Welcome to BUS 370

Integrated Communication in Business is designed to expand students’ understanding of the complexities of oral and written communication in business. Individual and team projects will provide practical experience in the development of effective oral and written communication that reflects upon the students’ ability to analyze an audience, adapt to the audience, and develop persuasive communication strategies reflecting the integration of written, oral, visual, and electronic modes of communication.

BUS 370 fulfills the Western Michigan University baccalaureate-writing requirement and is to be completed in Stage 3 of the BBA degree program, the junior year. The prerequisite is junior standing.

This Syllabus

Read this syllabus carefully. It is a legal contract. It specifies what you need to do to earn a grade in BUS 370 and covers the procedures you need to follow.

If you have any questions at all about the procedures and directions provided here, ask them before the related assignment is due rather than after I have evaluated your solution.

University Information

You will find important information about your University computer account, computer usage, and other University news and information (including email addresses, student grade reports, and scheduled downtimes for WMU computer systems) at the following URL: http://vms.cc.wmich.edu

To avoid missing critical deadlines as a result of scheduled computer downtime, be sure to check it often.

Contact Information

Office:    3322 Schneider Hall Class Schedule and Office Hours
Phone:   387-5358 Fax:   387-5710
Email:  joel.bowman@wmich.edu Best times for rapid response: Late afternoon and early evening

Text and Materials

  1. The BUS 370 home page: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~bowman/bus370.html. Provides links to this syllabus, to the electronic conferences for this course, and to other course information.

  2. This syllabus and your schedule of assignments are available at the following URL: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~bowman/syl370.html .

  3. Bowman, J. P. Business Communication: Managing Information and Relationships (MIR). MIR is your text for the course. These materials are currently available at the following URL: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~bowman/mir.html

    You may print the MIR materials for ease of use. Students often put the MIR materials in a three-ring binder for easy accessibility.

  4. Branchaw and Bowman, The Delmar Reference Manual: Essentials for the Electronic Office. Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers, 1994. If you already have a good reference manual, you may use it instead of The Delmar Reference Manual. Make sure that your reference manual includes both a guide to English usage and formats for letters, memos, and business reports.

  5. A good dictionary. In addition to using a dictionary to check your spelling, you may need it to ensure that you are using words the way most people expect them to be used. Faulty diction (words used incorrectly) and poor word choice (words used inappropriately) are common problems in written communication.

  6. A WMU computer account, convenient access to a computer, and computer disks as needed for your work and for back-up copies of your important files. Make sure that you use your main WMU email account for your course work. Your main email account is the one where your email ends up if you send it to username@wmich.edu —check to make sure that email sent to that address ends up in the account you plan to use most often.

General Requirements and Procedures

To be successful in this class, you will need to use a number of computer applications, including

Spreadsheet, database, and graphic abilities are helpful but not required. I will keep a record of your grades in a spreadsheet file, and I recommend that you do the same. The short report you will complete will require the collection of both secondary and primary data, and using a spreadsheet or database to record information will simplify the process of analyzing it, performing statistical analysis, and drawing conclusions. The report will also require at least two graphic aids, so an understanding of how to construct tables and charts will be helpful.

Procedures for Electronic Conferencing

To access the electronic conferences for the class, use your Web browser to authenticate your WMU computer account at the following URL: http://vms.cc.wmich.edu/www/confer/

Enter the username for your unified account and your assigned password. If you are new to the WMU computer system, the first time you log on you will be informed that your password has expired and that you need to select a new one.

Once you have selected a new password and verified it by typing it a second time, go to the Confer program and click on the “Authenticate now” button. Once you have authenticated your account, the Main Menu will appear.

On the Main Menu, enter BUS370-DISC or BUS370-CASES in the space provided for the conference name. Click on the “Join Conference” button. Do this for both conferences. When you join BUS370-DISC, provide a brief personal introduction, focusing on your major, minor, year in school, and outside interests. The personal introduction is not required for BUS370-CASES, which is intended to be a read-only conference.

The Main Menu page also provides a pull-down menu that offers you a variety of tools for using the conferences, including “Edit” commands for item entries and responses, a “Find” command that allows you to search a conference for specific information, and a command that allows you to change your “Personal Customizations.”

Once you have joined both conferences, you will be able to check for new conference postings by clicking on the “Check Activity” button on the Main Menu. The Activity Page will report new activity on both conferences for you. Be sure to read all the initial items.

