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A Book for Business Writing Vera Du


Table of Content Introdction--------------------------------------------------------------------3 Chapter 1: Literature Review-----------------------------------------------5 Chapter 2: Genre Investigation--------------------------- ----------------13 Chapter 3: Interview Report-----------------------------------------------22 Chapter 4: Proposing Change---------------------------------------------26 Chapter 5: Conclusion------------------------------------------------------30 Reference---------------------------------------------------------------------32 Appendix----------------------------------------------------------------------34


Introduction Dear Readers, I am a freshman business student in University of Denver. My name is Vera Du, and I would love to present this book to you with researches I have done in writings of my major, which is business. As students who just started our college life, I bet you have had the same confusion just as I am concerning what the major we chose is actually about and what we are going to do in the following years. If you have ever had that feeling, and if you happened to be a business major student, I believe my work would save you from a lot of troubles. The first chapter of this book is a literature review, through which you can get to know what other researchers have done in business writing. In this chapter, I talked about existing materials in an order of functions and purposes those papers are served for; there are a lot of papers talking about how to improve business writing, but those papers are either too generalized that can only make students meet professor’s expectations or getting to deep that only talked about methods for the kinds of research paper goes for publication. As a result, I identified the gap that new discussion should be add on to the academic world to help 3

business students make improvements to their daily writing assignments. The second part of my research is genre investigation. Getting a sense of how different genre functions can help students to prepare for the following years of course works. The genres I talked about including both school genres (syllabus, case analysis and reflection paper) and professional genres (presentation and resume). In the field of business, students do not have to follow certain formats for each genres of writings, but there are still some skills you can found in writing different genres of papers by identifying the purposes certain genres are served for. I hope my readers can all get that skill after reading this chapter. My third chapter is an interview reports. During my research I interviewed two business seniors, Amber and Luo, about their experiences of business writing. The two interviews were conducted separately, but a lot of similar take-aways, suggestions and complaints were brought out by my two interviewees, and I found those similar parts especially useful because they are applicable for almost all business major, so I demonstrated on those similar opinions and I hope my first year peers can benefit from that to avoid struggles and confusions in the future. The last main chapter of this book is a proposal for change in business writing. During the process of my interview research, I found a commonly existing problems in University of Denver: some business professors judge students’ writing by their personal preferences, and those preferences may cause unfair results in student’s grades. Concerning this situation, I analyzed the harms of this problem in detail, and then proposed a solution for the problem for the University can add a new section on its website concerning grading. In my detailed analysis, you will see how this solution can benefit both the student group and the professor


group. Well, after getting a basic idea of what this book is about, I hope you are now expecting the following content of this book; if not, then you are going to miss something really valuable to you; if so, then let us start the journey!

Chapter 1: Literature Review As college freshmen who just entered a new educational system, there are a lot of fresh expectations and challenges we need to face and accept, and most rules from high school writing are not applicable anymore—like the “five paragraph essay” skill. With all those overwhelming instructions and suggestions on how to write a college-level paper, it is necessary for us to look back at the existing resources talking about how to write in our major, which is business in my case, and come up with concise and useful conclusion to help students work better. In order to present existing research findings around business writing in the best way, a great amount of academic resources were compared and filtered. In this literature review, materials included can be split into two categories, the first one is for systematic collections of different types of business paper’s writing skills and the other one is for research papers focusing on specific problems in business writing. In terms of papers that talk generally about how to write in business, most researchers


choose to spend the main body of their paper concisely summarizing and analyzing general requirements for business writing.(e.g. Zhu, Dorn, Thomas) Obviously, the biggest obstacle that can impede college students, especially freshmen, from getting a satisfying grade in writing is lacking of comprehension in the assignments; student’s essays sometimes cannot meet the instructor’s expectations because they do not know what their instructors are looking for. Concerning this problem, guidelines that are built from the instructor’s perspective will be a lot more helpful to students comparing to the long, generalized and confusing coursework descriptions in syllabus. In the paper “Writing in business courses: an analysis of assignment types, their characteristics, and required skills”, Wei Zhu, an Assistant Professor in the Linguistics Program at the University of South Florida, categorized college writing assignments and analyzed “disciplinary”(1) skills to build strong business papers from the instructor’s perspective. This paper follows the traditional IMRAD structure (consisting of Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion), along with abstract, acknowledgement and reference pages. For the “Result” part that take 11 out of the 25 pages, Zhu give readers an overview of what certain types of business writings should be like. An example can be taken like this: 3.3. Reflection/reaction paper This type of assignment asked students to reflect on an issue or topic, to make connections between topics covered in the course and issues in the real-world, or to apply business concepts and theories to the explanation of a specific business phenomenon.This type of assignment could be completed based on information gleaned through course readings, news items, or some participatory experience (e.g. students might be asked to interview business people and discuss, based on the interview, how certain issues covered in the course were handled in the business world). As we can see, in the section for reflection paper assignment, Zhu used a few sentences


