SYLLABUS, CURRICULUM DESIGN, & GENRE APPROACH
Even though my field of Rhetoric and Composition is located within the English Department, my content knowledge transferred well to this professional communication course within the Business Department. The original syllabus that was given to me by one of the experienced instructors of this course was largely exam-based. This pedagogical method does not align with my pedagogy; therefore, I spent a good amount of time working through some ideas and then I presented my revised syllabus to the experienced instructor before the beginning of the term.
GEB 2313—Business Communications—is a required writing course for students enrolled in the College of Business. As such, it seeks to prepare students to effectively communicate across a range of professional situations.
I decided to bring my expertise to the classroom, and so I grounded the course in rhetoric and genre—two foundational concepts to successful communication. The syllabus still reflected the outcomes of the course that is uniform across all sections; however, instead of using exams to help students achieve these outcomes, I designed the course using five genre units: 1) In-house communication genres, 2) Social media genres, 3) Sales and marketing genres, 4) Customer service genres, and 5) Changing careers genres. In addition to composing multiple genres within these five units, students were required to give three different speeches and create a professional portfolio in which they housed all of their work for the class.
I developed an assessment system that I felt better-represented business communication and professional work. At the beginning of the term, students chose from a range of additional responsibilities to curate their own grading contracts. This work reflected their knowledge development of business writing and communication through successfully achieving set benchmarks.
Team workshops were designed to have students work on developing business genres that responded to a real exigence and were focused for an identified audience. They also had to work within different roles that mimic real business situations, which challenged how they could operate together as a group. These were ultimately low-stakes activities that gave the students a hands-on takeaway.
One of the outcomes of the course was to expose students to communication situations similar to those found in professional environments. This was the major outcome that sparked my idea to create the five units. Examples of genres that my students produced include social media posts, a product campaign, memos, idea pitches to managers, and a press release. They were given real business scenarios and had to respond to the situation using the assigned genre. We spent our class time together investigating these genres to learn both why and how they are used in business.