Description and Policies

Course information

Course number: ENGL 491A / 491
Course name: Professional Field Experience
Term and year: Spring 2013
CRN: 12256 / 13506
Location: G10 Woodburn Hall 223 Colson Hall
Times: TT, 11:30-12:45 (see course schedule for meeting times)
Professor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Prof. email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Prof. Twitter: johnmjones
Office location: 231 Colson Hall
Office hours: T 10-11, Th 1-2, or by appointment

Course description

ENGL 491A: Professional Field Experience is the capstone course for the Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) concentration. The goal of this capstone course is to provide you with a venue—a professional communication internship—in which you can apply and further enhance the skills and knowledge you have developed during your training as a PWE major. As you proceed with the internship, you will gain practical experience as a writer within a professional organization. You will develop skills in reading—or recognizing and analyzing—the culture of your particular organization, and you will apply this knowledge in order to adapt to the workplace environment, contribute to the organization’s work, and eventually identify possibilities for innovation. As the term progresses, you will become more adept at thinking of yourself as a professional, and you will be better prepared to develop and apply your skills and knowledge to future workplace experiences.

While you gain on-the-job experience as a writer in a professional setting, you will also participate in a biweekly discussion (in person or online) in applied rhetoric. This seminar will give you a regular opportunity to discuss observations, problems, and accomplishments that arise on the job and to reflect on how you can best prepare yourself for future workplace experiences. The class will take a workshop approach in which we apply theories of workplace writing to students’ internship experiences, share internship projects during class, and work on developing students’ identities as professional communicators. Because we may discuss sensitive work-related topics in class and because you may encounter sensitive materials in your workplace, you will need to maintain an ethical awareness of individual and workplace boundaries.

Required resources

The following list details the required and recommended resources for the course. Required texts must be obtained by the second class meeting. If you will have any problems fulfilling these requirements, please contact me immediately.

Required texts

  • George Plumley. WordPress 24-Hour Trainer. 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Wiley, 2011. ISBN: 1118066901.
  • Herb J. Smith and Kim Haimes-Korn. Portfolios for Technical and Professional Communicators. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007. ISBN: 0131704583
  • Edward Tufte. The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Graphics Press, 2006. ISBN: 0961392169.

Recommended texts

  • Christopher Smith. Adobe InDesign CS5 Digital Classroom. Indianapolis: Wiley, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-470-60781-7.

Required digital resources

  • Regular access to a computer and the Internet,
  • a MIX email account which is checked daily,
  • $20 to cover the cost of printing and mounting your poster,
  • a Twitter account,
  • a Google Drive account, and
  • a personal website where you can host your portfolio. You may choose whatever hosting service (direct or third-party) you prefer, but I strongly encourage you to use WordPress.

Additional recommendations

Course policies

Professional conduct

This course is part of the Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) program at WVU, and it is designed to prepare you for careers as professional communicators. For this reason, many aspects of the course are designed to replicate professional work experiences, and all students are expected to conduct themselves like professionals at all times, both in their internships and in the course. As is the case with professionals, students are expected to attend and be on time to all class meetings; to come to those class meetings prepared; and, generally, to respond to all course activities and assignments as they would to comprable work activities and assignments.

A note about work visibility

Due to the nature of the course, you will be sharing your work with your fellow classmates as part of workshops and peer review sessions. Additionally, you will share some of your work (class assignments and internship materials that you have received explicit permission from your site supervisor to share) with the WVU community and publicly on the Web. By taking this course, you are indicating that you accept these requirements. If you have any questions about these requirements, please contact me immediately.

Office hours

If you have any questions about the readings, assignments, or any other issues related to the course, I will be happy to answer them. I will generally be available before and after our class meetings, and I will hold regular office hours each week. My office hours this semester will be on Tuesdays from 10-11 and Thursdays from 1-2. If you would like to meet with me but are not free during those times, please contact me directly and I will be happy to schedule an alternative meeting time that fits both of our schedules. If for some reason it becomes necessary for me to cancel or reschedule my regular office hours or a meeting with an individual student, I will notify the class or the student as soon as possible using one of the methods described in the next section.

Official communication

In addition to our class meetings, there will be two primary avenues of official communication for the course: WVU email and this website. I will initiate official communication to the class or individual students via my WVU email account. I will send these messages to your MIX emails. Updates to the course site—such as changes to the course schedule or additional information about assignments—will be posted to the blog on this site. I may sometimes duplicate messages in other media—for example, I might post on Twitter that I have added a new blog post to the course site or that I have sent everyone an important email—but, in order to make sure you don’t miss important information, you should regularly check your MIX accounts as well as this site. We will also communicate via other means, most notably via Twitter and comments on documents on Google Drive.