to introduce the mission of this kind of writing to students at first, and then provides readers further information about proper elements that should be collected for the reflection paper, and she also provides examples of how should students gather those information. Zhu’s paper included similar form of summaries for most of the assignment types that may be covered for business major, and this paper can be effectively used as a manual for business scholars to look over and make sure they are on the right track when writing a specific assignment. But with all those benefits that can be found in Zhu’s paper, we should also keep in mind that most students’ goal is not “pass” their courses or homework, but mastering them. To aim at that target, what Zhu’s paper offered is not enough at all, and students need to improve their writing skills and be able to polish their papers to make the writing exceed the professor’s expectation. As a result, the article “Improved Student Writing in Business Communication Classes: Strategies for Teaching and Evaluation” is brought up. This essay is wrote by Robert H. Stowers& Randolph T. Baker, and both authors of this paper are business professors: Robert H. Stowers is from The College of William & Mary and Randolph T. Baker is from Virginia Commonwealth University. This article’s purpose is “to give guidance to instructors to motivate their students to produce better written products.”(1), and the authors also present “ideas on how to improve student writing through some creative teaching and evaluation strategies.”(1) in this paper. Contrast to Zhu’s paper, Stowers and Baker did not categorized assignments, but directly concluded Six Strategies for writing skills that can be applied to all writing tasks. The six strategies include “Goals”, “Invest time early”, “Make Assignment Expectations Clear”,


“Establish Connections”, “Tailor to Audience” and “Evaluation”. Basicly, in this essay the professors talked about how to improve business writing from six aspects that students are normally doing inadequately, and the conclusion “are based on both the current literature and [the authors’] experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels”(10) instead of just drawing on existing research works and online data. In this way, the Six Strategies are more credible and focusing on commonly existing problems. But after reading the Six Stategies, I found that the authors in this article is trying to focusing on helping students build stronger writing skills by improving the quality of courses, which is related to both the students and the instructor, and even more on the instructor side. Besides. Even though this article is wrote for improving student’s writing, it only talked about some most important thing we should pay attention to, but not practical writing techniques that can be easily applized to students’ paper. The audience group, which is the college business students in this case, is in demand of specific tips in polishing their writing. Concerning this need, there is a biggest obstacle that stopped most students from improving their paper: they do not know how to evaluate their paper. As college scholars, making mistakes and having problems in our paper are inevitable and not bad at all; the worst thing happens only if we cannot identify what is wrong or what should be corrected or improved in our paper. In other words, students should be developed a skill of examing their paper’s effectiveness, and this skill is even more important to business students because professors in this major will not spend time helping you rearrange your paper but more focusing on student’s ideas; even if there is problems with business student’s writing, professors would only mention it with a few vague words on the comment like “poor


organization”, while those problems actually influence student’s grade in a great level. As what Rebecca Moore Howard states: “writers who can assess their own prose can successfully revise that prose” (36), so it is crucial for business students to learn the skills of evaluate their paper. Concerning paper evaluation, one of the most obvious barriar business students, and other academic writers encounter is that their paper is not readable for their target audience; the writing may be built in a fancy way with high-level words and professional terminologies, but that kind of papers make readers feel exhausted and cannot complete the reading, so the first thing I want to focus on in the evaluation process is to look up some methods to check our writing’s readability. In the article “Measuring the Readability of Business Writing: The Cloze Procedure versus Readability Formulas”, wrote by Kevin T. Stevens, Kathleen C. Stevens and William P. Stevens. The authors talked specificlly about readability-checking by examining two different method’s effectiveness. The two methods discussed in this paper are The Cloze Procedure and Readability Formulas. The Cloze Procedure method test article’s readability by examine the target audience’s response. This method “is widely considered to be the accepted method of assessing the readability of college level material.”(1), and is “particularly useful for business writers who have access to specific populations of readers on whom the procedure can be performed.”(1) In contrast, Readability Formulas assess article’s readability by “examining word difficulty and sentence length” (1) with software. After detailed analyzing process of the three authors, the Cloze Procedure win and become the best choice for business students in checking the readability of their writing. Furthermore, even this paper’s main purpose is to


