Practical Writing

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CMNS 1115
Practical Writing
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

This course will emphasize learning through doing.  Working individually and in groups, students will be involved in the discussion, analysis and interpretation of various workplace-writing activities and case studies.  Under the instructor's guidance, students will integrate the results of primary or secondary research with correct language principles in a wide variety of workplace writing -- summaries, memoranda, letters and reports.  Other methods include lectures, group discussions and possibly field trips.

Course Description
This course helps to prepare students for the complex writing tasks required in the workplace. Students learn rhetorical and genre theory and practise reader-based strategies for writing clear and concise workplace documents. This involves learning to differentiate between the different aims or purposes of workplace writing, analyzing and practising the conventions for achieving these purposes, and creating readable documents in a variety of written genres. Students also learn and practise the basic research skills of identifying, summarizing, and citing appropriate sources.
Course Content

Foundational Theory in Rhetoric and Genre

  • rhetorical situation and scenario
  • audience
  • purposes
  • exigence
  • genre
  • the three persuasive appeals
  • persuasive arrangements (direct and indirect)

Communication Skills

  • tone and diction appropriate to specific writing situation
  • connectedness and coherence at paragraph- and text-level
  • organizational strategies
  • clarity and conciseness
  • headings and layout
  • format
  • procedures for conducting primary and secondary research, and communicating the results of such research.

Writing Tasks 

  • Business Letters
  • Memoranda  e.g. proposal, progress
  • Summary
  • Major Report (1500 - 2500 words requiring research and analysis)
  • Job Package.
Learning Outcomes

The students will become aware of the need for, and learn to appreciate the value of clear, concise, courteous prose as an indispensable communications tool in business.

Special Course Objectives

By the end of the course, the students will be able to

  1. articulate the key concepts of foundational theory in rhetoric and genre: rhetorical situation and scenario, audience, motivation, exigence, genre, the three persuasive appeals, persuasive arrangements (direct and indirect)
  2. apply these concepts in analysis of workplace documents and in the production of their own workplace documents.
  3. use the correct language fundamentals in all written assignments
  4. use precise word choice in all written assignments
  5. interpret and summarize relevant business readings
  6. prepare memoranda consistent with professional standards and practice
  7. write effective business correspondence in a variety of relevant situations consistent with professional writing standards and practice
  8. prepare written reports using language conventions consistent with professional writing standards
  9. demonstrate report-writing style and format consistent with professional writing standards and practice
  10. perform primary or secondary research and analyze it for relevant date
  11. prepare a correctly written report using primary and secondary source materials relevant to the student’s major program
  12. demonstrate an understanding of correct format and bibliographical methods in appropriate written assignments
  13. work effectively with other students in group projects
  14. accept, provide and learn from courteous and objective criticism.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on this general outline:

Research Report 20-25%
Job Package 10-20%
Other writing tasks geared to improving workplace writing efficacy(at least 4 evaluations) 60%
Textbook Materials

Texts such as the following:

  • Successful Writing at Work, (Kolin)
  • Business Communications: Strategies and Skills, (Huseman, et al)
  • Technical Writing: A Reader-Centered Approach, (Anderson)
  • Any College entrance Language Proficiency Requirement EXCEPT the Douglas College Course Options in ELLA or ENGU, OR
  • a minimum grade of C- in ELLA 0460, or a minimum grade of C- in both ELLA 0465 and 0475, OR
  • a minimum grade of C- in ENGU 0450 or ENGU 0455 or ENGU 0490