ENGL 2105 : Workplace-Based Writing and Research

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Example Syllabus


Professor: Dr. George Pullman
25 Park Place, # 2424



A grade of C or better in English 1101 and 1102.


To contribute significantly to a business, not-for-profit organization, government or non-government organization, or corporation you have to be able to think clearly, communicate effectively, and make valuable decisions in a world where certainty is often a sign of arrogance or bias. You have to be able to think your way through a maze of data, contradictory opinions, impulsive beliefs, partial truths, and temporary realities. You also have to guide other people through the maze. This class will show you how to approach complex communication situations in a methodical way, emphasizing the collection and evaluation of qualitative data as preparation for communicating effectively with others. 

Critical thinkers define their terms before they use them.  Critical thinking in general is about asking the right questions, seeking answers in a methodical fashion (research), and questioning the results of the research to make sure we have correctly answered our questions and that we asked the right questions to begin with. We also need to factor in context and change. Once we have our answers, we need to accurately infer what course of action to pursue based on the answers we have and the confidence we have in them. If you can navigate the maze, you can think critically. If you can think critically in different settings and effectively communicate your thinking to relevant others, you are an asset and not just an employee. 

Critical thinking in essence:

What problem are you solving, for whom, for what benefit (to them), at what cost (mostly to you) and at what profit (to you).


Write with clarity and brevity

Think critically (summarizes, synthesizes, avoids biases, unwarranted assumptions)

Create effective personae (empathize and characterize without caricature or stereotype)

Create effective questionnaires (can design an unbiased, useful, information gathering instrument)

Visualize data

Understand social networking


1)  weekly prose revision exercises -- a set of before and after examples demonstrating the ability to edit for clarity and brevity

20% of final grade

2) personae (picture, description of values, goals, attitudes, behaviors, context, primary setting)

20% of final grade

3) questionnaire (design an effective instrument for determining what a group thinks about something)

a.     basic statistics and probability -- validity, reliability, accuracy, precision, representative sample, standard deviations, skews, cherry picking, misleading scales, odds

                                               i.     (how not to get dazzled by numbers)

15% of final grade

4) data visualization exercises (using given datasets, design the most effective charts, graphs, or tables.

15 % of final grade

5) Give an effective PowerPoint/Keynote presentation

15% of final grade

6) Add significantly to the LinkedIn profile you created in your intro to business class


15% of final grade



Specific criteria will be discussed in class for each assignment prior to the due date. All three of these concepts will be evaluated by examining a portfolio of work for each assignment (including a reflective essay and revisions). Grades will be assigned on the entire portfolio or project, not on each individual piece. Your instructor will discuss portfolio contents before each assignment is due.

The letter scale and quality points used for major assignments are below.

A+             4.3                             C+             2.3

A               4.0                             C               2.0

A-              3.7                             C-              1.7

B+             3.3                             D               1.0

B               3.0                             F                0

B-              2.7          




Digital content created, curated, and maintained by the instructors. Cost, $10 dollars per student. The money will support instructors giving presentations at relevant conferences.



According to the GSU student handbook

Your professor expects you to:

       Be informed about instructors' policies, which are presented in the course syllabus, as well as the policies of the Georgia State University on-campus Student Handbook.

       Attend all classes, except when emergencies arise. If health and weather allow, your instructor will be present and on time for every scheduled class meeting. You should be, too.

       Be an active participant in class, taking notes and asking appropriate questions. Your involvement will benefit you and your classmates.

       Treat the instructor and fellow students with courtesy. Refrain from any behaviors that may distract others. You expect to be treated with tolerance and respect and to enjoy a learning environment free of unnecessary distractions. Your classmates deserve the same.

       Cultivate effective study strategies. Being an effective student is not instinctive. Use your study time wisely, seek help from the instructor when you need it, and avail yourself of resources provided by the university.

       Study course material routinely after each meeting. Stick to a regular study schedule and avoid cramming. Submit finished assignments on time and do not postpone working on them.

       Accept the challenge of collegiate studying, thinking, and learning. Anticipate that the level and quantity of work in some courses will exceed your prior experiences. If you have significant responsibilities besides your studies, such as work and family, set realistic academic goals and schedules for yourself. Select an academic load whose work demands do not exceed your available time and energy.

       Let no temptation cause you to surrender your integrity.

       Student code of conduct

       Academic honesty policy

       Disability services


Examination Policy

There will be an examination during the examination period. Choose three from the following:

1.     Make an effective chart for each of the data sets presented (pencil sketch), explain your choice

2.     Revise a one page paper for clarity and brevity

3.     Revise a questionnaire to eliminate bias and ambiguity

4.     Create a persona given this data set

5.     Given this scenario, what would you advise and why?

a.     given the arrival of this significant data, how will the scenario likely change and how will you revise your advice?


This syllabus represents a plan only. Deviations may be necessary.

Example Calendar







Introduction writing and research in the work place


Interviewing -- active, non-judgmental, non-leading, listening



Questionnaires --databased decision making, open ended / closed ended, Likert scales


Clarity & Brevity (C&B)

organizing information (chunking, hierarchizing, searchability)




Common errors

-- leading, ambiguous, order effects, anticipation



alternative paths (executive summaries)



sample sizes, populations, representative samples,

validity and reliability



C&B redundant expressions









Personae -- how business "knows its audience" (in addition to demographics)



nominalization and active voice -- energy, agency, responsibility



Personae --

generalizing from specific examples






avoiding stereotypes, caricatures, biases



empty words and phrases, pointless intensifiers, BS



the difference between selling features and identifying benefits -- what problem are you solving?


How to sound like a real person talking with other real people.









Intuition and judgment



Sharing and oversharing



Cognitive biases






Basic probability -- sample space, identifying possible outcomes



LinkedIn -- Skills, Values, Goals, Endorsing others




Slides (no more than 3 words per slide)


How to present without looking at your slides









PR (principles of basic corporate communications)


The camera is always rolling; stay on message;