a genre of workplace communication, and instructing users in how to produce it.

The final unit of the semester will be writing to specific audiences to define, describe and provide instructions for a genre of workplace writing (A cover Letter for a job application). This assignment sheet will describe the portfolio you will produce, including the individual components, and guidelines for turning it in. In addition, possible topics are provided.

What the Portfolio will include

You will produce documentation describing a genre of workplace communication, and instructing users in how to produce it.

We have been practicing with “memo” for the past several classes – producing a technical definition, a technical description, and a set of instructions. Now, you will do similar work for another genre.

Your portfolio will include:

· An audience analysis (1 page)

· Extended technical definitions for expert and non-expert audiences (1 page each)

· A technical description (2-4 pages)

· A set of instructions (variable)

· Required Appendices: Usability test and audience analysis (1 page each)

· A memo describing the choices you made in producing the documents in the portfolio (2-4 pages)

Definition, Description and Instructions are covered in Chapter 20 of the textbook. Each document/component should reflect the characteristics of coherence, correctness and design that we have been working with throughout the semester, and that are described in Chapters 9-12 of the textbook. Chapter 13 will help you plan your usability evaluation.

Remember that you must cite all sources that you use throughout the portfolio, including illustrations. It should be clear in the text whether you are using information from a source – either through a signal phrase, a footnote, or parenthetical citation. Your list of sources may be included with the individual documents, or you and add a complete bibliography as a third Appendix.

Formal Definition

You will write two definitions of the same term – aim one definition at an expert audience and one at a non-expert reader. Each definition should include a complete formal (sentence) definition, and at least four (4) ways of extending it (although you will probably need more). Each definition should be written in paragraph format using complete sentences.


· Don’t underestimate your audiences – often students think a non-expert won’t need any information or be interested in any detail and that experts don’t need information or detail because they already know it. But remember, readers of technical documents are “interested” if they need the information. Assume both your readers need the information; the difference is not interest, but background, prior knowledge, vocabulary, etc. The audience analysis forms will be useful. Perhaps think of your audiences as new workplaces writers and experienced (but not necessarily skilled) workplace writers.

· Review techniques of chunking, queuing and filtering described in the textbook, as well as coherence. Remember that “paragraphs” may look different in technical documents than they do in academic documents.

· Carefully review Chapter 10, “Writing Effective Sentences” as you draft and revise these definitions. We will work closely at a sentence level with the definitions, and you will need to be familiar with the language and concepts of that chapter to successfully complete this assignment.

Technical Description

You will write a detailed technical description of your genre, including samples, captions and text. Assume your audience wants to become expert in understanding, evaluating and producing documents in this genre. The Description will need a high level of detail and will need to account for variables within the genre you are describing.

Take the time to learn all you can about the genre you select. Use your textbook and other sources. The internet has information on these genres, but be sure to research wisely – eHow and About.com are unlikely to provide you with the level of detail you need. Printed sources, particularly those aimed at working professionals, may prove very useful. List any sources in a Works Cited and/or a Works Consulted section, either as part of this document or as part of your total bibliography.


· Clearly indicate the nature and scope of your description. This section will also include information about your target audience, the knowledge level of your audience and why your audience might need this description.

· Introduce your topic. Most introductions are general, giving readers a broad overview of your topic. Include a sentence (or longer) definition, and possibly a visual. In addition, the introduction should clearly identify the partitioning strategy you are using and give an overview of the description.

· Provide appropriate detail. This will be the “body” of your description. Don’t forget concrete material details, and think carefully about the organization. Remember to make all language and content choices based on the audience’s level of interest, experience and knowledge about the topic.

· Conclude by summarizing the description. Often a conclusion brings the parts of the description back together again, showing how they work together, and how the item will ultimately help your audience solve a problem or, possibly, enrich their lives.

· Include design features to help the reader locate information and understand the topic: diagrams, headings, bulleted/numbered lists and other technical communication conventions.

· Visual should be original.


You will produce a set of instructions for producing a quality version of the genre you have been working with. The format and media are at your discretion, but of course should be appropriate for the audience and purpose.


· Clearly indicate your audience and the scope of your procedure. Include all necessary components, including a title, list of materials and tools, safety warnings, tips, results, applications, and further information.

· The instructions must contain sequential steps. Although you may have a section on “tips” and/or “best practices,” the focus on the document must be on telling someone how to complete the task of planning and writing their document.

· Remember that your audience is interested in producing a high quality version of the document you are describing – a quick overview won’t meet your audience’s needs. Plan on 12 to 20 steps, so that you’ll have to break your steps into subsections.

· Incorporate elements that will make your document “interactive.” For example, a paper document could include a table of contents, an electronic document could include links, a video could include title and subtitle frames.

· No matter what medium you choose, your illustrations and images must be original and created by you — drawings, photos, videos, etc.


The portfolio has two required appendices, your audience analysis and information about your usability test and results. If you are not including a bibliography with each individual document, you should include a Bibliography as your third appendix.

Audience analysis

You must provide a completed audience analysis form. The textbook provides a model that you can use or modify, or you can develop your own format based on the work we’ve done with audience over the semester.

Usability test

You must design and executive a usability evaluation for your description and instructions. That is, you must ask a member of your target audience to test your procedure and give you feedback. Chapter 13 and your notes from class will be useful as you develop a usability evaluation. You will provide a copy or description of the test (including who your testers were and how they fit into your

Memo of Transmittal

The final portfolio should include final, tested and edited versions of all documents. In addition to your portfolio, each team will prepare an activity report (around 500 words, in memo format) that addresses these questions:

· What was your process for approaching the portfolio documents? (Refer to writing the definition, the description, and the instructions; as well as preparing the usability test, and other aspects of preparing the portfolio.

· How did considerations of audience, purpose, and context affect the decisions you made? What role(s) did each team member play in your production? How did you assign these roles?

· What challenges did the production of the portfolio or its individual elements present? How did you meet those challenges?

· How did your audience analysis and your usability test results affect the drafting and revision of your final documents?

· How would you evaluate your final product (strengths and weaknesses)?

· What did you learn from this project?

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