My tendency in course communication initiated by students will to respond in the medium in which the question was sent. For example, if you ask a question on Twitter, I will tend to respond on Twitter (assuming the answer can fit in a tweet and is suitable for public view); if you ask a question in a comment on a document in Google Drive, I will respond in a comment on that document; if you send me an email, I will email you back.

I will do my best to respond to your messages within 24 hours during the work week; on the weekends, responses may take longer.

Technology policies

Adopting new technologies
In this course, we will be experimenting with many different technologies for writing and reading, ranging from services like Twitter to software packages like Adobe’s InDesign to content management systems like WordPress. As experimenters, our method will be trial and error. In this course you may be introduced to a new way of communicating that you find indispensable. Alternatively, you may find yourself using communication technologies that you cannot imagine yourself using again outside of the course, and you may experience these technologies as being difficult or simply irritating.

That is ok.

You are not required to love the technologies we experiment with or embrace them without question. What is required of you is that you approach all of our assignments with an open mind and your best effort, as a professional experimenting with different modes of communication.

While the course texts provide specific, detailed instruction on the use of WordPress and InDesign, it will not always be possible for us to cover the uses of all technologies touched on in the course. On some occasions you will find that you need to use a technology or piece of software that is new to you but which we have not discussed in class. I do expect that when we discuss specific technologies in class you will take notes so you will have a guide to follow when it comes time for you to use these technologies.

In all cases, when faced with new tools and technologies you should expect to devote some time to experimenting with and learning these technologies, researching (or discovering) their possibilities and limitations, and, when possible, sharing what you have learned with your classmates when they need help. If you need assistance with a particular technology, feel free to come and ask me; however, you will find that in most instances, if you have a question about how to accomplish a particular task—for example, adding an image to your WordPress installs—other people have had the same question and the answer is available on the Internet.

Using technologies in class
You are welcome to bring devices like laptops, tablets, or smartphones to class for note-taking or any other activities that are relevant to the course. In general, most technology is welcome in class as long as it is used to aid student learning. Technology that doesn’t serve this purpose—or that actively distracts you or your classmates from learning—is not welcome, and I reserve the right to restrict the use of such technologies in class.


There are no “excused” absences in the course. For this reason, you should reserve your absences for truly unavoidable emergencies. Each student will be allowed one (1) absence without it affecting his or her grade. For each absence over one (1), the student’s final grade for the course will be lowered by 5 points. This includes absences for illnesses and other emergencies.

It is also important that you be in class on time and stay for the entire period. If you arrive to class more than 5 minutes late or leave class more than 5 minutes before it is dismissed, you will be counted absent. Further, if you come to class unprepared on the day of a workshop session or other in-class activity—that is, with no project to workshop or without the necessary materials for the activity—you will be counted absent.

If you find that an unavoidable conflict prevents you from attending class or being on time, you should discuss this conflict with me prior to the absence (if possible). Otherwise, you should contact me about any absences as soon as possible.

Late work

If you cannot attend class on the date an assignment is due, you should discuss a make-up date with me before the absence. If you do not contact me before the time an assignment is due, the assignment will be considered late. In general, a problem with technology will not be considered an acceptable excuse for late or incomplete work. If your computer malfunctions, it is your responsibility to find an alternative one to work on. If your Internet goes out, you will need to find a different access point. And you should create multiple redundant backups of your work in case you accidentally erase, overwrite, or otherwise lose your files, or if it becomes necessary for you to work on a computer other than your own.

Work turned in after it is due will be penalized by ten percentage points for each calendar day it is late. Homework, quizzes, and all other in-class assignments will not be accepted late. If you fail to attend class on the day you are scheduled to lead a class discussion or give a presentation, you should expect to receive no credit for that assignment.

Submitting course work

Unless otherwise noted, all course assignments will be submitted electronically. I will inform you of the method and procedures for submitting particular assignments before those assignments are due. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due before the start of class on the day they are listed in the course schedule.

Research, plagiarism, and scholastic honesty

While writing for hire in a professional setting invariably involves the reuse of pre-existing texts, is vitally important that you strictly adhere to the standards of citation and source documentation within your industry and, for your course assignments, that you fully acknowledge the original authors or source of all material that you include as part of your assignments, at every stage of the assignment. Without that acknowledgement, you can cause confusion as to the authorship of your work, and taking someone else’s published or unpublished ideas and submitting them as your own constitutes plagiarism and will result in formal academic discipline. In general, if you turn in work that is not your own, in whole or in part, without adequate attribution to the original author, or if you commit any other form of scholastic dishonesty, these actions will result in either a major course penalty or, depending on the severity of the violation, failure for the course. If you have any questions about the use you are making of sources for an assignment, you should counsult me before the assignment is turned in.

For a complete discussion of what constitutes plagiarism and the relevant WVU disciplinary procedures, students should consult the West Virginia University Undergraduate Catalog (pdf) and the West Virginia University Student Conduct Code.

