon. Rather than simply bemoan the dominance of PowerPoint or complain about sitting through terrible presentations, skilled professional communicators will find ways to accomplish their rhetorical goals using the software in sophisticated and innovative ways. This assignment is designed to help you do just that.

Download the full assignment sheet. (PDF)