The Formal Analytical Report

Overview


Complete the formal analytical report that you described in your proposal. The report must do the following:

  • define a problem,
  • analyze the criteria for a satisfactory solution,
  • propose one or more alternative solutions, and
  • argue for the solution that satisfies the criteria best.

The problem may involve an institutional, technical, or public policy issue that you are working on or have worked on in your other courses; or it may be something related to an organization to which you belong; or it may be related to a job that you’ve held or now hold; or it may be a new area that you are interested in.

The solution to the problem may involve coming up with an original design, choosing between available alternatives, or providing needed information. See this report as a place to demonstrate everything that you’ve learned so far about writing in this course.

Details


The Rhetorical Situation

For the purposes of this report, you should find a real situation in which you are writing the report to a primary reader who has the authority to reject or use your work. So the primary goal of your report is to convince this reader to adopt your recommended solution(s). The report may also have secondary audiences as well; for example, it may serve as a plan for the technical staff who will implement the solution and as an historical record of the decision-making process for future readers.

The problem situation should be real. A real situation is one that you have actually encountered: it might involve a current or former employer, a specific office or department within the University, or a service group to which you belong.

Audience and Style

Your report should be written directly to a person within your real situation who has the authority to decide whether to accept your recommendations. Your tone should be appropriate to the situation–in most cases it will be fairly formal.

Body of Report

All reports should introduce a problem, analyze criteria for a solution, evaluate several solutions against the criteria, and recommend the best solution(s).

Prefatory and Supplemental Elements

Your report should include the following:

  • a letter or memo of transmittal
  • a cover page
  • a title page
  • an executive summary
  • a table of contents
  • at least two visuals
  • references
  • appendices

Length

Your report should be as long as it needs to be, but will probably run about 8  pages (2,000 words), excluding the front and end matter. I would prefer that you keep it under 20 pages (5,000 words).

Evaluation Criteria


Content.  The report introduces a focused, significant problem, analyzes criteria for a solution, analyzes at least one solution and recommends the best course of action. The report contains all the research necessary for a persuasive argument. The analysis is logical and complete. The audience is clearly identified and appropriate.

Prefatory and Supplemental Parts. The report contains all the required prefatory and supplemental parts. Each part is well-written, appropriate to the rhetorical situation and follows the guidelines recommended in the textbook and in class.

Organization.  The entire report is clearly, obviously and effectively organized according to the rhetorical situation.

Readability and Design.  The report is highly readable, utilizing effective headings, subheadings, lists, previews, reviews and other transition elements. The report is attractively and professionally designed.

Style and Tone.  The report is well written and more formal in tone. There are very few, if any, sentence-level or grammar errors. The report uses appropriate vocabulary.  Each sentence is clear and effective. Paragraphs are short, unified and coherent.

Visuals. The report contains visuals. The visuals are appropriate in content, type and emphasis. The visuals are incorporated correctly into the text, according to the guidelines set forth in the textbook and in class.

Social Media Profile

Type: Individual

Weight: 25%

Overview


This assignment will require you to write extensively and exclusively online.  You will create websites, review and update crucial social media, interact with your peers in writing, determine your own personal and/or business “brand” and create a professional online presence with an eye to your current and future career.

This assignment is divided into two parts:

Grading


You will be issued separate grades for Part 1 and Part 2 (15% each).

 

 

Job Application Documents

http://www.flickr.com/photos/83532250@N06/7650804342/sizes/o/

Overview


Most of us obtain jobs through a multi-stage process. First you research the types of jobs you are qualified for and the types of employers you would like to work for. Then you try to convince specific employers to consider you for a job.  Your first communication with your future employer is likely to be through a resume and application letter.  These documents must persuade him or her to continue the conversation.

Details


Your resume and application letter must be adapted to reflect your specific skills for a specific position.  Find a detailed job advertisement for which you are at least mostly qualified (or will be upon graduation).  Target your resume and application letter for that position, then tell me about your choices in the cover memo.

Documents required: Cover memo, job ad, generic resume, one resume and one application letter which are targeted to the needs of the specific position and employer.

The cover memo will simply explain (list?) all the ways you adapted your resume and application letter to meet the specific needs of this job and employer.  It can be short and informal.  The cover memo and generic resume will not be graded – unless they are missing.

Resumes

The purpose of the resume is to describe your qualifications for a type of job.

Content. The goal is to argue that you are qualified for a particular type of job and that you would be a capable, responsible, and personable employee who communicates effectively.

Format. Your format may be traditional or innovative as long as it is appropriate and as long as the information is highly accessible and is organized in a way that highlights the most important items – from the employer’s perspective. Important:  Follow the formatting and content guidelines as mentioned in BCE Chapter 13.

