Spring 2018
Instructor: Leslie Robertson Mateer
Office Location: 211 S or 125 Burrowes
Office Hours: Wednesdays 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Thursdays, 11 a.m. – noon.
Contact Leslie

Course Description

English 202D introduces students to the conventions, genres, and strategies of business communication. In particular, it focuses on skills in critical analysis, document design, reader-centered writing, and professional discourse.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to

  • recognize and employ the conventions and genres of business communication;
  • use visual and written rhetoric to accommodate different audiences and purposes; and
  • produce accessible, persuasive, and usable documents.

Course Objectives

Students can expect to:

  • discover and understand the discourse features that distinguish their disciplinary and institutional communities from others;
  • develop a range of writing processes appropriate to various writing tasks;
  • reveal the organization of their communications by using forecasting and transitional statements, headings, and effective page design;
  • observe appropriate generic conventions and formats for letters, resumes, memoranda, and a variety of informal and formal reports;
  • design and use tables, graphs, and business illustrations; and
  • collaborate effectively with peers in a community of writers who provide feedback on each other’s work.

Required Texts

Business Communication Essentials, by Courtland L. Bovee and John V. Thill.   7th edition.  Upper Saddle River, N.J.:  Pearson Education, 2016.


You will complete 6 major writing projects for this course, participate in weekly class discussions, and complete weekly writing workshops.

Assignment Point Value
Topic-Approval Proposal 10
Business Correspondence 15
Job Application Documents 10
Progress Report 10
Formal Analytical Report 20
Social Media Profile (Parts 1 and 2) 25
Participation 10
Total 100 points

Grading Scale

Final course letter grades are assigned according to the total number of points earned. The following table equates course point totals with letter grades and with university grade point equivalents.

Point Total Grade  GPA Equivalent
94-100 A 4.0
90-93.99 A-  3.67
88-89.99 B+  3.33
83-87.99 B  3.0
80-82.99 B-  2.67
78-79.99 C+  2.33
70-77.99 C  2.0
60-69.99 D  1.0
59.99 and below F 0

The grades of A, B, C, D, and F indicate the following qualities of academic performance:

A = (Excellent/Superior) Indicates exceptional achievement
B = (Good/Very Good) Indicates extensive achievement
C = (Satisfactory) Indicates acceptable achievement
D = (Poor) Indicates only minimal achievement
F = (Failure) Indicates inadequate achievement necessitating a repetition of the course in order to secure credit.

Note on Grades: English 202D is a rigorous course.  Fulfilling the requirements of an assignment will be considered acceptable or extensive (good or very good) achievement.  “A” quality scores will only be applied in cases of exceptional achievement – demonstration of sophisticated understanding and finesse.

Major Assignments

This course will hold you to the professional standards of business communication. Each of your formal writing projects is expected to look professional and polished. At work, even a single error in spelling, grammar, or proofreading can jeopardize the effectiveness of some communications (depending on the rhetorical situation). Whether it is a resume, memo, or report, your communication should exhibit complete and appropriate format. Grading will reflect the seriousness with which these matters are frequently viewed in the working world. You must hand in all major projects to pass the course.

There are six major projects:

The Topic-Approval Proposal

For this assignment you are to write a formal request letter seeking my approval for your chosen topic and permission to proceed with the research necessary to complete the final assignment–your formal analytical report. The topic-approval proposal is the first document in a sequence leading up to the final assignment. This sequence includes the topic-approval proposal (Project 1), the progress report (Project 3), and the formal analytical report (Project 5).

Business Correspondence

For this project you will demonstrate your ability to apply a variety of writing strategies to specific situations by writing responses to the situations provided. You will also include a cover memo with these documents that outlines the challenges you faced and strategies you used in completing the project.

Job Application Documents

For this assignment you will perform a rhetorical analysis of a company and job advertisement, then compose and design a resume and application letter that are fully targeted to that specific position.  You will also submit a cover memo that describes how you have targeted your resume and application letter, a copy of the job ad and a copy of your “generic” resume.

The Progress Report

You apprise your instructor of the progress that you are making on your final project and asking for any help you might need.

