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English 229 (006)

Professional Writing

Instructor: Dr. April Conway

Meeting time: MW 11:30-12:50

Office: 3145 Angell Hall
Office Hours: MW 10:30-11:00 and 2:30-3:30 (and by appointment). Note: I will also be
available to schedule Skype/Google Hangout Meetings when not on campus.

Catalog Description
ENG 229 Professional Writing is a rhetorically-grounded argumentative writing course that
focuses on the genres typically encountered in professional workplaces. The course focuses on
genres such as technical instructions, reports, proposals, correspondence, and application
materials, and it addresses ethical issues that arise in professional communication. Students
engage in collaborative writing projects, document design, and independent research. English
229 is particularly appropriate for students interested in writing-intensive professions, including
government, journalism, law, community advocacy, the non-profit sector, education, corporate
communications, finance, and the arts. The course builds upon the skills developed in other
writing courses by further developing students’ abilities to make effective, creative, well-
crafted arguments for specific audiences and specific purposes.

Course Objectives
This course will enable you to:
• understand the purposes, processes, and patterns of professional communication
• develop a shared critical vocabulary for producing and analyzing professional
• hone writing craft, style, and mechanics in the genre of professional writing,
and develop skills for conveying complex information to various audiences
using both text and images
• develop flexible strategies for creating, revising, and editing writing in
various professional genres, including strategies for collaborating and using
digital technologies
• develop strategies for self-assessment and reflection on the process of writing.

Required Course Materials

Required Text:
Additional readings for this course can be found as on our Canvas course site under “Files.”
Please check the site daily for readings and correspondence.
Also required:
• Printed or digital copies of the day’s readings
• Writing materials: laptops some days, pen and paper
• A digital storage device capable of storing compositions

Full descriptions of the formal and informal assignments can be found on Canvas. We will
also review the assignment descriptions in class.
1. Email of Introduction, Individual, Formal
2. Job Materials: Resume and Cover Letter, Individual, Formal
3. Community Partner Project, Group, Formal
4. Reflective Essay on Community Partnership, Individual, Formal
5. Investigative Report, Individual, Formal
6. Abstracts and Executive Summaries, Individual, Informal and Ongoing

Labor Contract; i.e. Assessment and Grade Distribution

Your success in this class is important to me. Because of this, my approach to teaching and
assessment is grounded in writing studies research, specifically by scholar Asao B. Inoue. This
approach is a labor-based grading contract that will be used to calculate grades. My reasons for
a labor-based contract are as follows:
1. Writers need room to explore and take risks as foundations for learning. Often grades
work against processes of exploration and risk-taking.
2. Traditional schooling practices, including grading methods, can be
counterproductive because they affect learning, motivation, and relationships in
the classroom.
3. This labor-based approach to grading is an attempt at a pedagogical shift, one that may
be uncomfortable because of its contrast to the educational culture you have been a
part of. This shift is meant to engender a culture of support, one that also enhances
learning. Our classroom community complements the learning goals and course
description for ENG 229 because it reflects practices of collaboration and compassion.
When you engage in the labor needed to make this a successful course for you and for
everyone, in the manner and spirit it is asked, then you will earn a “B” (3.0) course grade.

English 229: Contract Requirements

You are guaranteed a course grade of “B” (3.0) if you meet all the following conditions.
1. Collaboration and Participation. Effective learning and working is dependent on
effective collaboration. This looks like working cooperatively and collegially with your
peers and with me, whether in small groups, with a partner, or with the whole class.
Working collaboratively means you are actively participating in, at least, the
• Treating each other with respect even if there are disagreements of
• Providing thoughtful and in-depth feedback on each other’s work. This
entails thoroughly preparing for workshop before class and consistently using
workshop time as directed.
• Participating by completing all homework and in-class writing and activities
so that you can regularly and actively contribute to class discussion, pose
questions, respond to others, and build upon your learning.

• Listening with intention, which means being present when people speak and
taking in and considering what someone says before preparing your own
• This course will require you, at times, to use a device during class time. I
recognize that for some of you a laptop is a necessary part of learning, and, for
others, you are an excellent multitasker. However, research suggests that not
everyone is an excellent multitasker (Sana et al 1). Please be respectful of your
classmates and restrict your use of digital devices to course content. If we see
that you or your peers are distracted, we will ask you to put your device(s) away
and you may earn a non-participation day. You will learn more if you
concentrate on the course and your classmates will thank you for not impeding
their ability to learn.

2. Attend class and arrive on time. I recognize that our lives encompass more than this
course. Per university practice, you may miss two class sessions without penalty. I
will excuse your absence if you bring me a note from a health professional, a signed
letter from a University team or program, or another relevant document. If you miss
class, please check our online course site for information about assignments and
email a peer to collect any notes. It is good practice to email me regarding your
absence and share documentation when fitting (such as when you want your
absences excused). NOTE: Arriving late/leaving early three times can result in a non-
participation day.