Style. Your style should be fairly formal. You need not use complete sentences, but you should use a concise, active style and show consistency in expression from section to section.

Application Letters

The purpose of the application letter is to persuade that specific employer to grant you an interview. Just as you appreciate being treated as an individual rather than as a statistic, so does an employer.

Content and Organization.  The goal is to show the reader both that you know what that specific company needs and that you have what it takes. You may organize this section in various ways: Most business cover letters use AIDA (See BCE Chapter 14). Most application letters in engineering and science fields follow the Introduction/Education/Experience/Conclusion format.  The letter should close by inviting a response.  Important: BCE Chapter 14 provides excellent examples.

Style. Application letters are difficult to write because they aim at somewhat conflicting goals. On the one hand, you want to make a good first impression. So you want to sound polite and fairly formal. On the other hand, you want to stand out from the crowd – otherwise, why should the employer hire you rather than any of the other applicants? The best policy is probably to talk to your reader as directly and naturally as possible. Avoid hype.

Format. Use a conventional business letter format Be brief: if possible, stick to one page.

Evaluation Criteria


Adaptation and Organization.  The application letters and resumes demonstrate proficient application of genre conventions in response to different rhetorical situations.  Organizational strategies are clear, effective and appropriate.   The writer understands organizational strategies and is able to adapt them to specific job application situations.

Content.  The writer makes information choices dependent on resume and application letter conventions and audience needs.  Content focuses on skills, results, and qualifications, quantified where appropriate.

Style, Tone and Design.   The documents are correct and concise.  Tone is appropriate to the rhetorical situation but is in all ways professional, conversational and tailored to the specific audience.  Design works to make the documents attractive and accessible.

Correctness:  Employers impose strict standards of correctness on application materials.  Accordingly, I will mark this project on a somewhat stricter scale than usual.

 

Business Correspondence

Overview


In working with clients or colleagues, it’s imperative to strike the right balance in tone, arrangement and content. In some ways, short correspondence and communication (letters and emails) is the most important on-the-job writing you will do.   The correspondence portfolio is your opportunity to demonstrate effective business writing through examples of everyday business communication.

For this project you will demonstrate your ability to apply a variety of writing strategies to specific situations by writing three messages (two internal messages and one e-mail to an external contact) in response to the situations provided below. You will also include a cover memo with these documents that outlines the challenges you faced and strategies you used in completing the messages.

Because these documents are so brief and address such specific situations, student examples are not provided. However, BCE Chapters 7, 8 and 9 will provide useful models for format and tone.

Details


Follow the scenarios described below in composing your documents, but feel free to use your imagination to provide supporting details.

Scenario 1

You are the head of human resources at SimuTech, a company that produces software.

You have been assigned the unenviable task of informing employees of the company that expected holiday bonuses will not be distributed this year because of an unexpected downturn in company profits. This is the first time this has happened since the bonus program was created ten years ago.

This is a sensitive message because it will likely disappoint employees and may additionally cause them to lose confidence in the future of the company. Your challenge is to offset this initial reaction and reaffirm their commitment to SimuTech.

Scenario 2

You are still playing the role of the H.R. head at SimuTech, but this time you have been assigned to compose a memo describing a change in policy.

Last week one of SimuTech’s employees, Craig Wilson, was terminated after support personnel discovered illegally downloaded content on his computer during a systems upgrade. Wilson was a well-regarded worker of SimuTech who had just recently been commended by the company for his high achievement. However, administrators at SimuTech terminated Wilson because they feel the use of office equipment for these purposes leaves the company vulnerable to legal action.

Your challenge in composing this memo is three-fold. Employees are curious and concerned about Wilson’s dismissal, so part of the purpose of your memo is to calm fears and confusion about his termination.

Secondly, you have been instructed to remind employees that the use of office computers for personal and/or illegal purposes (such as illegally downloading copyrighted material) is against company policy and grounds for termination.

Finally, managers have decided to perform random searches on company computers to make sure this kind of activity is not taking place; you have to inform employees of these forthcoming searches and attempt to discourage negative reactions.

Scenario 3

You are a vice-president in charge of public relations for Warren Enterprises, a technical consulting firm.

You have recently been contacted via e-mail by an employee of the local Chamber of Commerce, Susan Monk, with a promotional opportunity. Ms. Monk would like Warren Enterprises to pay a one-time fee of $2,000 to have a metal sign with the company’s logo and contact information hung on the fence that encloses the local baseball stadium.

You would like to take advantage of this opportunity, but you had a previous bad experience with the Chamber of Commerce. A float Warren Enterprises paid $1,000 to sponsor in the town’s annual Patriot Days parade was poorly constructed and contained a misrepresentation of your company’s logo. Your previous attempts to receive a refund because of these circumstances have been unanswered.

