Projects & Activities

1. Employment Project 

You will be asked to locate a job for which you are qualified and apply for it. Step 1 of the project asks you to learn about and use various web-based resources for job seekers and ultimately to select one job or internship to pursue. Steps 2 and 3 ask you to prepare the all-important "Job Application Letter" and a resume specifically designed for the job or internship you've selected in Step 1. In Step 4, you will assess your experience in a "Project Assessment Document." In the process of completing each step, you will work closely with your peers and with me to shape your writing so that it represents you and your experience fully and effectively, given the rhetorical circumstances. You will also study and respond to examples from the textbook. (Individual; 15% of course grade.) 

 

2. White Paper Project

The focus of Project 2 is the white paper, a common report genre in the professional world. White papers are used in business, industrial, and governmental contexts to sum up the gist of what’s known about a subject and, often, to market a product. During this project you will learn about

All group members will keep a project log and submit Collaborative Project Evaluation forms. (Collaborative: 25% of course grade.)

 

3. Recommendation Report Project

For Project 3, you will work collaboratively in project teams on a client-based service-learning project that teaches you to manage complex writing challenges in real contexts that matter. You will learn principles of project management, collaboration, document cycling, oral presentation, and client-based research. (Collaborative; 40% of course grade.)

Project 1: Employment Project

During the Employment Project, you will learn strategies for seeking and securing employment or an internship, with particular attention to the documents people normally use to represent themselves and their prospects to potential employers. This project asks you to work individually, but there will also be chances for you to work with your peers to exchange ideas and feedback in your blogs.

Project Prompt and Summary

Locate a real and specific job or internship for which you are qualified and prepare the application materials for it. If you already have a good job, find one that would be an advance for you, then prepare application materials for that position. Alternatively, you may want to apply for an internship that will give you valuable experience. Step 1 of the project asks you to learn about and use various resources for job seekers and ultimately to select one job or internship to pursue. Steps 2 and 3 ask you to prepare the all-important "Job Application Letter" and a resume specifically designed for the job or internship you've selected in Step 1. In the process of completing each step, you will work closely with your peers and me to shape your writing so that it represents you and your experience fully and effectively, given the rhetorical circumstances. You will also study and respond to examples from the textbook.

Project Goals

This project emphasizes several important goals that all professional writers should bear in mind and that are consistent with those of the Professional Writing Program at Purdue. In the Employment Project, you will learn to shape your writing for very specific situations and purposes:

Writing in Context

  • writing for a range of defined audiences and stakeholders

Project Management

  • Understand, develop and deploy various strategies for planning, researching, drafting, revising, and editing documents both individually and collaboratively.
  • Select and use appropriate technologies that effectively and ethically address professional situations and audiences.
  • Build professional ethos through documentation and accountability.

Document Design
Make rhetorical design decisions about workplace documents, including

  • understanding and adapting to genre conventions and audience expectations
  • understanding and implementing design principles of format and layout
  • interpreting and arguing with design
  • drafting, researching, testing, and revising visual designs and information architecture

Teamwork
Learn and apply strategies for successful teamwork and collaboration, such as

  • working online with colleagues
  • responding constructively to peers' work

Research
Understand and use various research methods to produce professional documents, including

  • analyzing professional contexts

Grading

The Employment Project is worth 15% of your course grade. The breakdown for each of its components is as follows: Step 1: Skills Inventory, Job Description and Job Ad Analysis (10%); Step 2: Job Application Letter (45%); Step 3: Print Resume (45%).

Grading Criteria

When grading your project, I will pay particular attention to see whether you have effectively adapted your documents to the job for which you have applied. Your writing will need to be precise, accurate, and well-suited to the context (the job/field) and to the rhetorical occasion (in terms of tone, style, and content). In this case, a generic, catch-all resume and cover letter will not satisfy the requirements of the project.  No document with even ONE typo, misspelling, or grammar error will get an A.

Deliverables

Step 1Skills Inventory, Job Description and Job Ad Analysis . Find a job ad and produce an exact copy of it. Then do some analysis and reflection. Fill out the Job Ad Analysis form; the rough draft is due by classtime Friday, September 5. The final draft is due by classtime Monday, September 8.