3. Writing Conference: To build confidence in creating college-level writing, we will

have one-on-one conversations about your specific questions about or challenges
with meeting expectations for a specific writing task. To ensure that you are getting
the encouragement and feedback you need to support your writing efforts, you are
required to schedule one conference with me and to submit the corresponding
materials to Canvas by the deadlines.

4. For All Work/Writing you will need to:

• Demonstrate sustained effort and investment throughout all phases of a project.
This means demonstrating the habits of mind outlined in the Framework for
Success in Postsecondary Writing by the Council of Writing Program
• Revise your work substantially and thoughtfully. This means revisions must
somehow respond to or seriously consider your colleagues’ and my assessments.
• Edit your work carefully to eliminate careless errors. You must spend
significant time in your labor processes to look just at the spelling and
grammar. While some errors are understandable, if there are patterns of
carelessness—especially with MLA or APA style guide citations and

Sana et al. “Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers.” Computers and
Education, 62, March 2013, pp. 24-31.


formatting—your work may receive incompletes. It’s fine to get help with
copy editing, so, while they will not copy edit for you, please visit Sweetland
Writing Center to further learn how to proof read your own writing.
• Complete all work on time:
• Extended Deadlines for Final, Formal Projects. Within a range, you can set
your own deadline for a final, formal project. I will evaluate these projects in
the order in which I receive them. Though a baseline deadline is indicated on
the course schedule, the absolute final deadline is set on Canvas.
• Late/Incomplete Work. All assignments are used in class when they are due, so
turning in after it is due, or submitting something that is incomplete, means it is
assured to be less useful for you and your peers. Therefore, you agree to turn in
on time all work expected of you in the spirit assigned, which means you’ll
complete all of the labor instructions for each assignment.
• Missed Work. Missed work is any work unaccounted for in the term: I have no
record of you doing it or turning it in. Ignoring the work affects learning and
labor in our community. So, accumulating any “missed work” will affect your
• Further Details: The chart below (“Knowing Where You Stand”) outlines
how incomplete/late and missed assignments impact your final course grade.
However, I recognize that life events can prevent us from submitting some
work in a timely manner or in a manner that does not truly represent of our
best efforts and understanding. Therefore, should an extenuating
circumstance arise, we will negotiate a submission extension together. You
must notify me within 24 hours of an assignment’s deadline that you need an
extension. Should extensions be repeatedly requested (i.e. 3 times), further
discussion will be required, documentation may be requested, and your final
grade may be impacted.
• Please note that you may only submit a complete rough draft of a formal
project late if you inform and negotiate an extended deadline with your
peers and with me. You are responsible for emailing all of us before the
deadline. You can email me separately first but then must CC me on the
email to your peers.
A” Grades
As can be noted, the grade of “B” depends primarily on labor, including participation. Grades
of “A” (4.0) require more labor. To get an “A” course grade, you must complete on time and
in the spirit asked of you:
• A 20-minute, individual class presentation/lecture/activity, with a lesson outline,
handout for the class, and a post-activity reflection letter (addressed to me), on
the material we’ve agreed upon (described in the assignment prompt). These
facilitations should address material on the course schedule. Students must also
respond to my emails before the facilitation as part of the requirement.
• A 4-5 page proposal (intro-body-conclusion), in addition to any front/back
materials and needed graphics, charts, or figures, responding to a specific
exigency outlined in the assignment description. Presented to the class.
• A digital, multimodal project such as a video (2-5 minutes), audio essay (4-8

minutes), website, or data visualization project that meets the requirements

for labor on the syllabus. Two double-spaced pages of text (as transcript,
content, planning, etc.) are also due along with the completed project.
Improving Your Contracted Grade
If you are shooting for an A, but can’t properly complete all three additional items of labor,
you can still improve your grade. For every item you complete, your contracted grade will
improve by .3 grade points. So, if you meet the conditions for a B-contract (3.0), your grade
can improve in the following ways:
• 1 item completed=course grade of 3.3
• 2 items completed =course grade of 3.7
• 3 items completed=course grade of 4.0
Revision: In the spirit of recognizing the importance of revision when writing, you may revise
one formal and one informal assignment should you receive an incomplete on either/both types
of assignments. To use your revision(s), email me within 24 hours after receiving the incomplete
to indicate your desire to revise. You have one week from the original deadline to revise.

Exemplary labor: If by our final class meeting, you have shown exemplary leadership in
participation then you may earn an extra .3 (equal to one item on the advanced contract) for
your final course grade. This rule is meant to reward those students who demonstrate
themselves to be exemplary models of collaborators and community builders.

Knowing Where You Stand

This system is better than regular grading for giving you a clear idea of what your final grade
looks like at any moment. If you are doing everything as directed and turning things in on time,
you’re getting a B (3.0). As for participation in class, you'll have to keep track of it, but you can
check with me at any time. I’ll tell you what I have recorded.