Procedures for Email

You may use any standard email client, including WebMail (or BroncoMail), which is available at the following URL: http://webmail.wmich.edu for access to your email. From your home computer, you may prefer to use the email client in (or with) your Web browser. University Computing Services has flyers available to help you configure your home computer and software so that they will work correctly with the University’s computer system. Make sure that you know your designated WMU email address.

If you absolutely must use another email account, send a copy of the message to yourself at your WMU account, and provide your full name and official WMU email username in the body of the message. I will send course-related email to your WMU account unless you provide me with an excellent reason for sending it elsewhere.

NOTE: To receive credit for your postings on BUS370-DISC and to access BUS370-CASES, you must use your official WMU account. Except in stated emergencies, this is the only account from which I will accept course-related email and to which I will send course-related email.

The disk space allocated for your WMU account is limited. For this reason, be sure to download (transfer to your own hard drive, floppy disk, or paper) messages and other files you wish to save, and delete/expunge files from the WMU server on a regular basis. When you have used the space allocated to your account (“exceeded disk quota”), you will not be able to send or receive email from the account.

Success in BUS 370

One of the difficulties of teaching a course in communication is that those who take the class have been communicating most of their lives, often with considerable success. It is easy to believe that one is already an “expert” in the subject and therefore shouldn’t have to work especially hard to learn whatever might be new.

This view is deceptive for two reasons. First, most of those who enter BUS 370 have grown up in a time when the fundamentals of English usage were not taught in most elementary and high schools. This means that, at the time students should be learning about the nuances of usage, many are still struggling with the basics. If, for example, you do not have a good understanding of the differences between dependent (subordinate) and independent clauses, it will be difficult for you to control emphasis and subordination in your sentences.

Second, because students often have a high degree of confidence in their skills as communicators, this class is often put on the “back burner,” which encourages procrastination. Because BUS 370 has numerous small assignments rather than three or four major ones, however, this is not a good class in which to procrastinate. Also, the assignments are arranged so that each builds on the previous one: What you learn in solving Case 1 will also apply to Case 2, and so on.

To ensure that you end up with the grade you desire at the end of the semester, do the following:

Written Assignments

Most of your assignments are available on BUS370-CASES. They include a series of short cases requiring letters or memos, a short written report (a group assignment), and a job application package. Other assignments include a group presentation for the short report, an individual PowerPoint presentation, and electronic discussion on BUS370-DISC.

To complete these assignments successfully, you may need to look in four places for information to ensure that you are following the relevant directions and understand the requirements.

This syllabus will typically provide general information about the assignments and the procedures for completing them, while the information on BUS 370-CASES will provide specific instructions. You will also need to have read the relevant information in the course materials (Managing Information and Relationships) and the related information on BUS370-DISC.

You may also need to check your reference manual to ensure that you are using the correct format for the document and that your fundamentals of usage (grammar and mechanics) are correct.

In general, your assignments will be due at class time on the stated date. Work submitted after that time will be considered late and will be penalized based on the degree of lateness and the reason for it.

Letters and Memos

Because BUS 370 is the baccalaureate writing course for most students taking it, a significant portion of this class is devoted to developing your abilities to apply a variety of communication skills in situations requiring short written messages in letter, memo, and electronic format. For this part of the class, you will solve five cases requiring specific message types for their solutions. The cases and the background information for them are available on BUS370-CASES. See the Schedule of Assignments for the specific due dates for each of the cases.

Although the cases are somewhat artificial in that if you were actually doing something similar for an organization, you might substitute a phone call for all or some of the communication necessary. Each of the cases, however, is designed to test your understanding of certain concepts and your ability to use language in specific ways. The first case, for example, tests your ability to format a letter correctly and to ask good questions. Use your solution to the case to show me that you can do those things (and the other things specified in the directions).

You will do each of the cases twice, once as a group exercise (20 points) and once individually (50 points). You will need to be present and participate in the group work on the cases to earn points for the group solution.

Even though you may work with others on your individual solutions to the cases, each person’s solution needs to be different. If solutions are too similar, those who have submitted similar solutions may need to revise their work before receiving a grade, or I will simply divide the points between (or among) those submitting similar solutions.

Individual Presentation, Memo, and PowerPoint Support

You will be responsible for a short—3 to 5 minute—oral presentation covering your preparation for the career of your choice, including what you have learned from your academic and employment history and from your extracurricular activities that has provided you with a foundation for career success. Use this assignment as a way to prepare for employment interviews.

