Real-World Applications of the Long Report, pt. 4

Realistic frustrations

These real problems brought into the classroom have led the students to experience some of the frustrations our “clients” have felt: the inadequacy of available data, lack of expertise in composing questionnaires, receiving minimal response to those questionnaires, finding they have proposed unworkable solutions, and having to be more creative in their search for data and solutions.

Writing as learning evidence

These frustrations have provided evidence for Applebee’s theory of writing as learning because the structure has required explicitness and the medium is permanent and the students have used their reports to discuss alternative methodology and solutions. They have often found creative innovations which have made for interesting and useful final recommendations. In writing these reports the students have discovered that the formats they have learned have real business uses.

Ideas for involving the business community

There are many ways of involving the community in the business writing class. Presenting the principles of various types of business writing in such a way that the substance is a real business writing issue and as important as the form has been very successful. The use of this idea in the long report sequence has already been discussed. It is equally effective for other types of business writing.

Memos outlining policies of gender neutral language, after a presentation of the idea by a business leader, involve the students in business writing issues as well as business writing formats.
Complaint letters involving real situations which have frustrated the students are useful. When the final version and a copy are turned in, the students also present a stamped addressed envelope. Then the letters are mailed by the professor. Often students will bring in the responses they receive later in the semester. This gives everyone, including the students who have not received a response, the knowledge that letters do make a difference.

Good news letters can be written as compliments for good service received. Like the complaint letters, these letters can be mailed by the professor and are often replied to by the management.

Job search information to be used in the writing of resumes and application letters can be garnered from interviews with a person in the same field and/or at the same company after information from printed materials has been exhausted. This interview allows the student to get a better idea of the area she is entering and it also publicizes the concern of the university in the business community.

Interview thank you letters can be written.

Through these formats, which we teach in business writing classes, we can be involved meeting community needs and involve the community in meeting the needs of our students.

Problems and responses in the long report sequence

PROBLEM: Sophomores with insufficient work experience to complete the long report sequence.
RESPONSE: Create class projects which do not presume work experience.

PROBLEM: Unrealistic expectations in first versions of proposals.
RESPONSE: Peer editing allowed the students to revision for themselves using other students’ goals as models.

PROBLEM: Group unable to reach competitor for price lists.
RESPONSE: Contacted competitors in demographically similar towns.

PROBLEM: Ethical question of asking for price lists for a reason other than possible use of the service.
RESPONSE: Arranged for contact person to be someone who did plan on using a wedding videography service.

PROBLEM: Unrealistic expectations in first versions of proposals.
RESPONSE: Peer editing allowed the students to revision for themselves using other students’ goals as models.

PROBLEM: Groups in two different classes working on same aspect of the project. Potential for duplication.
RESPONSE: On their own groups initiated different approaches.

PROBLEM: Project determined unprofitable while in the progress report stage.
RESPONSE: Group came up with radically different possibility for the service, though not for the client.

PROBLEM: Low return rate for questionnaires.
RESPONSE: Noted. Conjectured possible reason: volatility.

Work Cited

Applebee, Arthur N. “Writing and Reasoning.” Review of Educational Research 54 (4):577-96.

Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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