In this e-mail response, your challenge is to restate your complaint about this original event to Ms. Monk and request either a refund or a reduction in the necessary contribution to sponsor a sign at the local ball field.

Evaluation Criteria


Adaptation and Organization.  The responses demonstrate an understanding and effective application of genre conventions for everyday business communication.   Organizational strategies are clear, effective and appropriate.   The writer understands organizational strategies and is able to adapt them to specific rhetorical situations.

Content.  The writer includes specific, focused requests, explanations, goodwill, and/or instructions with appropriate use of buffer or context, when needed. Evidence to support requests or claims is clear, accessible and written from the reader’s perspective.

Style, Tone and Design.   The messages are correct and concise.  Tone is appropriate to the rhetorical situation but is in all ways professional, approachable, conversational and tailored to the specific audience.  Design conventions are followed accurately.

 

 

Formal Report

Type: Group

Overview


Your team will identify and possibly partner with a small non-profit organization, for-profit business, or student group to help them solve a business challenge.  You will analyze a real business situation, research potential solutions and recommend an appropriate solution or solutions.  Working in a team, you will design, develop, and write a formal report for your “client” by the end of the semester.

The Rhetorical Situation :For the purposes of this report, you should find a situation in which you are writing the report to a primary reader who has the authority to reject or use your work. The primary goal of your report is to convince this reader to adopt your solution. Remember your report may also have secondary audiences, as well—for example, it may serve as a plan for the technical staff who will implement the solution and as an historical record of the decision-making process for future readers. Of course, your instructor will also read and evaluate your report.

The problem situation should be real. A real situation is one that you have actually encountered: it might involve a current or former employer, the university, your major department, or a service group to which you belong.

Details


Your group will produce a formal recommendation report of 12-18 pages (including supplemental material).  Your report will include all of the following parts:

  • Cover Page
  • Title Page
  • Letter or Memo of Transmittal
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Executive Summary,
  •  Introduction, Body and Conclusion (including at least two visuals)
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix.

Evaluation Criteria


Content: The report introduces a focused, significant problem, analyzes criteria for a solution, analyzes at least one solution and recommends the best course of action. The report contains all the research necessary for a persuasive argument. The analysis is logical and complete. The audience is clearly identified and appropriate.

Prefatory and Supplemental Parts: The report contains all the required prefatory and supplemental parts. Each part is well-written, appropriate to the rhetorical situation and follows the guidelines set forth in the textbook and in class.

Organization: The entire report is clearly, obviously and effectively organized according to the rhetorical situation.

Readability and Design: The report is highly readable, utilizing effective headings, subheadings, lists, previews, reviews and other transition elements. The report is attractively and professionally designed.

Style: The report is well written. There are very few, if any, sentence-level or grammar errors. The report uses appropriate vocabulary and tone. Each sentence is clear and effective. Paragraphs are short, unified and coherent.

Visuals: The report contains visuals. The visuals are appropriate in content, type and emphasis. The visuals are incorporated correctly into the text, according to the guidelines set forth in the textbook and in class.

Oral Progress Report

Overview


You and your group members  will conduct an in-class oral progress report of about 15-20 minutes.  The purpose of this assignment is to allow you to present the progress you have made toward your final report, include visuals into your presentation, to establish an outline of your final report and to solicit feedback on your final project from your fellow classmates and instructor.

Details


This is not a formal presentation.  Instead, think of it like this:  You and your team will lead part of a business meeting, where you will present the progress you have made and invite active participation from your fellow students and instructor to help you solve problems.

First and foremost, your presentation must provide evidence (proof)  that you have made substantial progress towards completing your final report.  To that end, present your actual results/findings in your presentation.   Simply telling us you have completed work is not enough.  Show us the work you’ve completed.

Here are some additional questions you may want to answer during your report.  If you do not have final answers, you may ask your fellow students for help:

  • What is your topic?  What improvements are you trying to make/suggest?  Has it changed from your original proposal?  How?  Why?
  • What will be the purpose of your final report? Do you have a title for your final report?
  • Who will be the audience for the final report?  How receptive will your audience be to the recommendations you will make in your final report? 
  • What progress have you made so far?  Mention data, interviews, surveys, etc.  Provide a detailed summary/list of the research already accomplished towards completing your final report.  You may present this in a visual (Powerpoint, table,  chart or graph), or in a handout.
  • Mention remaining tasks and your plans for completing them.
  • Mention any problems you’re experiencing.  Are you finding the information you need?  Have you fallen behind schedule – and if so, how will you get back on track?  Do you need help?
  • Mention (make a list?) of questions you may want to ask your fellow students and/or instructor during your report.