pick up a best method, through the comparing process, readers are envisioned of how possible they may examine the readability of their essays and make their readers feel more ease when reading their works. For business student, another skill they need to handle in evaluating their paper is to make sure their paper has strengthened usability. For business is a field where scholars do not only focusing on researching knowledge, but trying their best to apply their ideas and theories into people’s daily life. In order to achieve that goal, the article “New Options for Usability Testing Projects in Business Communication Courses” can be an excellent reference. This article is wrote by Daphne A. Jameson, a professor from Cornell University, who introduced a new way to check the usability in business writing. Jameson’s purpose in this paper is to show business students how to check their writing’s effectiveness with the new technical method—usability testing. Usability testing “is a method of discovering whether people can navigate, read, and understand a print or electronic communication well enough to achieve a particular purpose in a reasonable time frame”(3), and Jameson detailed what the new method is and how business scholars can take advantages of it through her paper. Basically, usability testing is a useful method that can help business students and researchers building effective project materials, collecting data and arranging logistics by running certain software. Except for the useful skills Jameson provided to us, there is another interesting thing that can be noted from her paper: she also compared her work with the “Readability-checking methods” paper we have talked before. She writes “Usability is a broader concept than readability, which measures the difficulty level of written texts (Stevens, Stevens, & Stevens, 1992).”(4), and then she demonstrated how the new method she provided is differentiate from the


Stevens’ one. Jameson indicated that unlike readability, the concept of usability “goes beyond the sentence level to consider structure, layout, linking, and other design factors that may make a print or electronic document difficult to understand.”(5) In other world, Jameson believe that usability-testing is a lot more important than the readability-testing in business writing. From my perspective, it might have a little bit problem with these papers talking about how to evaluate business papers, because these professional methods are be more possible to be taken in action when students need to get their business paper published—it is hard for college students to make a survey for their writing, or run a complicated software to examine their paper’s effectiveness every time because most of their writing assignments are pretty short and only goes to their professors. But on the other hand, these methods are still inspiring, for we can get some ideas of what we should look for when checking our homework, and even make some changes of our writing process. For example, every time when finishing a business paper, we can let a non-business major friend to look over it and point out places that confuse him/her, thus we can check our paper’s readability in a simple way. Similar inspiration can also be found in Hildebrandt and Snyder’s paper, in which the two authors examined that positive words are used more often in business writing for the writing’s effectiveness. As a result, we can note from this paper that our writing should avoid using negative words if possible. Taken together, we can see that, during their research on existing materials talking about academic business writing that we discussed, resources can be categorized into two groups: one that talked generally about how to make business papers to be one the right track, and the


other group talking about problems existing on high-level research papers and how to improve their qualities. Obviously, there is a gap that researchers should fill in: there is not enough article that talked about how to help business college students to improve their writing, and researches should be done on issues that stop business student’s writing assignments, not necessarily be big research papers, but routinely works like case analysis and reflection papers, from getting a wonderful grade and going beyond professor’s expectations. Experienced professors can not only contribute to the improvements of their colleagues to build better courses (e.g. Stowers&Baker), but also come up with useful strategies for students in need to make improvement in their writings.


Chapter 2: Genre Investigation Introduction Continue with the first chapter, where we discussed about other’s researches, works and thoughts in business writing, in this chapter, let us reflect on our own experience when it comes to writing: why our instructors ask us to do certain types of writing? What kinds of paper should we write when we have certain purpose? To answer these questions, we are going to navigate among some important genres that are frequently used in business field in this chapter. I hope after reading this chapter, my audience can get deep comprehension in genre theory, be able to know why we should focus on genres of writing, how genres functioning, and also think about how we can make use of different genres effectively to improve our writing. The Genre Theory Before I talk about the specific genres, I assumed that some background information for the genre theory should be introduced first. The genre theory was brought up by the 13

rhetorician Lloyd Bitzer in his article The Rhetorical Situation. He stated: “From day to day, year to year, comparable situations occur, prompting comparable responses; hence rhetorical forms are born and a special vocabulary, grammar, and styles are established.” (13) In other words, there are specific responses repeatedly raised by recurred situations, and that certain responses in writing is genre. For example, for all the letters, no matter who is the writer or who is the receiver, similar characteristics can be found, for instance, the intention letters is to get response and respond to others, so the writer would be really subjective and use a lot of “I”, along with questions like “How about you?”. From what I stated above, we can see when we refer to genres of writing, we are essentially talking about particular types of writing based on certain contexts, and the existing similarity or “rules” that we should obey, and also what the space remained for us to play with in different genres of writings. Remind of the Purpose for Business Writing Before I investigate into some representative genres in business writing, I want to demonstrate on the purpose for business paper. In general, students write business papers to prepare their future career when entering into real business industry, where we should write things for our clients. So even in college, business students’ writings are oriented to problemsolving with mocked scenarios, and in these cases, business writings are more valued for ideas but not grammars or formats. In almost every genre in business major, expressing ideas is the primary objective. School Genres: Syllabus, Case analysis and Reflection paper The first genre I want to talk about is a classroom genre: syllabus. The genre of syllabus


