Spring 2004 Syllabus
English 461: Professional Writing

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College


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Professor's Office Hours and Contact Information


This course is "designed to reinforce and extend undergraduate writing competency and to advance students to the composition proficiency demanded in business and other professions and in graduate programs.  Students study and write expository and persuasive forms such as letters, memoranda, reports, and proposals" (Ferrum College Catalog 2003-2004).


Philip C. Kolin, Successful Writing at Work, 7th ed., 2004. Houghton Mifflin web site for this text

You may be asked to read some articles or other documents that will be available online, on library reserve, or on course handouts.

Assignments, Grades

Your final grade for the course will be determined according to the following percentages:

Quizzes/Homework 10%
Problem/solution letters (2 x 1 page)   5%
Abstract and cover letter  (200-250 words) 5%
Resume, cover letter, mock interview       10%
Instructional essay  w/ graphical elements (500 words) 10%
News release (250 words) 10%
Encyclopedia article/web page (500 words)    10%

Memo to accompany proposal (100-150 words)

Proposal w/ graphical elements (10-12 pages)

PowerPoint presentation on proposal topic (10-15 min.)




Some reading quizzes will be required from the Houghton Mifflin web site for your textbook, in the section called ACE Self-Tests. Remember that cheating on these quizzes when they are submitted for credit is a violation of the Ferrum College Honor Code. And guessing the correct answers without reading first will not always give you good results. (I only got 70% when I took the first quiz before reading chapter 1, and I've been teaching writing for 28 years.)

See the college catalog for more information on writing requirements and the grading system. Be sure you are familiar with the Ferrum College Foundation Standards. As this is a 400-level English course and English 102 is a prerequisite, you are expected to be proficient in the basic skills of writing, research, and editing required in English 102. If you find that you are weak in any basic skills as the course begins, consult me right away and look over chap. 2 in Kolin and the last section, A Brief Writer's Guide to Paragraphs, Sentences, and Words. We will review basic editing and proofreading skills in class as the need arises, and there will be at least one proofreading quiz for the whole class.

Attendance and Classroom Requirements

Attendance at all classes is necessary for satisfactory progress in the work of the course. Accumulating more than four unexcused absences may lower your final grade by as much as one letter grade. Ferrum College policy mandates that anyone who misses one-fourth of the class meetings (i.e., 7 T-Th classes) cannot receive credit for a course. (See the college catalog, pp. 39-42.) Anyone who needs to withdraw from the course with a WP between Feb, 7 and the 10th week must be in good standing, with all course work completed to that date. Anyone who withdraws then while not in good standing (with excessive absences, failing grades, or incomplete assignments) will receive a grade of WF, or F after the 10th week. It is your responsibility to inform the professor (preferably in advance) and arrange for make-up work if you have a legitimate reason for missing a class. Make-up tests will be given only in the case of extreme emergency and may be different in format from the test the rest of the class takes.

Arriving late is discourteous to other class members and could result in your being marked absent for the day. You are encouraged to participate in class discussion and ask questions at any time during class, but you are expected to respect the needs and rights of others by not talking while others are talking or distracting others in the class in any way.

Honor Code

Our Honor Code applies to all work submitted for credit in this course. Plagiarism or any other form of cheating on papers, reports, homework, or quizzes will result in severe penalties, which may include failure of the course. You are responsible for reading and understanding the Ferrum College Honor Policy, and for avoiding the undocumented use of the words or ideas of others in your assignments.

Conferences, Composition Center

You are encouraged to discuss questions, problems and ideas with me at any time in individual conferences. The Composition Center in the lower level of the library, which is available to students working on any writing project, is staffed by English faculty members in the afternoons and by student tutors at other times. You may drop by the center on your own for assistance with any aspect of your work, or you may want to make an appointment with a student tutor. I would be happy to read drafts of assigned papers in advance of the due date, but remember that the Composition Center is available to all students on campus on a first-come-first-served basis, and on busy days it may be impossible to read through long papers in detail. You are welcome to drop by my office any time, but make an appointment first if you want me to read a draft of an essay.

Other staff members in the Academic Resources Center are available to help with a variety of student needs relating to reading, language skills, test-taking and other study skills. The Composition Center web page contains links to a wide variety of online resources for college and professional writers.

Special Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids will be available for any qualified student with a disability in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As early in the semester as possible, you are encouraged to notify the instructor and Ms. Nancy Beach, Director of Disability Services in ARC 111. Instructors are not allowed to discuss individual accommodations in public or ask individual students to make use of them. Qualified students may request these services and must follow the reasonable guidelines required by the school (such as arranging at least 48 hours in advance for any special accommodations for a scheduled test), or you will lose your right to take advantage of these services.

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