Your presentation will also include:

  • A visual or visuals.  Slide shows, websites, charts, graphs, photos and/or handouts all count.
  • A tentative outline of the final formal report. See sample in Canvas.  Plan to submit in Canvas on the day you present.

Evaluation Criteria


Progress: Evidence is presented that indicates substantial progress has been made towards completing the final report.
Content:  Presenters provide information about report topic, problem and purpose, and audience. Presenters indicate they know what needs to be completed and have a plan for doing it.  
Interaction: Presenters encourage the participation of the class in answering questions and/or solving problems.  
Visual: The report includes at least one visual (handout, Powerpoint, website, chart, graph, table, photo, etc.).
Outline:  The presenters hand in a tentative outline of the final report.  The outline is substantial and appropriate. 

 

 

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Topic-Approval Proposal

Overview


 

For this assignment you will write a formal proposal letter seeking my approval for the project that will become your formal report.  The proposal is the first document in a series of assignments culminating in that final assignment.

Your audience for this letter is me, your instructor.  Think of me as someone who wants to be sure that you choose a project from which you can learn a great deal and on which you can do a good job.  I need to be convinced that this project is important to you and that you have the ability to complete it.

Your proposal should persuade me that a significant business challenge exists in a real organization and that you should be permitted to address it.   You do not have to have the solution to the problem at this time; rather you are suggesting that the organization must invest its faith in you to research and devise a solution.

After you have convinced me of a need for your work, include a detailed description of your work plan.  Will you go to the library and research the latest techniques in your field?  Will you investigate the cost of new equipment?  Will you talk to people who have solved the problem for other organizations?  Will you research social media communication plans?  Some combination of these?  Convince me that this plan for research is the right path leading to a solution and that the time exists in this semester to do the work well.

This work plan must also be plotted with time; you must indicate what work you will be doing during each of the weeks left in the semester.  You should also have sections of your proposal detailing your qualifications to do this work.

While I am willing to consider a wide range of topics for your report, you must persuade me that you have chosen a worthwhile issue that you are capable of handling well.  In reading your proposal letter, I will be looking for answers to the following questions:

  • What business challenge will your report address?  Have you clearly defined a conflict between a desired situation and the current situation?
  • Who is affected by the situation?  Who will be the audience for your final report? What is your position in relationship to the audience?
  • Why is this challenge significant for this final audience? What is at stake?
  • Do you have a possible feasible solution for the problem?  Have you established what a good solution would require? Have you thought about alternative plausible solutions?
  • What makes you qualified to carry out the project?  How is the topic related to your major?  Your career plans?  I prefer projects that give you practice using the skills you will need in your career.
  • What will it take to gather the necessary information and complete your analysis?  Can you complete your report in the time left in this semester, using the resources readily available to you?
  • Do you have a work plan for your project, a plan that shows specifically when certain activities must be completed this semester if you are to finish the project on time?

Details


 

Craft your proposal in the form of a formal business letter to me.  Select your information and organize it in such a way that it is persuasive and accessible.  Remember, this proposal is not merely informative:  it is an argument for why your topic should be approved.  Your proposal will most likely include the following sections:

  • An introduction that tells me why you are writing.
  • A section on the business challenge, including an explicit well-developed thesis statement.  Your letter may include a separate section describing background information about the organization and/or information about the current situation before describing the problem, depending on how much information your instructor will need to fully understand the business challenge.
  • A section describing your research plans for this project.  Convince me that you know what kind of information you’ll need and where to find it. Include an analysis of your readers and what information they’ll need in order to adopt your solution.
  • A discussion of your credentials and motivation.  Convince me that you have the background and resources necessary to conduct your research.  Be sure to also indicate your motivation for and/or connection to this particular project.
  • A schedule.  Convince me that you know what activities your research will require and that you can get them done on time.
  • A conclusion that formally requests permission to proceed.

Evaluation Criteria


 

I evaluate your proposal based on the following criteria:

Persuasiveness and organization. I will be looking to see that you are taking on an actual project related to your professional and academic expertise and that you can complete the project by the end of the semester.  Make your proposal convincing; demonstrate that you have singled out a worthwhile problem to solve and that you are the researcher to solve it.

Style, clarity and arrangement.  Your proposal must be well written.  The problem statement is clear and logically stated, sentences correct, concise and arranged so that the meaning is easily obtained and the prose is streamlined and effective for a general reader.  Paragraphs are coherent, unified and relatively short (125 words or fewer).

Design and format.  Your design choices, including paragraph length, headings, subheadings, font choices, etc.,   increase document professionalism and accessibility.  Business letter format is used consistently and appropriately.