#Non- #Late/Incomplete #Missed

Participation Assignments Assignments
A 4.0 2 4 0
B 3.0 2 4 0
C 2.0 3 6 0
D 1.0 4 8 1
*If your grade cannot be easily tracked this means that a condition on the contract has been impacted
and your grade be will be lowered by .3 for each missed condition. For instance, if you have a 3.0
but then have 5 late/incomplete assignments, your grade will drop to a 2.7; if you have a 3.7 but
then earn 3 non-participation days by the end of the term, then the grade will be a 3.3, etc.

Policies, Procedures, Resources

Contacting Me by Email: Please email me if you have any questions. I will ordinarily respond
within 24 hours. However, do not expect a response before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on weekdays
and not at all over the weekend. Additionally, if you don’t receive my email reply, I may not have

received your message and you should discuss the content of your email with me in person.

Religious Observances: If a class session or due date conflicts with your religious holidays,
please notify me so that we can make alternative arrangements. In most cases, I will ask you to
turn in your assignment ahead of your scheduled absence, but in accordance with UM policy on
religious/academic conflicts, your absence will not affect your grade in the course.

Accommodations for Special Needs: The University of Michigan is committed to ensuring the
full participation of all students, and I am committed to making learning as accessible as possible
for all of my students. If you have a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this
class or to complete course requirements, please ask Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
to provide documentation of the accommodations that you need (734) 647-5739.d. Then, please
share this documentation with me as soon as possible, preferably within the first few weeks of
class. I will treat as private and confidential any information that you share.

If you suspect that you may have a disability and would like to be tested, Services for Students
with Disabilities can provide free screenings and referrals to low-cost diagnostic services.
Here is the contact information for Services for Students with Disabilities:
• location: G-664 Haven Hall; phone: 734-763-3000 § website:

Mental Health Resources: As a student, you may experience challenges that negatively affect
your learning, such as anxiety, depression, interpersonal or sexual violence, difficulty with
eating or sleeping, grief/loss, and alcohol or drug problems. The University of Michigan offers
several confidential services that you might find helpful for addressing such challenges,
• Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 734-764-8312
• Psychiatric Emergency Services: 734-996-4747.
If you have a diagnosed mental health condition, you may also be able to register with Services for
Students with Disabilities: see

Student Sexual Misconduct Policy: Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which
includes sexual misconduct such as harassment, domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and
stalking. If you are dealing with sexual misconduct, you can speak to someone confidentially by
calling the 24-hour crisis line at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC): 734-
936- 3333. For non-emergencies, you can contact SAPAC at If you want to report
an alleged violation, you can contact the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) at The OIE works to create a campus environment that is inclusive,
respectful, and free from discrimination and harassment. Your report will not be confidential.

Please note: As an instructor, I am responsible for helping to create a safe learning environment
on campus, and I may be required to report information about sexual misconduct or a crime
that may have occurred on UM’s campus.

Plagiarism: If you commit an act of academic dishonesty in this course either by plagiarizing
someone’s work or by allowing your own work to be misused by another person, you will face

the following consequences:

• You will fail the assignment and may fail the course.
• I will report the incident to the Director of the English Department Writing Program.
• I will also forward your case, with an explanatory letter and all pertinent materials,
to the LSA Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.
• The Dean will determine an appropriate penalty, which may involve academic
probation and/or community service.
• If you commit plagiarism while you are already on probation for plagiarism, you may
be asked to leave the University.

Please note: Plagiarism is usually the result of poor planning or some unforeseen circumstance.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your choices are to plagiarize or to fail to
submit an assignment, choose the latter. Contact me in advance (even right before the
deadline) so we can work something out. The UM library has useful resources on plagiarism for
you to review at

Writing and Composing Resources

Sweetland Center for Writing: The Sweetland Center for Writing is an amazing, free resource! If
you would like additional feedback or assistance as you’re planning, drafting, or revising your
writing assignments, you can schedule an individual appointment with a Sweetland faculty
member, drop in for a peer-tutoring session, correspond online with a peer tutor, or submit
your work online to receive feedback within 72 hours. For more information, please visit:

Technology: If you need equipment or other support for a digital project, make a reservation at
LSA Instructional Support Services (ISS). ISS rents out cameras, microphones and other gear on a
first come, first served basis. Visit their offices in Mason Hall or 2001 Modern Language Building
(MLB), call them at (734) 615-0100, or go online to for information. You
can also go to the Digital Media Commons at the Duderstadt Center to check out equipment,
utilize studio space, and receive additional tech help. Contact the Center at (734) 647-5739.

Course Contract Agreement

By staying in this course and attending class, you accept this contract and agree to abide by it.
I (Dr. Conway) also agree to abide by this contract and administer it equitably.

I attest to have carefully read this syllabus, and I agree to enter in to this course contract. I
understand that fulfilling all the requirements of the contract will result in a grade of at least a
B (3.0) in the course, that not fulfilling all the requirements will result in a grade lower than a B
(3.0), and that completing additional labor with the same dedicated intention as the work
required for a B (3.0) will result in a higher grade.

Name (Sign and Print) Date

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