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Week of:
January 16
January 23
January 30
February 6
February 13
February 20
February 27
March 5
March 19
March 26
April 2
April 9
April 16
April 23
April 30
May 7

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Course Overview


In ETWR 2377 Advanced Business Communication, you study the theory and practice the skills necessary to effective written, oral and electronic communication in the modern business environment. Effective communication skills are essential to success in the workplace for accounting and other professionals. This course satisfies the communication requirement for students in the ATC-Professional Accounting program and other programs and contributes to student success in subsequent coursework as well as in their professions.

Instructor David McMurrey
Class meetings Northridge Campus 4209—Thursday 7:20pm-10:00pm
Office & hours Wednesday: Northridge Campus 4225 12:30pm-3:30pm
Thursday: Northridge Campus 4225 4:20pm-7:20pm
Phone 512.223.4804
E-mail davidm@austincc.edu
Week of January 16

Start-up. Let's get this course started by filling out the questionnaire, introducing ourselves to each other, reading about this course, and getting some background on business communication. (Your questionnaire information will be accessible by the instructor only.)

  • Read about the course: a description, its objectives, policies, and grading plan — due Jan. 19
  • Fill out the questionnairedue Jan. 19 (Your information will remain confidential, accessible by your instructor only.)

Blogs (WordPress). Develop your own blog for this course; in it, introduce yourself to the class, write your thoughts about each the chapters we read in the textbook, and comment on each other's blogs (at least one comment per chapter). We'll limit access to your blogs to just our class.

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week (do these as soon as you get the textbook):

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 8, "Writing Negative Messages." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Appendix A, "Format and Layout of Business Documents." Read the sections on letters, memos, envelopes. Skim enough of this appendix to make sure you know the format for these things.
  • Due date: Jan. 22 (no quiz on Appendix A)

Writing project: difficult situation—explain something complex. You have to explain something complex (if possible about something involving accounting or general business) to a client, work colleague, or supervisor. We'll discuss this project in class; it will be due next week at class time.

Writing tip of the week. Lots of people were asking whether "that" is needed in dependent clauses. Here's a good discussion: Is That That Really All That Necessary?.

Note. We'll fill out each class meeting with some combination of presentation and practice involving grammar and usage, document revision, peer reviews, plain language, thesis and topic sentences, transitions, and CPA exam writing practice. If you miss class, you can still make up the work we do in class and send it to me, but I will grade it and give it a percentage grade. Instead of 100% credit for attending class, you'll get whatever percentage you make.

Week of January 23

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 3, "Planning Business Messages." If you've already done this chapter, don't repeat! After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Jan. 29

Peer-reviewing strategies. We'll go over peer reviewing strategies in class.

Writing project: difficult situation—give a client bad news. Through no fault of your own and perhaps not even that of your client, you have a client or customer who is now facing a problem. That "something" must be of an accounting or general business nature. Your job is to break the bad news to your client or customer and explain the issue in terms that that person can understand.

Writing tip of the week. Lots of people wonder about whether to use a comma before "and" in a series of three or more items. Here's a good discussion: Using a Comma before And in a List.

Week of January 30

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 6, "Creating Messages for Electronic Media." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Feb. 5

Facebook website. In class, develop a practice site in Facebook for your professional presence or for a company. (You can delete the Facebook page but not its name—so be careful.) For your page, find an article about an accounting issue and pose a question in your post. Others will go to this Facebook page, read the article, and post a response to that question. After class, your assignment will be to set up a well-designed Facebook page for your own professional presence or an invented company.

  • See the details for this project at the following link: guide for developing a Facebook website.
  • Due date: Feb. 9 (Remember that this includes both the Facebook page and comments on others' Facebook pages.)

Writing tip of the week. Here is an enormous list of "errors," including how to think about using Chicano, Latino, and Hispanic: Common Errors in English Usage.

Week of February 6

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 9, "Writing Persuasive Messages." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Feb. 12

Writing tip of the week. Here's a good discussion on using just one space after a period: Grammar Girl on one space or two.

Week of February 13

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 7, "Writing Routine and Positive Messages"
  • After you read Chapter 7, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • When you get the textbook, take the reading quiz on chapter 7.
  • Due date: Feb. 19

Writing project: difficult situation—persuade an associate or client. You find that you must persuade your boss, a client, or fellow employees to do something or not do something. That "something" must be of an accounting or general business nature.

Writing tip of the week. Like it or not, whom will just not go away: Grammar Girl on who/whom. (Google who vs whom—you'll find lots of links.)

Week of February 20

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 10, "Understanding and Planning Reports and Proposals." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Feb. 26

Writing project: difficult situation—tell the boss no. Your boss has directed you to do something stupid, unethical, or even illegal (knowingly or unknowingly). Your job is to say no in writing. This situation must involve some aspect of accounting or general business practice.