is created because it is necessary for students to have basic informations of course works at the beginning of entering a new class, and syllabus also work as a contract between students and the professor with professor’s specific requirements to students. As a result, syllabus has to be well-organized with all the information fairly categorized in most classes. For business major, although most professors choose to build syllabus with detailed information for students to refer to, some professors would like to make a more casual syllabus that only covered the most important information students need to get the idea of what the class is about. Let us take a look at two syllabi for my economic courses: one for macroeconomics studies (referred as ECON1020) instructed by professor Daniels Zuchegno and the other one for microeconomics studies (referred as ECON1030) instructed by Mark Evers: (See Appendix) Both of the syllabi include the professor and TA’s basic information, a concise course description, textbook information, requirement clarification, outline and some other notes based on the professor’s interests (Ex. Whether the professor accept late work). However, Zuchegno’s syllabus has a 7 pages length, with detailed information including the University’s Honor Code, Email Etiquette, and very detailed requirements and outline. In contrast, Evers’ syllabus only have 3 pages with core information, and the outline only include the chapters we are going to cover, without even the exact date we are going to have exams. One syllabus is no better than the other; they are both qualified enough for college study and clearly make sense to student about what the course will be like and what they are expected to do. Evers’ syllabus might be not detailed enough, but he is the kind of professors who prefer to make more detailed plan as the course goes. What I want to clarify here is that


from the syllabus of business course, some “rules” in business writing genres are shown: as long as you fulfilled the purpose for the writing, you are allowed to have your style and don’t have to follow certain formats or disciplines exactly. Another characteristics of syllabus genres is that the language-using should be objective. Syllabus is wrote for public, which means that the professor cannot make personal assumptions that what he knows is also known by his readers. In other words, the author have to make the article make sense to everybody. And the necessity of objectiveness also apply to most other business writings because the audience may normally not have the professional knowledge of business field. After discussing the syllabus genre, let us go further in student-produced genres with another example: case analysis. Case analysis is a common assignment for almost all business majors. Real business workers may not usually write this genre of paper, but directly give solutions in their plans and presentations opened with brief analysis of current condition of the certain business case. The purpose of assigning case analysis to college student is to practice their thinking skills for problem solving step by step, and prepare them for future works. For case analysis, the primary objective is to split different elements of the specific case apart, and then trying to find the reason that caused problems, or things the company can approve. Case analysis “required students to apply business concepts, theory, and knowledge to the analysis of business problems and business decision-making processes.” (Zhu, 10) In other words, writing case analysis is a process for students to find concrete, detailed solutions and advices for the company. Students do not necessarily have to include outside resources but are encouraged to use them to aid their analysis. As I mentioned before, student have the


freedom to organize and present the paper in their style, and use relatively casual word, but they have to provide enough background information for the audience and include some basic elements for case analysis, and there are five elements that are normally expected to present in case analysis (Zhu, 10): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

An analysis of the current situation An identification/summary of key issues or problems An analysis and evaluation of alternative approaches to solving the problems A discussion of specific recommendations for solving the problems A justification/support for proposed solutions

With the list above, we can see that case analysis is a genre focusing on real-world problems, but the reason why this genre is categorized in school genre is that, although professional business workers are also required to analyze cases, this analyzing process should be really brief and is summarized by a few bullet point. As a result, the purpose of case analysis genre in college is to push business students to analyze cases in detail in school so it will be less possible for them to make mistakes when they are required to analyze certain case effectively in their job. Another genre of student-produced writing in business major I want to talk about is reflection. Reflection is a typical school genre of writing, it is meant to let students improve themselves and expand their thoughts in specific problem, as a contrast to real-world writing, which focused more on the result of our thinking but not the process. In business, reflection assignment often ask students to reflect on an issue or topic, and make efforts in connecting school knowledge to real situations. Sometimes, professors would also ask students to use business theories they learned to explain a specific business phenomenon in modern business world.