Step 2Job Application Letter. The job application letter is critical to your efforts to secure a job, perhaps as critical as your resume itself. For Project 1, your letter should be no longer than one or two pages (one is preferable in most cases), following the suggestions and models discussed during class. You must bring a hard copy of your cover letter rough draft on Friday, September 12. Your letter should be context-specific and should contain the required five parts (heading, greeting, opening, persuasion, closing) in the format shown in our text (the Rhetoric of the Job Application Letter and Types of Employment Documents) and in resources like the OWL.

Step 3Print-Based Resume. Your printable resume (one or more pages in length, depending upon the type of job and the depth of your experience) should adapt features drawn from the samples discussed in class or available for review at the Online Writing Lab. It's critical that you shape your resume to the specific job or internship you have chosen to apply for (that it's suited to the context), so be sure to include only the relevant aspects of your professional experience. As in the Job Application Letter, your writing needs to be error-free, concise, and presented in an easily readable format. The rough draft of your resume is due by midnight Monday, September 22 - that's right, midnight. E-mail it to me. We'll begin resume conferences on Tuesday.  Make sure to review the principles, guidelines, and resume samples in PW Online and the Resume PowerPoint, and attempt to apply the content and design guidelines to your resume.

 

Final Drafts of Cover Letter and Resume Due Monday, September 29.


 

Project 2: White Paper Project

Printer-friendly version (Word document)
Mac users may need to download this.

During the White Paper Project, you will learn to identify ethical, controversial, or technological issues or problems relevant to a professional setting, to research and synthesize information, and to present that information in an objective fashion which calls your audience to action. Although this project involves some individual elements, the majority of the project is the result of collaboration.

A white paper is an informative and definitive overview of a well-focused topic. White papers typically include an "Executive Summary," "Background Information," "Key Issues" or "Key Developments," "Resource List," and a number of other sections, depending on the nature of the subject matter (a chronology, remaining challenges, future prospects, etc.)


Project Summary

  • Groups of 3-4 members will be asked to do web-based and library research and then to write an informative white paper on methods for addressing (solutions) to a contemporary issue which may be ethical, controversial, or unresolved. For instance, you might examine p2p file sharing and copyright law, safety issues, identity theft, or a host of others.
  • This research will result in a visually sophisticated (well-designed) document of 1400-1800 words that presents findings to appropriate audience(s) and rhetorical situation(s). Ultimately, you will propose THREE solutions to your issue, in an even-handed way. This will not be a compare and contrast paper where you campaign for one of the solutions. Rather, you will advocate EQUALLY for all three solutions.
  • After producing the final draft of the white paper, groups will present their findings to the class in a brief and engaging oral presentation, complete with PowerPoint and handout(s).

 

Project Goals

This project emphasizes several important goals that all professional writers should bear in mind and that are consistent with those of the Professional Writing Program at Purdue. The White Paper Project emphasizes shaping research, writing, and design to very specific situations and purposes:

Writing in Context
Analyze professional cultures, social contexts, and audiences to determine how they shape the various purposes and forms of writing, such as persuasion, organizational communication, and public discourse.

Writing Process Develop and understand various strategies for planning, researching, drafting, revising, and editing documents that respond effectively and ethically to professional situations and audiences.

Collaboration
Learn and apply strategies for successful collaboration, such as working and communicating on-line with colleagues, setting and achieving project goals, and responding constructively to peers' work.

Research Understand and use various research methods to produce professional documents, including analyzing professional contexts, assessing and using information resources, and determining how various media and technologies affect and are affected by users and readers.

Technology Develop strategies for using and adapting various communication technologies to manage projects and produce informative and usable professional documents.

Document Design
Learn to argue with visual data, understanding and implementing various principles of format, layout, and design of professional documents that meet multiple user and reader needs.

Rhetorical Situation

The primary audience for your white paper consists of readers who are concerned in implementing solutions to the problem you are addressing (there are many levels of audience). Though they are experts in their field, their awareness of the issue and their familiarity with the technology and policies needed to address the issue will vary. The purpose of the white paper is to identify a problem and provide objective information which could lead to a solution if implemented.