To do well with this assignment, you will need to be able to speak comfortably and confidently about your career preparation without extensive reference to notes for 3 to 5 minutes. Focus on the positive aspects of what you have learned from your education and work experience:

In addition to the presentation, you will submit a one- or two-page memo using one level of heading summarizing the content of your presentation. You will also submit a PowerPoint handout in support of your presentation. Print the handout form only, putting three or four slides on a page. You should have no more than six slides, including an introductory slide showing your name and the career for which you are preparing.

The PowerPoint file that accompanies your presentation should provide an outline for what you say. Each slide should have a title and a combination of major and minor points. The PowerPoint presentation serves two purposes: First, it shows me that you know how to use PowerPoint in support of an oral presentation, and, second, it shows me that you understand the rules for outlining and heading use—something you will need for the short report and PowerPoint (and similar) presentations in the future.

The Short Report (The Group Project)

The short report will be a team assignment requiring group problem solving, collaborative writing, and peer evaluation. The specific assignment is available on BUS370-CASES. You will need to coordinate your efforts using designated time in class, electronic mail (including email attachments), electronic conferencing, and perhaps the telephone. Although you may elect to meet outside of class to discuss this assignment, such meetings are neither required nor necessary to do well.

This assignment includes a written report of 5 to 7 pages and an oral presentation approximately 10 minutes long. Both the written report and the oral presentation need to be done collaboratively—everyone needs to contribute to the writing of the report, and everyone needs to speak during the presentation.

Every group meeting, whether on a designated class day or outside of class, requires both an agenda establishing specific objectives for the meeting and minutes detailing the group’s progress toward meeting the objectives. Group members are required to rotate the responsibilities for agenda and minutes. You will submit these in draft form as you go along and include both the original, marked copies and revised and corrected copies as an attachment accompanying the completed report.

Part of your grade on this assignment will be determined by the evaluation of your performance by the other members of your group using a Team Evaluation Form. Before your group begins working, you may wish to download a copy of the form and become familiar with the principal criteria for the group’s evaluation of the individual members.

Each team will submit one completed copy of the evaluation form along with the report, and every team member needs to know how the team evaluated his or her performance. Team members should keep a written record of who assumed responsibility for which aspects of the report, who attended meetings, and who contributed to group discussion of the case and its solution.

One of the principal difficulties in group work—whether in class or on the job—is social loafing, the idea that others in the group will pick up the slack for the one who “loafs.” One of the reasons that HCOB has instituted so much group work over the past few years is to help groups develop strategies for developing high-functioning teams in which everyone contributes to the group objective. Be sure to track your own contributions to the group effort and those of others. Be prepared to use both your published agenda and the minutes of your meetings to defend and/or explain the scores on the Team Evaluation Form.

The Job Package

Your job package will consist of the following items assembled in the following order:

Prepare the planning resume, the letter of application, and the postinterview follow-up letter as though you were a graduating senior, dating all materials appropriately for the month and year of your anticipated graduation.

You may submit these materials as often as you like for my review and suggestions before the due date. Please read the appropriate materials in MIR before submitting your work, and be especially careful to avoid the temptation to copy the examples in MIR for this assignment. Also, consider that the closer we get to the end of the semester, the less time I will have to review job application materials before the due date.

Each time you submit your job package or a portion of it (such as the resume) for my review, attach a copy of the directions for the assignment so that we can both be sure that you are meeting the requirements of the assignment.

Electronic Conferencing

Throughout the semester, you will be required to participate in BUS370-DISC, an electronic conference that will serve as a supplement to class discussion. Consider your writing on the conference professional, and follow all the appropriate rules for spelling, grammar, mechanics, formatting, message structure, and appropriate business writing style.

To receive credit for your postings, use your official WMU account to join BUS370-DISC and BUS370-CASES and indicate that account as your email address as well.

Use the conference to discuss topics relevant for course discussion. I will enter certain specific items, and you may respond to those, respond to other existing items, or enter your own items. You may use the conference to ask questions about course topics and assignments or to ask about or comment on something you read in MIR or a communication issue in the news.

You may also use the conference to discuss other issues of importance to you, although depending on the nature of the entry, some items and responses may be ineligible for conferencing points.

NOTE: Your first conference entry is due by midnight on Friday, 3 September. To earn full credit (10 points) for your first entry, you will need to do the following:

  1. Be a response to the designated item on BUS370-DISC. Use only the item I will have entered for this purpose for your posting.

