This is the course website for English 309, Section A, taught by Quinn Warnick at Iowa State University during spring 2009. Please refer to the policy document and syllabus, found at the top of the center column, for more information about this class. Updates to the syllabus will be posted several days in advance, and any changes to the readings and/or assignments will be reflected in the summaries for each week.
Unit #1: Individual Report and Proposal
English 309 Unit #1: Individual Report and Proposal(worth 20% of your grade; due February 26)
OverviewYour first assignment will be situated in a real organization in need of change. Your major task is to identify a problem that is affecting the overall productivity of the organization or an opportunity for change that you believe would greatly benefit the organization. This problem or opportunity might be related to technology, communication, business/workflow processes, security, or any other number of topics. Although you may want to choose your current workplace as your project site, you could also offer your services to an academic department on campus, a friend’s workplace, or a non-profit organization in the community. However, the most important stipulation for this assignment is that the situation must be real, not hypothetical.
To identify this problem/opportunity you will need to do primary research in the form of observations and interviews to verify that a problem/opportunity does exist and that the organization would like to see it addressed. You will then develop a solution for the problem, research your solution, develop a plan, and write a proposal to the organization that reports your findings and persuades the organization to enact your plan. Solutions might range from purchasing new equipment or software, to holding a training session, to creating documents to help the employees address the problem.
NOTE: In any situation, clearing the project with your boss or supervisor is always a good idea so that he or she knows what you are doing and that you won’t neglect your duties on the job.
Selecting a Site and TopicAs you consider possible research sites, try to choose an organization you are intimately familiar with, as you will be writing your proposal to members of that organization. Assume that you are respected as a knowledgeable member of the organization, and that your proposal will be taken seriously if it is well-written and persuasive. Assume that your audience consists of individuals who can make decisions regarding the ideas in your proposal. You can also assume that your audience will need to be persuaded to adopt your plan, so you will need to include information about the pros and cons of your proposed solution, as well any relevant information you have collected from internal and external sources.
Choose a topic that interests you, that is real and relatively easily solved, and that you can write several documents about from the same pool of primary and secondary research. For example, possible problems/opportunities might include:
- Ineffective training sessions or materials for new employees
- Lack of communication opportunities among organization members that could be resolved with a better system or communication tool
- Old, troublesome equipment, computers, or software
- Poor physical or electronic security
- Opportunity to change processes or implement a new system/product at the location
- The release of a new technology or option that will benefit your company immediately
DocumentationYou should treat this document as a hybrid of academic and professional genres. As such, you will practice professional writing and design standards as well as good documented academic research. You will need to gather information from at least 6-8 credible sources (which can include people in the affected organization) and document them appropriately using in-text introductions, quotations (if necessary), footnote or endnote citations, and a works cited page formatted using a style guide appropriate to your field. To ensure that you have conducted primary and secondary research, I will check sources. An interview with someone in your office, an employee survey to gauge preference for different options, and comparative or consumer information websites all count as good sources of research.
Deliverables and DeadlinesAlthough the final document is not due until February 26, you will submit several shorter documents and/or drafts before that date. Submitting sloppy or incomplete work for these shorter assignments, or not being prepared for workshop sessions or conferences with me, will negatively affect your cumulative grade for shorter assignments and class participation.
Your final document should be written in memo format, be 7–10 single-spaced pages plus the works cited page, and contain at least two useful visuals (eg., Gantt chart, cost table). The document should be well-organized, well-researched, well-documented, and persuasive. At minimum, your document should contain the following elements:
- Persuasive introduction to the problem or opportunity
- Evidence of research
- Detailed solution and plan
- Detailed benefits to audience and key parties
- Detailed costs analysis of solution/plan
- Persuasive call to action
Evaluation CriteriaYour final document will be evaluated based on how well it:
- displays an understanding of the rhetorical situation and a sensitivity to your audience.
- demonstrates your research of the organization and the problem/opportunity you have selected.
- proposes a realistic and reasonable plan that might actually be implemented by the organization.
- makes succinct and persuasive arguments for following the course of action you recommend.
- outlines specific actions the organization would need to take to enact your proposal.
- uses visual elements (fonts, figures, headings, lists, layout, etc.) to complement the written text.
- adheres to the conventions of standard written English (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.).
[Note: This assignment is a modified version of an assignment originally developed by Rebecca Pope-Ruark.]