Length and Format

The length of your white paper will depend somewhat on your choice of topics, but it should be within 1400-1800 words (formatting will vary based on the design employed by each group, but every white paper should be visually sophisticated.)

Your white paper should meet the following criteria:

  • Between 1400-1800 words in length
  • Include at least one graphic (with corresponding citation)
  • Professionally spiral-bound with a cardstock cover
  • Appropriate page numbers and headings
  • In-text citations for each item of supporting evidence
  • Contain the following elements:
    • Title page or heading on first page that gives all appropriate information
    • Table of contents, listing each major section
    • Table of figures (if the document contains four or more figures)
    • Executive summary which
      • Is written for a general audience
      • Presents the paper's highlights (no new information)
      • Identifies the issue or need leading to the report
      • Offers key facts, statistics, and findings (but don't get too detailed)
      • Includes a condensed conclusion (basically an overall statement)
      • Is concise (the above can be combined into the same sentences when need be, for instance)
    • Introduction
    • Background:
      • History of problem
      • Steps taken to address it
    • Discussion of three solutions
    • Conclusion
    • Works Cited (good databases to consult are ProQuest, LexisNexis, and CQ Researcher)

 

Deliverables

There will be both group and individual deliverables for this project.

Groups will be responsible for the following:

Group Deliverable 1: Proposal
Due Oct. 10

You will have the opportunity to review individual proposals on our course website and to discuss possibilities and form groups. Each group will turn in one hardcopy of a 250 word topic proposal, in the form of a memo. This memo will include information about the topic under consideration, the potential solutions to be examined, and possible resources. Follow the guidelines for memo writing outlined at Purdue's Owl and your text. Also consult the Good Header Hints. Remember that you are selling an idea -- this is a persuasive, not descriptive, document. This means presenting the problem or issue as worthy of consideration, and the solutions as relevant, while demonstrating the feasibility of the project within the parameters of the assignment.

Group Deliverable 2: Draft of White Paper
Due Oct. 22

Each group will be required to have at least 2, maximum 5 hardcopies of their white paper (must be printed before class) in class for peer review. Remember that a draft is a complete version.

Group Deliverable 3: Final Draft of White Paper
Due Oct. 31

Each group will be required to submit one hardcopy of their white paper. In addition to the print copy, each group will email me a PDF version of their white paper.

Group Deliverable 4: Presentation
Due Oct. 31

Each group will present their material to the class in a professional presentation. Presentations will run 10-12 minutes. They must include multimedia elements (such as the use of PowerPoint) and be accompanied by a handout (see guidelines). Each group member will be expected to take part in the presentation.  Consult Successful Presentation Guidelines as well.

Individuals within groups will be responsible for the following deliverables:


Individual Deliverable 1: Topic Proposal /Group Formation
Due Oct. 3

Each individual will post a 100-word project topic proposal related to one of the following areas to their blog by classtime Oct. 3:

The project topic will deal with a problem that arisen in any one of these areas. It can be a copyright problem, an industy problem, an artist problem, a privacy problem, an efficiency problem, an ethical problem... you name it.  You are not expected to SOLVE the problem now, only identify one.

You will post a blog entitled: Topic Proposal: [statement of problem].  For instance, if I were to choose the music area, I could write Topic Proposal:  Demo Versions of Artists' Songs Being Leaked Before Album Release.  Then, I would write at least 100 words explaining why that's a problem in my blog. I'd mention musicians' frustrations at unfinished work being "out there," how it could hurt them - maybe give an example such as the leakage of Guns N' Roses' tracks from Chinese Democracy.

By classtime Oct. 3, all the blogs will be posted on our site. In class, students will discuss their projects, respond to blogs and work out groups as directed for a final topic. Class will be in chat.

Individual Deliverable 2: Weekly Research & Work(b)logs
Updated at least once weekly, starting Oct. 6 and ending Oct. 31

Each individual will be required to keep a blog which a) records his/her research and b) details his/her contributions to the project. Each student will be expected to have four research posts with annotations. Work(b)logs will be updated every weekly until the project concludes.