Business reflection paper do not have to follow certain format, and the writing can be considered effective once the students can connect what they learned into their writing and show their comprehensive knowledge in certain points. Recourses students might use to support their reflection paper includes course readings, business news, and also experiential supports like interviews and personal stories. Reflection papers may not have much features in common, but they are all served for the same purpose: letting students gain the largest amount from certain process of thinking by strengthening that process with writing. Professional Genres: Presentation and Resume As what we mentioned before, all the business writing we are doing in college is meant to prepare us into real-world situations. So is there any writing in college that would actually also be used in our future career? Of course! And two of the most representative professional genres of business writing are presentation and resume. In business field, communication is extremely important because it is all about exchanging ideas in making and improving business decisions. Living in 21st Century, with the help of technology, business workers are able to have more options in presenting their ideas to others, and one of the most effective way to show ideas to others is using PowerPoint to make a presentation, and then present it in front of others with oral explanations. The different genres of business papers we wrote in college, proposal, business plans, reports, etc., are all have their practical meaning. But no matter how good you can write those papers, in reality, you have the limitation that your audience may not have time to read them thoroughly—businessmen are too busy to read. As a result, business workers came up with a method for all the members to effectively communication their ideas: conference. And in


conferences, in order to make your ideas concise and clearly perceived by other member, we cannot simply use boring words. From all the reason I stated above, presentation is created as an important genre served for professional business world. Through writing a PowerPoint profile, we can concisely include all the crucial information from business plans, proposals, project design, and so on. There are a lot of ways for us to make our presentations, but in professional business world, there are some disciplines to follow to make a good presentation. And a standard for a good presentation to reach is that it can be effectively perceived and understand by the audience. So the first thing the presenter should remember in writing a presentation is to avoid long paragraphs. Presenters are encouraged to use bullet points in their PowerPoint profile and provide supplement information through verbal speech, and bullet points can both catch audience’s attention to the PowerPoint (because it is easy to read) and the speaking (because they want to hear further clarification for bullet points). Besides, because the PowerPoint profile can be colorful, presenter should pay a lot of attentions in color-matching to make the text clearly showed, and pictures are also encouraged to use in presentations, for images are helpful in catching attentions and induce curiosity. With the presentation genre that can be used effectively in presenting ideas in professional business world, the other professional genre I want to talk about can help us to present ourselves in our career, and this genre is of course resume, which can be the most important tool for us to jump from college to our career. Resumes, like presentations, are wrote for busy businessmen, so it is necessary for a resume-writer to use concise writing to make important informations be easily perceived by the reader, and there are also some


disciplines and format requirements a “good” resume should follow: 1.

The writer should limit the length of their resume into one page, for the reader would have tons of resumes to read at the same time and may not like spend too much time on one of them. Some company may even filter resumes longer than one page and do not read them at all. 2. In order to include all necessary information and make them concise, writers are encouraged to categorize the information and use bullet points in their resume. Because resume is talking about a specific person and the reason he can be competent in certain position, elements of a resume should normally include: name and contact information, education experience, professional experience, leadership/volunteer experience, related time period information and other skills. 3. Coherence is very important in showing professionalism. (Ex, font, time period format, etc.) 4. Don’t use colors. (But if the writer is in marketing major, he might have more space in being creative, but still keep in mind that the resume should be easy to read at the same time has a pleasing format) 5. Professional experience is the part the writer should use the most space and pay most attention to emphasize on, and try to use diverse action verbs and quantitative data to show different aspects of the person’s capacity. 6. Emphasis the person’s different strengths specifically oriented to the job, and always make revisions on the resume when applying to a different position. As what can be notice from above, resume is a great place to show one’s experience, capacity and professionalism, and the primary purpose for a resume is to at first catch the recruiters’ attention and make them willing to finish the reading, and then show how the person is qualified for the position; the most useful skill of writing in certain genre is to always remember the purpose that this genre is made for. Conclusion Business writing genres we have covered in this essay include Syllabus, Case analysis, Reflection paper, Presentation, and Resume. These genres can be spited into two categories: school genres and professional genres. Although for business writing in college, as we discussed before, expressing good ideas and show comprehensive understanding of business knowledge are the most important, so there are not much features that certain genres of 20

writing should include in common, but when it comes to the purpose of the each genres, we can find a lot of similarities. For example, the intention of most school genres, like case analysis and reflection papers, are practicing student’s thinking skills and prepare them for future career, so these find of writings should be detailed; and for professional business writing genres, like presentations and resumes, the purpose is to expressing ideas in the most concise why so writer should eliminate unnecessary details to make important informations easily perceived and understood. I would suggest my readers to always remind themselves the purpose of the genre they are writing for to make sure they can always hit the point and make improvement to the right direction. This skill will work not only for business students, but students in other majors as well. After writing this chapter, I am extremely curious about my peer’s take-aways in genre, or any other aspects in their writing experience. In my next chapter, I will report on my interviews with two upperclassmen in different business majors of University of Denver to show how writing functions in higher-level business courses.


