Economics & Business Program

Written Communication Plan

“It is socially unacceptable to submit written work with an annoying level of error.
You may damage yourself irrevocably in business and professional life if you do so. You
might as well learn the habits of careful editing and proofreading now while you are in college.”
— John C. Bean

Statement to Students

Written communication skills are important in any profession; they are essential for students seeking a career in business or economics. Students are expected to display critical thinking skills, construct an argument based on evidence, and demonstrate practical reasoning in all written work. The Economics & Business Department has developed a Written Communication Plan to help you better understand the skills you will be expected to learn and to let you know where the opportunities exist in the curriculum to practice these writing skills.

Students will be exposed to writing for diverse audiences, from colleagues and management to customers and clients. Various forms of written communications will be completed in departmental courses, including professional proposals, reports, memos, research papers, and case analyses. Students will have opportunities to write both individually and in a team environment. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students to improve their written and oral communication skills in order to help prepare them for the challenges of their chosen professions in business, government, not-for-profits, and academics.

Written Communication Standards

The department offers two areas of study, economics and business administration, and each has discipline-specific goals. For both areas, a high level of written communication skill is critical.

Writing well is a learned skill that benefits from practice. The practice of good writing involves planning, researching, drafting, reviewing, and revising. Writing for different disciplines may have different end products from other academic disciplines (case analyses, reports, memos), but good writing shares some common characteristics.

  • Clarity: Well-chosen words and structured sentences help convey the intended meaning. The reader should not ask, “What does this mean?”
  • Coherence: Information presented and arguments used should flow logically. Writing should be easy to understand.
  • Conciseness: State the information simply. Do not use words that are merely there to impress.
  • Correctness: Verify your facts. Document sources accurately. Check for accurate spelling, grammar, and sentence structure in your work. Use standard American English.
  • Completeness: Good writing represents critical thinking. Analyze completely and support your position.
  • Context: Write appropriately for the audience (peers, customers and/or clients, and employers).

Economics

Economists in any field (education, research, business, or government) spend a majority of their time producing written documentation. As such, a high level of written communication skill is required of all economics majors. All economic majors should demonstrate the ability to:

  1. clearly analyze and describe economic theories and models, data, and policy issues in written form.
  2. synthesize and summarize the work of published economic research in clearly written prose.
  3. clearly communicate (in written form) ideas and findings from original research.

Several economics courses provide the opportunity to practice these skills, including assignments, projects, or assessments. Courses offering these opportunities are identified in the following table. (‘X’ indicates that the course has assignments, exercises or exams that address the goal.)

Economics Courses and the Written Communication Goals Emphasized

1. Analyze and
Describe
2. Synthesize and
Summerize
3. Communicate Original
Research
101
X
102
X
250
X
301
X
X
X
302
332
X
X
X
335
X
341
X
X
347
X
X
350
X
X
X
366
X
X
370
X
X
X
470
X
X
X

Business Administration

Business administration majors, whether completing an accounting, finance, management, or marketing concentration, must have good written communication skills. Business administration majors will be given opportunities to practice these skills in the following ways:

  1. Write appropriate business memoranda, letters or reports that require one or more of the following:
    • describe business events or decisions
    • analyze financial and/or non-financial data or situations
    • draw conclusions
    • make a persuasive argument
    • recommend a course of action
    • describe various business models along with their strengths and limitations, and/or describe the results obtained through a modeling exercise.
  2. Report findings of original research or analysis.
  3. Write a formal research paper citing scholarly or authoritative literature.
  4. Develop an annotated bibliography.

Business courses that provide opportunities to practice these skills are identified in the following table.

Opportunities to Practice Written Communication Skills in Business Courses

1. Write
Appropriately
2. Report
Findings
3. Research
Paper
4. Annotated
Bibliography
120
125
X
130
240
X
X
257
X
X
315
X
X
323
X
X
326
X
X
327
X
X
345
X
346
X
X
363
X
X
364
X
367
X
X
366
368
X
X
427
X
X
437
X
465
X
475
X
X

Student Evaluation

Students will be evaluated for specific written communication skills in each of the courses identified above. The instructor will give clear guidance on the requirements of written communication assignments as well as the standards the student will be expected to meet. The instructor will provide feedback on students’ written work. During the semester, instructors will refer students failing to meet minimal standards to the Center for Learning, Teaching, Communication and Research (the Learning Center).
At the end of each designated written communication course, the instructor may identify students that have not met the minimal requirements for the skill being evaluated in that course. As with all requirements, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to meet the department’s minimum written communication requirements.

Conclusion

Good writing skills are critical to the intellectual development of both economists and business professionals. The General Studies curriculum provides a foundation for the written communication goals Economics & Business Administration majors need. The department seeks to build on that foundation by providing opportunities to enhance and develop those skills in economics and business contexts.

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