The Formal Analytical Report

Complete the formal analytical report that you described in your topic-approval proposal letter. 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 Social Media Profile

This assignment contains 2 parts; the Professional Reading Blog and the Profile Website.  The articles (or blog entries) will be written and designed according to the guidelines for the online writing and effective visual rhetoric.  The profile website will illustrate your personal professional brand.

Class Policies

Here are some policies that will govern how we approach our class.


All projects are due at the beginning of class on the dates indicated on the syllabus. Assignments turned in late will be penalized one grade level (say, from B to B-) for each day late, beginning immediately after the time due,  unless you have made other arrangements with me in advance.

Promptness applies to class attendance too.  If you come in late be sure to notify me after class, since I often take attendance at the beginning and you were probably marked “absent.”

Grammar, Spelling, Proofreading

Though we may cover some particularly troublesome grammar issues in class, your work should be grammatically correct from the beginning.  If this presents a problem for you, let me know.  I can point you to a number of resources, including Undergraduate Writing Center and Intensive English Services.


For this course, you may choose your favorite documentation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) and you will be expected to use it correctly and consistently.


Plan to revise your work before you turn it in, probably multiple times. Feel free to ask me or others for feedback on your writing.  Try to apply the comments to improve not only the particular assignment you are working on at the time but also your strategies for writing in general.

Draft Workshops/Peer Reviews

Be sure to be prepared for in-class draft workshops and peer reviews.  The more prepared you are for the workshops, the more you will benefit from them.  For our peer reviews, you will make high quality, truly helpful comments on your classmates’ work and consider their comments in revising your own work.  If you must miss a peer review, take your draft to Penn State Learning | Writing.   The tutors there will inform me of your session.

Important: I am unable to accept a “final” assignment unless I’ve seen your rough draft.


Office hours are drop-in or you can email me for an appointment.  You can also email me with any questions.

Draft Feedback is In-Person Only:  I am unable to give feedback on your rough drafts via email (unless the circumstances are extraordinary). You can also take your writing to with Penn State Learning | Writing.  Trained tutors are available to help.  This service is free.


Attendance Policy University policy (Policies and Rules, 42-27) states that a student whose absences are excessive “may run the risk of receiving a lower grade or a failing grade,” regardless of his or her performance in the class.

For this class, you will receive a score (Participation, 10%) for your attendance.  For a Tues/Thurs class, you can take up to 2 absences over the course of the semester with no penalty, grade-wise.   If you miss more than two classes, your participation score will be affected.  For this reason, this class does not issue  “excused” absences.  Plan any necessary absences accordingly.

Attendance will be taken at the beginning of every class period.  If you arrive after attendance has been taken, it is your responsibility to inform me after class.

Perfect attendance receives extra credit.

Important: Please let me know in advance if you find yourself in an extreme situation or emergency.   I can usually work with you if I’m kept informed.

Required Syllabus Policies

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.

Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Accessibility: Disability Accommodation

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website at

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Education Equity: Bias Reporting

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395,

Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Standards of Classroom Behavior

Classroom behavior should always reflect the essential Penn State values of civility, integrity, and respect for the dignity and rights of others. As such, the classroom space should be safe, orderly, and positive—free from disruptions, disorderly conduct, and harassment as defined in the University Code of Conduct ( The University Code of Conduct defines disruption “as an action or combination of actions by one or more individuals that unreasonably interferes with, hinders, obstructs, or prevents the operation of the University or infringes on the rights of others to freely participate in its programs and services;” disorderly conduct includes but is not limited to “creating unreasonable noise; pushing and shoving; creating a physically hazardous or physically offensive condition;” and harassment may include “directing physical or verbal conduct at an individual…; subjecting a person or group of persons to unwanted physical contact or threat of such; or engaging in a course of conduct, including following the person without proper authority (e.g., stalking), under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or to suffer emotional distress” (Section IV, B). The course instructor has the authority to request that any disruptive students leave the class for the class period. If disruptive behavior continues in subsequent class periods, a complaint may be filed with the Office of Student Conduct, which may result in the student being dismissed from class until University procedures have been completed. Any student with concerns or questions as to this policy should contact the Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.




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