Chapter 3: Interview Report Like what I mentioned at the end of chapter two, after getting insights of existing resources for business writing as well as business writing genres, I had a strong curiosity of what other students think about the topic, especially of upperclassmen’s experiences and suggestions. In order to get these information, I interviewed two senior business students, Amber and Luo, about their writing experience in University of Denver. Both interviews were pleasing and fruitful, I got a great pictures of what I am going to work on and write about in the next three years of my college life and I got some great advices to share with my audience. My two interviewees are from different business majors: Amber is a marketing student and Luo is a hospitality student, and it is surprising to me how some of their answers and responses are similar to each other. As a result, in this interview report, I want to first talk


about the two interviews’ similar points, which can be applied to most business majors, and these points include important elements for business writing, suggestions for freshman students and current situations that should be improved concerning business writing. After talking about these similarities, other useful information I got from my interviewees will also be discussed. (E.g. Tips for preparing future careers) So the first part I want to speak to is what elements in business writings that students should pay the most attentions on. For this question, both of my interviewee’s answer is ideas and details. For most business students, the types of writing they would touch on most frequently are case analysis and business proposals, which doesn’t have to follow certain rules or forms to write as long as the paper is consistent and clear (think about what we discussed in chapter 2). So the most important element for students to show in their paper is ideas because ideas are what writings are served for in business, as well as what professors are looking for. The reason why detail is the same important as ideas is because that business papers in college are all wrote based on real life problems, so writers need to prove that their ideas are applicable and effective by analyzing all possible factors that may influence the case, like time period, issue, competitors, etc., and then come up with ideas based on these detail analysis. As a result, in business writing, details show the critical thinking process of the author and ideas show the capacity creativity of the author in solving problems. When asked to provide suggestions for freshmen, both of my interviewees mentioned how google scholar helped them when doing research. Amber said: “the University’s library system always increase students’ works and my life got a lot easier after just using google scholar, I really wish I could do that earlier.” In other words, Amber think searching engine


can provide students a lot more convenience and also rich enough recourses to students comparing to professional academic resource systems like college’s library. Furthermore, Amber and Luo both demonstrated that time management is the key in college life. According to them, business professors normally would not provide too much time for students to do revisions, especially in higher level business courses, so it is important for students to make appointments with professors as long as they have any confusions or problems, instead of starting to worry about their papers at the end of the quarter. “Don’t expecting that you can always make an appointment with Writing Center, assistants there do not know what your course or project is about, or what your professor’s want from you, the only thing Writing Center can help you with is grammar.” Said by Luo, in a very serious tone. There are also some similar complaints my two interviewees made: Amber and Luo both complained a lot for the different demands and preferences different professors have. For example, some professors may want single space while others prefer double; some professor like colorful design while others prefer traditional black and white format; some professors want some professors are extremely strict in grammar while others do not care, etc. most of these preferences are not shown on syllabus and students felt annoyed by professor’s preference. Luo spend about five minutes in the interview describing one professor who thinks extremely highly in grammar and tortured her so much: even after she went to the writing center to make sure there was no grammar mistake in her paper, that professor still not satisfied and insisted that her paper has grammar problems, and that made her felt upset and exhausted. Amber also comment on the same problem: “To avoid unnecessary conflicts with professors and get bad grades, students sometimes have to know their professors’


preference, but after you finally figure out their preferences, the quarter is almost over.” Other than talking about academic writing, both of my interviewees talked about how we need to move into professional world of business writing. Amber and Luo are both have some internship experiences, and they also developed useful skills from Daniels College of Business’s workshops that designed to prepare senior students for their career. Luo indicated how important for students to be concise in pursuing their careers and gave me some surprising examples to demonstrate that point. “When you send emails trying to build connections with employers or follow up after finished an interview, shorter emails usually get better chance to be relied.” Luo told me, “and conciseness is even more important for resumes, more than one professors have told us that some companies do not even look at resumes over one page.” Amber, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of Microsoft Office software in the interview. “Our University is now having Excel and PowerPoint labs and certificate tests for business students, which is really good because your boss always want you to show ideas or research results in forms and presentations.” Amber think business students should pay a lot attention to presentations because that is the kind of writing they will continue doing after graduation. “Functional business presentation should avoid long paragraphs but use bullet points with oral explanation.”Amber stressed, and I cannot agree more with her: showing all the content on the screen and reading those paragraph aloud is pretty bad; if your audience is willing to read on those paragraphs, why do we make presentations? For a good presentation, what is shown on the screen should only be a few key sentences and the talking should be functional and ear-catching.


