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PFWR 3170: Practical Workplace Writing
Spring 2018, Hybrid, Section 1A (CRN 27911)
Macon campus, TR 12:30-1:45 COAS 222

Dr. Chip Rogers

Office: Arts and Sciences (COAS) 203
: (478) 471-5366
Office hours: M 11:30-1:00, Tu 11:00-12:30, 2:00-400,
     W 4:30-5:30, Th 11:00-12:30, and by appointment

Course description

As indicated in the MGA Catalog, PFWR 3170 "covers nuts and bolts fundamentals of workplace writing, including visual rhetoric and document design, writing for print, digital, and social media, and development of standard business documents such as memos and other routine workplace correspondence, proposals, and reports." The course equips students with practical essentials for all manner of workplace writing environments. Three credit hours.

Prerequisite: at least a "C" in ENGL 1102.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • design visually effective business documents using a variety of common professional software;
  • compose and edit rhetorically effective business documents working collaboratively with classmates;
  • design and generate documents of various purposes in a variety of print and digital environments;
  • write clearly and concisely, with grammar, diction, and style appropriate to various rhetorical situations.

Required Texts
bulletThe Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams, 4th ed., Pearson, 2015, ISBN 978-0-13-396615-2
bullet Business and Professional Writing: A Basic Guide for Americans, by Paul MacRae, Broadview Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-55481-331-5

Hybrid Nature of the Course

This course is a "hybrid class," meaning that it does not meet in the physical classroom location every scheduled class day. The class meets face to face in Macon on Tuesdays. The other "half" of the class takes place online in the University's Brightspace (D2L) online Learning Management System or through independent work outside of class.


Attendance: Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class on time every day. I record attendance, and absences do affect your grade. Students with more than three absences fail the class, regardless of the reasons for any of the absences—I make no distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any assignments you happen to miss other than reading quizzes, especially when you let me know about the absence before missing class: email me anytime you must miss class.

Textbooks: The texts ordered for this class, in the correct editions, are mandatory. Students who fail to acquire the proper texts at the beginning of the semester will do poorly in the course.

Late work: Late work is penalized one letter grade for each class day the assignment is late. Work turned in more than three class days late will receive no higher grade than F, and I accept no work more than two weeks late.

Bare minimum course requirements: Regardless of your overall grade average, to be eligible to pass the course you must complete all individual and collaborative projects and submit a complete final portfolio.

Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Student Conduct Officer. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is an "F" for the entire course, not just the assignment in question. 

Note that the Department of English's more specific definition of plagiarism is operative in this class:

1. It is plagiarism to copy another’s words directly and present them as your own without quotation marks and direct indication of whose words you are copying.  All significant phrases, clauses, and passages copied from another source require quotation marks and proper acknowledgment, down to the page number(s) of printed texts.

2. It is plagiarism to paraphrase another writer’s work by altering some words but communicating the same essential point(s) made by the original author without proper acknowledgment.  Though quotation marks are not needed with paraphrasing, you must still acknowledge the original source directly.

3. Plagiarism includes presenting someone else’s ideas or factual discoveries as your own.  If you follow another person’s general outline or approach to a topic, presenting another’s original thinking or specific conclusions as your own, you must cite the source even if your work is in your own words entirely.  When you present another’s statistics, definitions, or statements of fact in your own work, you must also cite the source.

4. Plagiarism includes allowing someone else to prepare work that you present as your own.

5. Plagiarism applies in other media besides traditional written texts, including, but not limited to, oral presentations, graphs, charts, diagrams, artwork, video and audio compositions, and other electronic media such as web pages, PowerPoint presentations, and postings to online discussions.

For more on plagiarism, follow the "On Plagiarism" link on my website.  

Withdrawal Policies: Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy found at http://www.mga.edu/registrar/dropadd.aspx before dropping/withdrawing from the class. Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date (Wednesday, March 7, 2018). After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” A WF is calculated in the GPA as an “F.” Instructors may assign “W” grades for students with excessive absences (beyond the number of absences permitted by the instructor’s stated attendance policy). Students may withdraw from a maximum of five courses throughout their enrollment at Middle Georgia State. Beyond the five-course limit, withdrawals result in “F” grades. 

Class Behavior Expectations and Consequences for Violations: Middle Georgia State University students are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the MGA Student Code of Conduct. Student Code of Conduct, Responsibilities, Procedures, and Rights are found at  

MGA Policy on Disability Accommodations: Students seeking academic accommodations for a special need must contact the Middle Georgia State University Office of Disability Services in Macon at (478) 471-2985 or in Cochran at (478) 934-3023. See http://www.mga.edu/disability-services/

“Technical Policy” (re: plagiarism detection): a plagiarism prevention service is used in evaluation of written work submitted for this course. As directed by the instructor, students are expected to submit or have their assignments submitted through the service in order to meet requirements for this course. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

End of Course Evaluations: Student evaluations of faculty are administered online at the end of each term/session for all courses with five or more students. Students will receive an email containing a link to a survey for each course in which they are enrolled. All responses are anonymous.

Cell phones/personal electronics: The use of cell phones, ipods, and other hand-held personal electronics devices is not permitted during face-to-face class-time.  All such devices must be kept out of sight for the duration of class—off of desks and out of laps. I will count absent any student texting or viewing a personal electronic device, and if the problem persists I will ask students not abiding by this policy to leave the classroom. Students who wish to take notes on laptops may do so, but only if they sit in the back row.

Final grade breakdown and instruments of evaluation

 Participation (in class and online)
50 pts.
 Reading quizzes
50 pts.
 Writing exercises
150 pts.
 Individual projects
250 pts.
 Collaborative projects
200 pts.
 Project corrections
100 pts.
 Final portfolio 200 pts.

Participation: Most face-to-face class periods will involve open discussion of the reading assignments with comparatively little lecture, so your participation in discussion is essential. I will occasionally call on reticent or "quiet" students. To participate, obviously you must be present in class; to score higher than B- in participation you will need to contribute in discussion spontaneously and appropriately several times each class meeting, as well as being fully engaged in all other course activities, including effective group-work contributions in and out of class.

Reading quizzes: brief unannounced quizzes testing your careful attention to the readings.

Writing exercises: ranging from matters of grammar and convention to specific elements of document design, software mastery, and rhetorical tactics.

Individual projects: relatively brief writing assignments (one-to-two pages) in a variety of genres, implementing principles, tactics, tools, and strategies emphasized in the readings and in discussion.

Collaborative projects: documents and other artifacts generated through teamwork with your classmates. Project grades are uniform for all team members.

Project corrections: comprehensive correction or improvement in grammar and mechanics of selected individual and collaborative projects after they are graded. Corrections receive separate grades from the original project grades.

Final portfolio: includes a selection of revised individual and collaborative projects produced throughout the semester, also documents composed specifically for the portfolio.

Keeping up with grades: You should check your grades periodically in Brightspace (D2L). Let me know if you have concerns about your class average or grades on specific assignments before you consider withdrawing from the course.

A note on note-taking: It is essential that you take notes every class period. "A" students typically take extensive notes. Even in class periods where your classmates do as much "discussing" as the professor, you should make note of any significant points made by anyone in the discussion.

The Bottom Line: I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do all I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrongthe standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on absences, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. The key to succeeding in this class is taking responsibility for your own success, meaning that you attend to all assignments with your most careful and earnest diligence, that you respond positively to any setbacks and heed my feedback on all assignments, and that you seek my help as much and as often as you need it. I guarantee you have one of the most accessible professors at Middle Georgia State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver.  

Addendum to the syllabus:
bulletPFWR 3170 schedule of readings and assignments