  2. Write two short (about 5 lines each) paragraphs relatively free from errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and formatting. Avoid “freeway” spelling (such as thru for through) and IM spelling (such as ICU for I’ll see you).

  3. Your first paragraph should cover your background in communication classes, with emphasis on the writing classes you have taken.

  4. Your second paragraph should provide the reasons you think you will do well in BUS 370.

I will evaluate your subsequent conference entries and responses according to the following criteria:

Please read the information already available to you before you post your question. If I have already covered the topic in the syllabus, in MIR, in the directions for the case, or elsewhere on the conference, I will typically refer you to that material rather than answer the same question repeatedly. When you ask a question, show me what you have already read and indicate what you do not yet understand. The conference is a supplement to rather than a substitute for your doing the required reading.

Also, observing the rules of threaded discussions will be an important factor in the value of your postings. If an item already exists on a particular subject, for example, starting a new item on the same subject is a violation of those rules because it increases the difficulty of finding information about that subject. I will typically freeze items that replicate existing items, and frozen items receive no points.

You may post portions of your solutions to assignments for my comments and comments by others in the class. Note that when you post portions of your assignments, general questions (such as “What’s wrong with the following letter?”) will produce general (vague) answers. Specific questions are required for specific answers:

Not this: Please comment on my solution to Case 1.
Not this: Please comment on my closing for Case 1.
Not this: What can I do to improve my opening for Case 1?
Ask this: My opening for Case 1 seems to contain sufficient positive tone
and you-attitude, but it also contains passive voice. How can I
change it to active voice and retain the you-attitude?

Avoid redundancy and clutter. Duplicate postings of a solution (or partial solution) to a case containing only minor revisions are not eligible for points.

Although you may earn at least some points for entries and responses on a wide variety of topics, correctly formatted, well-written, course-related materials, that follow the accepted rules for threaded discussions will be worth the most points. Check the course schedule for the dates by which you are to complete conference entries for a specific evaluation period. You may earn points in advance of the due dates, but if you fall too far behind, you may lose points in this category unnecessarily.

As the semester progresses, I will expect higher quality postings that increasingly reflect the skills you have been learning, so the standards are applied more stringently during each evaluation period.

Scheduled Work and Due Dates

Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates listed on the course schedule. Plan your time accordingly. Except in unusual circumstances, late assignments—regardless of the reason—will not be eligible for full credit. You will have sufficient opportunity throughout the semester to earn bonus points to make up for some late work.

Also, to receive credit, any late assignment must be accompanied by a memo stating the reason(s) the work is late. If the reason for late work is “personal,” that’s all you need to say. If you have something that might influence whether I deduct points for lateness, tell me that.

Warnings about Formatting and other Odds & Ends

Avoid allowing Microsoft Word to format assignments for you. The formatting subroutines in Word produce too many errors. This is especially true for listed items (as will be required for Cases 1 and 3). Check your vertical spacing carefully. If you allow Microsoft to format for you (using Word’s letter form or Autospacing), your vertical spacing will be incorrect.

Make sure that you know how to do second-page headings using the header function in Word—this is one formatting function worth using, and you will need to know how to use it correctly. Note that to ensure that the second- page header appears only on the second and subsequent pages, you need to go to the Page Setup (under File on the Menu Bar), select “Layout,” and click on the box for making the first page different.

Unlike classes in which you are evaluated on the basis of a few major exams or projects, BUS 370 requires daily attention to numerous small assignments. For this reason, it is especially important for you to make every effort to keep up—follow the posted schedule unless we specifically discuss and agree to a change in dates or assignments. Check your email (especially your official WMU email address) and the electronic conferences regularly.

I will post important class information, including special instructions about some assignments and information about possible extra credit, on BUS370-DISC. Keeping up to date with email and the class conference is as important as attendance.

Summary of Assignments and Points

               Assignment Points
Individual Solutions to Cases—5 @ 50250
Group Solutions to Cases—5 @ 20100
Presentation, Memo, and PowerPoint Support100
Short (Team) Report and Oral Presentation250
Job Package150
Conference Entries50
Final Exam100



Because this is a communication class, your attendance and participation are important. Participation in course-related discussion on BUS370-DISC is an important part of your contribution to class. What you post on the conference shows me (and everyone else on the conference) your understanding of course material and ability to express yourself in writing.