In conclusion, the interviews I conducted for my book is valuable; it is so nice to hear experiences and get suggestions from seniors because they have had the same struggles and confusions as what I have now. As a freshman, I didn’t touch on many professional, highlevel business courses, so in a lot of moments during my interview I was like: “Wow I wasn’t expect the coming next year.” With my interviewee’s experience I am actually enabled to be more prepared for my future course works, and I want my readers to be benefit from that, too.

Chapter 4: Proposing Change From the previous Chapter of interview reports, we can notice that there is a big problem concerning writing that bothers business students in University of Denver a lot: different professors have different preferences when grading writing assignments. For example, some professors may want single space while others prefer double; some professor like colorful design while others prefer traditional black and white format; some professors want some professors are extremely strict in grammar while others do not care, etc. Those preferences may not show on the syllabus, but are influencing student’s grade in a great level. Of course, it is understandable for people to have preferences, and even highly-educated professors cannot be exceptions. But this fact cannot be an excuse to stop great writings from getting a good grade because of professor’s personal preference, and that situation is actually common for a lot of business students. When I was doing researches for this book around the


topic of business writing, both of the seniors I interviewed complained a lot about some specific professors have certain preferences that tortured them a lot. For example, Luo, a hospitality students described to me that in this quarter there was one professor who thinks extremely highly in grammar and insisted that her paper has improper grammar even after she went to the writing center and made sure there was no grammar mistake in her paper: Luo’s paper certainly do not have grammar mistakes, but she might use grammar tenses or sentences structures that the professor do not like. That case can occur to every students, and it is unfair if two equally good papers get different grade simple because of different writing styles of the author. Writing style should be a free choice for students, and it is sad if students have to change their writing style every time they enter a new class. Furthermore, because business professors normally do not talk to students about how they can improve their writing and only leave their comments about the contents and ideas, those students who do not actively talk to professors may even don’t know how their grades were influenced by “improper” writing styles after the course ended. As a result, to make sure that business students’ assignments are graded fairly, it is necessary to remind business professors if students think his/her showed inappropriate preferences in student’s writings, in order to do this, the University can add a section on the website to collect anonymous comment or evaluations from students on each professor’s grading condition. Besides, all the professors should also discuss together if part of the professors think new criteria should be add in grading students’ homework, in order to do that, a voting system can be added on the section I mentioned for all business professors to make proposals and agree/disagree other professor’s proposals. These solutions should be


able to be conducted easily, and if so, the fairness of grading in business writing can be improved effectively. Some readers may argue that there is no need to eliminate the influence of personal preferences from different professors, because when students is going to pursue their careers in the future, they will also need to face their boss’s preference, so learning how to meet professors’ preference can actually be helpful to them in preparing for real-world situation. But we should also admit that the position of boss in our life will be long-term, unique and more connected to us, while we are changing our professors quarterly and having several professors at the same time, as what my other interviewee Amber, who is a marketing senior, commented: “To avoid unnecessary conflicts with professors and get bad grades, students sometimes have to know their professors’ preference, but after you finally figure out their preferences, the quarter is almost over.” We cannot conclude that professors’ preference is helpful to students simply by bringing out that students’ boss in the future will also have preferences in their works because these are two completely different conditions. With more certainty of the importance of solving the problem concerning professor’s preferences, let us make further examination of the solution I proposed. As what I mentioned before, my suggestion is that a new section about grading should be add on the University’s website, maybe under the “student” tab, to enable students to make anonymous comments and evaluations on the fairness of each professor’s grading. This solution is pretty feasible because the University already have sections for course evaluations and discussion board on its website, so it should not be too much work creating similar pages. At the same time, the operation of this solution is simple: students can make a comments if they think certain


professor is unfair in grading with just a few minutes with his/her mouse and keyboard, and professors can also be notified once a comments is made by students with the amazingness of internet. Furthermore, because every students can access to the website, professors can decide if they need to reflect on their grading criteria with the amount of feedback they collected, and the University should also make pressures on professors if certain number of negative comments are made on their grading. But in this case, the system of University website should also limit each student ID’s chance of making comments to avoid single students making countless bad comments on certain professor. I also proposed that a voting section should be created on the University’s website to make sure certain professor’s criteria in student’s writing is also verified by other professors, and professors can also take references of other professor’s opinions in grading to make improvements of their courses. The feasibility for this proposal is also strong, for the same reason as the previous one: the University already have similar experience in creating such sections on website and the online operation is very convenient for the users. Overall, this system for business professors is beneficial in both building fair grading systems and unifying different professor’s assignment requirements. In conclusion, a problem in University of Denver’s business writing that I found during the process of researching is that professors’ personal preferences influenced many student’s grade and that problems should be solved by improving the fairness of the University’s grading system for business assignments. In order to solve that problem, I proposed that the University should add sections on its website that can enable students to make comments on professors’ grading, and also enable professors to create discussions on their grading


requirements. To turn this proposal in to real, for example, we can write an official proposal letter to related department with a collection of signatures from students who agree with this proposal. I sincerely hope that we can work together can take this proposal into action.