Individual Deliverable 3: Peer Evaluation
Due Oct. 31

An important component of your project is successful collaboration. Each member will reflect on his/her participation in the project and on the experience of working in a group by completing the Peer Evaluation Form.


Grading

The White Paper Project breakdowns as follows:

Group Components

  •     Group Deliverable 1: Proposal: 10%
  •     Group Deliverable 2: White Paper Draft: 10%
  •     Group Deliverable 3: White Paper Final: 40%
  •     Group Deliverable 4: Presentation: 20%


Individual Components

  •     Individual Deliverable 1: Discussion Board/Topic Negotiation: 5%
  •     Individual Deliverable 2: Research & WorkBlog: 10%
  •     Individual Deliverable 3: Collaborative Project Assessment: 5%


Grading Criteria

When I assign a grade to your project, I will pay particular attention to see whether your white paper is informative and accurate and that you avoid as much as possible arguing a particular position. You should strive for a balance of perspectives and accurate coverage of a focused topic. The point is not to advocate for a position or "pamphleteer," but to establish a foundation of knowledge about the subject that future students and researches will find useful. I will also weigh your feedback on the Collaborative Project Assessment form in assigning a grade for your participation in the project.


 
More White Paper Resources:

Sample White Paper About White Papers

Sample Plain White Paper

Several Sample White Papers

Project 3: Recommendation Report

Objective: To be able to work as a team to research, analyze, and produce professional-level documents.

This recommendation report will evolve from your white paper. In your white paper, your group identified three solutions to your company’s problem. For the recommendation report, you will pick a single solution and recommend the company take that course of action. If you want to suggest a multi-pronged approach combining more than one of your solutions, that is acceptable; however, you will have to justify your reasoning to your company. Your job is to recommend a solution to the problem, or a course of action your client may take to ameliorate the problem.

The project will have two phases.

 

Phase One

In this phase of our project, we are concerned with developing strategies for project planning, which will culminate in the written recommendation report that will be the purpose of Phase Two. This will be more formal than our project planning for Project 2; this plan of action will be graded and will include a more structured duties chart.  However, it will follow similar principles of delegation.

Plan of Action: The plan of action must be in proper memo format as laid out in class (the same as our prior memos) and include the following in brief:

See also Example POA Memo (this does not include Gantt Chart)

The POA Memo will be worth 10% of your project grade.

Due Date for POA: Nov. 10

 

Phase Two

At this point, you should know your purpose, deadlines, and who is going to do which tasks. Now you are responsible for making that happen.

A successful recommendation report will:

  • Contain the required content components and information that we discuss in class such as executive summary, alternatives, etc.
  • Meet length requirements (3000-4000 words)
  • Use sources effectively, properly cited
  • Use tables and visuals effectively, properly cited (minimum two visuals)
  • Contain a very clear recommendation explaining exactly what the company needs to do to alleviate their problem
  • Explain why your solution works in detail
  • Explain why your solution is superior to other ideas
  • Suggest ways to deal with any problems or drawbacks that may arise from your solution, and/or why the recommendation works in spite of them
  • Give estimates as to cost, timetables, personnel required, software required, and other practical issues (see PowerPoint)
  • Specify exactly what the company needs to do to implement your solution
  • Have a logical organization
  • Have professional tone and no grammar errors/typos
  • Have professional design and presentation (once again, you are required to bind the final report)

 

Individual Deliverables:

  • Weekly (minimum) Individual Blogs that detail what you are doing on your own time (5% of project grade)
  • Final Group Member Evaluation (2% of project grade)

 

Group Deliverables:

  • Weekly (minimum) Group Blogs posted by group leader (5% of project grade)
  • A rough draft of the 3000-4000 word recommendation report (10% of project grade)
  • A final copy of the 3000-4000 word recommendation report (48% of project grade)
  • A 15-20 minute presentation that will include multimedia components (20% of project grade).  Please include a handout.

 

Due dates:

Nov. 10: Plan of Action Memo Due

Dec. 3: Rough Draft of Recommendation Report Due

Dec. 10: Final Copy of Recommendation Report Due

Dec. 10: Presentation Due