Tutoring and Academic Integrity

Most of your assignments are essentially tests in that they are designed to evaluate what you have learned about applying a particular concept in the same way an in-class exam would test for certain knowledge. You may ask questions about the assignments in class and on Confer BUS370-DISC before the assignment is due.

Asking me to review or “pregrade” these assignments privately before you submit them, however, is the same as requesting “tutoring,” which is against University policy. It is essentially the same as asking a professor to tell you the right answers for an exam while you are taking it. For this reason, I will not review assignments with you before you submit them other than to answer specific questions in class or on Confer BUS370-DISC. I will be glad to discuss graded assignments with you after I have returned them.

In general, you may work on your assignments with others, whether by getting together in small groups or by participating in the online discussion. The work you submit, however, must be your own. Avoid the temptation to copy someone else’s work, whether that work has been posted on the conference, or whether you have seen someone else’s solution to an assignment. Make sure that your work is your own, and do not allow others to copy it. If two individuals submit highly similar solutions to an assignment, both will receive reduced scores.

You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog that pertain to Academic Integrity (pp. 271-272). These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity, and computer misuse.

If I have reason to believe that you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty before the submission of an assignment or test.

Last-Day-of-Classes Policy

The last day of classes is Friday, 3 December 2004. All your course work—including any material you are submitting for extra credit—is due no later than your scheduled class time on that date. Except for the final exam, materials submitted after the last day of class are not eligible for credit.

Final Exam Policy

Your final exam will be due by noon on Wednesday, 8 December 2004. You are required to submit a final exam to earn credit in the course. The final exam is worth 100 points, so be aware of how many points you will need on the final to earn the grade you desire. Even if you already have sufficient points for the grade you desire, you must submit an exam to earn credit in the course.

Personal Responsibility Policy

You are responsible for reading the materials and staying current with postings on the class conference. You are also responsible for keeping track of your assignments and progress in this course. Save all your graded assignments so that you will have a complete record of your scores. Send yourself copies of all email you send to me. Keep a record of your conference entries and replies.

You are responsible for knowing your official WMU email address and for maintaining that account so that you do not exceed your allocated disk space and can use that account for sending and receiving email.

If you find yourself having trouble in this class, you are responsible for talking to me about the nature of your difficulty while you still have time to do something about it. If you wait until the last week of class to bring difficulties to my attention, it may be too late.

I will post your grades and class standing on BUS370-CASES on a regular basis, usually following significant assignments. You are responsible for checking your grades and informing me of any errors in your record. Note: You must use your class account to access BUS370-CASES and your grades.

You are responsible for information presented on the class conference and announcements I send to your official University email account. Check your email and Confer BUS370-DISC on a regular basis.

You are responsible for reading the course materials and for asking questions about material that you don’t understand. You are responsible for correcting any deficiencies in your English fundamentals, as we will not spend much time reviewing material covered in previous classes.

You are responsible for making sure that I receive your assignments on time and in an acceptable format.

Opportunities for Bonus Points

Throughout the semester, you will have a variety of opportunities to earn bonus points in addition to those previously mentioned. I typically award bonus points for the following sorts of things:

In most cases, to earn the bonus points for extra-credit work, you will need to submit a hard copy (paper) of the item you wish to have considered. I will mark the points you have earned and return a copy to you so that you will be able to maintain a complete record of your points.

Consider bonus points “extra.” Do not count on them to overcome substantial point losses on regular assignments. Materials submitted for bonus points need to show extra care—errors in spelling, grammar, or mechanics (including format) may disqualify materials from consideration.

Additional Information

If you leave a voice mail message for me, begin by stating the day and time you are placing the call, and enunciate clearly. Provide enough information so that I can understand the purpose of your call and make a decision about it. If you wish to have me return your call, leave your number (stating it twice) and the times you can be reached. Note: I am much more inclined to return calls when I know what the call is about than when all I am told is “please call me,” and this is especially true for calls to numbers outside the 269 area code.

NOTE: I am not as attentive to voice mail as I am to email. If you leave email for me, in most cases you will have a response by 8:00A the next day. As a rule, I am able to respond to email more quickly than I am to voice mail.

If you need extra help, ask for it. I can’t always tell who is working hard and who is goofing off. Given the University policy on tutoring, I cannot provide private help on specific assignments, but I can probably point you in the direction of the resources you need to help yourself.

Schedule of Assignments

Grading Scale

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