  • See the details for this project at the following link: tell the boss no
  • Due date: due Mar. 1

Writing tip of the week. When should you write out a number; when should write it as a digit? Here's what The Blue Book says: http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/category/numbers/. Also see what the Grammar Girl says: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-how-to-write-numbers.aspx.

Week of February 27

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 4, "Writing Business Messages." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Mar. 4

Writing project: policies and procedures. Learn the standard content, structure, format, and writing style for policy and procedure documents; and then write policies and procedures of your own involving an accounting or general business situation. This will be a team project.

  • See the details for this project at the following link: guide for writing policies and procedures
  • Due date: Mar. 8 If you need some spring break to complete this project, you can have it. Just don't blame me for ruining your spring break! :o)

Writing tip of the week. Sorry, you can't escape the need to use hyphens. Here's what dear old Purdue OWL has to say: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/576/01/.

Week of March 8

Continue working on your policies and procedures. Remember that if you need some spring break to complete this project, you can have it. Just don't blame me for ruining your spring break! :o)

Writing tip of the week. Is it okay to use contractions? Lynn Gaertner-Johnson has a good discussion: Don't Use Contractions?. Grammar Girl has some interesting history as well as advice: Contractions.

Week of March 19

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 1, "Understanding Business Communication in Today's Workplace." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date on both: Mar. 25

Writing project: difficult situation—admit a mistake. You have discovered that you have made a pretty serious mistake involving accounting or general business. Your job is write about this to your boss or to whomever it is relevant.

  • See the details for this project at the following link: admit a mistake
  • Due date: due Mar. 29

Writing tip of the week. Is it that or which? That vs. Which. Provided by dailywritingtips.com.

Week of March 26

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 11, "Writing and Completing Reports and Proposals." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date on both: Apr. 5

Proposals: Learn the standard content, structure, format, and writing style for proposal as well as the two basic types of proposals; and then write one of your own involving an accounting or general business situation. Let's find a practicing accountant who can talk to us about features of accounting-specific proposals. (We will do this project in teams, the same teams that did the policies and procedures or teams set up this week.)

See the details for this project at the following link: guide for writing proposalsdue Apr. 12

Writing tip of the week. The Seven (Bogus) Nevers of Writing: 7 Grammatical Errors That Aren't. Provided by dailywritingtips.com.

Week of April 2

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 2, "Mastering Team Skills and Interpersonal Communication." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you do the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Apr. 5

Writing tip of the week. What's the deal with affect and effect? Affect vs. Effect. Provided by dailywritingtips.com. And while you are there, check out Archives for the "Misused Words" Category.

Week of April 9

Microblogs (Twitter). From the rough draft of your recommendation report, extract some chunk of information of interest to accounting professionals or clients. There will be a recording of this class meeting. — due Apr. 19

See the details for this project at the following link: guide for developing a microblogging activity.

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 5, "Completing Business Messages." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you write the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Apr. 12

Writing tip of the week. Is it data is or data are? Is "Data" Singular or Plural?. See what Grammar Girl has to say about it.

Week of April 16

Recommendation reports: Learn the standard content, structure, format, and writing style for recommendation reports (our analytical report of choice); and then write one of your own involving a general business or accounting situation.

See the details for this project at the following link: guide for writing recommendation reports.

  • Initial draft due: due May 10
  • Final draft due: due May 14

Writing tip of the week. How to use i.e. and e.g.: I.e. Versus E.g. Of course, some styles say to avoid these two things altogether.

Week of April 23

Readings and quizzes. Here's the textbook work for this week:

  • Bovée and Thill, Business Communication Essentials, Chapter 12, "Developing Oral and Online Presentations." After you read this chapter, in your blog discuss what you heard that was new to you, only vaguely familiar to you, or just flat wrong. You are also welcome to summarize key points in the chapter. Keep this brief (unless you want lots of writing practice), but use your best writing skills.
  • Well before you do the project for this week, take the reading quiz on this chapter.
  • Due date: Apr. 29

Writing tip of the week. Why can't I use they, them, their to refer to singular nouns? Generic Singular Pronouns. See what Grammar Girl has to say about this pesky topic. There are hundreds of comments!

Week of April 30

Open for catch-up and team work.

Oral presentations: With your team, prepare an oral presentation hitting the highlights of your recommendation report. Present this oral presentation as a team to the real or invented audience you did this work for.

See the details for this project at the following link: guide for developing the oral presentationdue May 10

Writing tip of the week. Hopefully: Starting a Sentence With "Hopefully". Provided by Grammar Girl.

Week of May 7

Oral presentations: Let's do the presentations tonight.

Use this form for oral report evaluations.

View the oral report evaluations.

View evaluations and averages by teams: oral report evaluations.

Recommendation reports:

  • Initial draft — due May 10
  • Final draft — due May 14
Informal course evaluation. Help me improve this course.

Course evaluation form




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