Chapter 5: Conclusion Now we are at the end of this book. Looking back of its content, we’ve compared existing research results around the topic of writing in business at the beginning, and then in the second chapter, we looked at some some important genres business students would frequently use in college; after that, we have heard from the two senior interviewees in University of Denver about their writing experience and suggestions for freshmen; In the last chapter, we discussed about the potentional opputunity for the University to improve its business writing condition. As what I summarized above, through this book, the topic of writing in business was analyzed thoroughly from its past, present and future. With the detailed analysis that this book includes, I want my peer readers to be envisioned of how they can expand the writing assignments of their major out of the assignment itself. It is important for students to get


insights of writing in their major and to not just consider writings as homeworks to complete. To make the process of writing more enjoyable and useful to us, we should think about the meaning behind our writings: what is the purpose of this writing? For that purpose, what kinds of languages we should use? What elements should we include? Whe whole book is served for brodening the audience’s horizon in writing and the chapters of genre investigation and interview report can be particularly helpful to my readers in practicing the reflection process for writing (purpose, rethorical situations, important elements to include, etc.). Practical meanings can also be taken for better understanding of writing in our major. As what I mentioned in the first Chapter, improvements can be made in our writing after we have the ability to evaluate our paper, and we are only able to evaluate our writings after we know what our instructors will be looking for in our writings. With out thorough understanding of the writing about what should be present or what should be emphasized according to the task’s purpose, we will not be able evaluate our paper objectively, thus the potential improvements we can make in our writings are impeded. For all the business freshmen, me included, which is the target audience group of this book, I hope my research can not only be a useful guide to prepare us from the upcoming years of degree-pursuing, but also be a start for us to researching on writing in our major. We do not have to writing other books for this same topic, but after the project ended, we should keep the custom of thinking when looking at a certain genres of writings or when reading a great research papers talking about writing in our majors, and reflect on what we may add on to our understanding of business writing. This book is worth to read for instructors and professional business scholars, too. From


the professor’s perspective, they may have some functional solutions for the problems I brought out in this paper. For example, in Chapter one I mentioned that common factors that stopped students from getting excellents grade should be summarized by experienced professors. Furthermore, professors may also inspired by the student’s perspective and make improvements of their courses. For example, after reading Chapter 3, some professors may start to realized that there are a lot of students our there complaining about how their writings are judged by personal preference, and then think about if their grading criteria is fair to students.

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Bitzer, Lloyd F. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 1.1 (1968): 114. Print.

2. Dorn, E., Case method instruction in the business writing classroom., Business

Communication Quarterly, 1999, Volume 62, 41–63. 3. Hildebrandt, Herbert W. & Snyder, Richard D., The Pollyanna Hypothesis in Business

Writing: Initial Results, Suggestions for Research, International Journal of Business Communication, print, January 1981 vol. 18 no. 1, Pages 5-15 4. Howard, Rebecca Moore. “Applications and Assumptions of Student Self-

Assessment.”, Smith and Yancey 35-38. 5. Jameson, Daphne A., New Options for Usability Testing Projects in Business

Communication Courses, Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, print, December 2013 vol. 76 no. 4, Pages 397-411 32

6. Stowers, Robert H. & Baker, Randolph T., Improved Student Writing In Business

Communication Classes: Strategies for Teaching and Evaluation, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, print, Volume 33, Number 4, 2003, Pages 337-348. 7.

Stevens, Kevin T. & Stevens, Kathleen C. & Stevens, William P., Measuring the Readability of Business Writing: The Cloze Procedure versus Readability Formulas, International Journal of Business Communication, print, September 1992 vol. 29 no. 4 Pages 367-382.

8. Thomas, Susan G., Prepare business student for real-world writing, Education +

Training, print, Volume 36, Issue 6, Pages 11 – 15. 9. Zhu, Wei., Writing in business courses: an analysis of assignment types, their

characteristics, and required skills, English for Specific Purposes, print, Volume 23, Issue 2, 2004, Pages 111–135.


Appendix ECON1020 Syllabus by Daniels Zuchengno


ECON1030 Syllabus by Mark Evers:



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