Accommodations policy

If you have a documented learning disability, hearing or vision problem, or any other special need that might affect your performance or participation in the class, please contact WVU’s Office of Disability Services to arrange accommodations.

Social justice policy

The English Department and the Professional Writing and Editing Program support WVU’s commitment to social justice. In this course, you will work with your classmates to create a positive learning environment based on open communication and mutual respect.

Assignments (with grade%)

Over the course of the term, students will

  1. Complete 140 hours of internship work in a professional manner (40%)
  2. Participate in all class activities and complete assigned reading, writing assignments, and quizzes (15%)
  3. Complete three reflective essays on your internship experience (10%)
  4. Present a poster at the end-of-semester PWE Exhibition (15%)
  5. Produce a Web portfolio of internship materials (20%)

Complete 140 hours of internship work

In order to receive credit for the course, you need to complete a minimum of 140 hours at your internship before the last day of classes (see the course schedule for exact dates). If your site supervisor approves, your schedule can be flexible; for example, you could work 10 hours per week for the span of 14 weeks or 20 hours per week for 7 weeks. What must be consistent, however, is your carrying out your internship work in a professional manner. As an intern, you are expected to:

  • Inform the internship sponsor of the criteria for ENGL 491A / 491, including the public presentation requirements of the Poster Exhibition and online portfolio;
  • Arrive at the internship at the designated time and location, prepared for work;
  • Record the hours you work and activities you perform in the “Internship Log” (see the course schedule for details);
  • Contact your supervisor in advance regarding any absence and completing the duties of the absent period at a time convenient to both your sponsor and you;
  • Receive explicit permission from your supervisor before including documents produced as part of the internship on your poster and online portfolio or sharing them with the faculty internship coordinator;
  • Execute assigned tasks to the best of your ability; and
  • Seek help from your supervisor should you have questions regarding an assigned task.

Of course, the PWE internship has been designed for the benefit not only of the internship sponsor but also for you. Toward these ends, the sponsoring organization must:

  • Assign work that is relevant and useful to both the sponsoring organization and to your professional development;
  • Assign work requiring skills developed in your PWE major or minor (e.g. writing, editing, research, etc.);
  • Train and guide you through your designated tasks (and/or assigning a mentor to you); and
  • Serve as a resource regarding career information and other aspects of professional development.

In coordination with your sponsoring organization and myself, interns must complete the Internship Agreement by the end of the second week of the term. Additionally, interns are required to file weekly updates of their work via the Internship Log in their course folders. The log must be updated each week, even on those weeks when the student has not worked (on these weeks, interns will simply log 0 hours).

You internship sponsor will file formal evaluations of your professionalism and work ethic during the mid-term and finals period (evaluation forms are available for download on the forms page).

Your grade for this component of the course will be based on these evaluations and any other correspondance with your supervisor, my own observations of your work, and your ability to complete and submit your logs or any other internship-related course tasks accurately and in a timely manner.

Participate in all class activities and complete assigned reading and writing assignments

We will meet as a group bi-weekly, mostly on Tuesdays, throughout the semester. View the course schedule for class meeting days. However, in case it becomes necessary to move a scheduled class meeting or add additional meetings, you should always keep our class time—Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:30-12:45—open.

These meetings will give you an opportunity to share your successes, to ask questions about problems or concerns you may be facing in your internship, to learn from your peers about how they are handling similar situations in their internships, and to provide you with support as you work on your poster and final portfolio. You are expected to attend each scheduled class meeting.* While there are no excused absences for the course, you will be allowed one absence without penalty. Each additional absence will result in a five-point deduction from your final grade.

To focus our discussions about portfolio keeping, Web portfolio building, and PWE internship-related topics, you are expected come to each class meeting having completed all scheduled reading and writing assignments. You must have either digital or print copies of the readings with you when you come to class, along with your notes on those readings. I will regularly quiz you on all course materials, including assigned readings, course information, and discussion forum posts.

*Note for online (ENGL 491) students: Online students are not required to attend class meetings. In lieu of attendance, online students are required to complete all the assigned readings for each class meeting and post to their course folder a summary of at least 100 words for each reading. These summaries are due in the course folder before the class meeting when they are assigned. Additionally, online students will schedule two phone or video conferences with the instructor between Monday, March 11, 2013, and Monday, April 15, 2013, to discuss their progress on the poster and final portfolio. These requirements will replace course attendance and in-class participation in tabulating online students’ participation grades.

Monitoring course-related information

An important part of course participation is remaining informed of course activities, assignments, and alterations to the course schedule. I will post non-sensitive course information to the blog on this site and send emails to your MIX accounts for updates of sensitive information. It is your responsibility to regularly monitor this site and your MIX email to make sure that you have the most up-to-date course information.

Discussion leader postings and discussion responses

On the weeks we do not meet (indicated with shading on the course schedule), you will be responsible for participating in online discussions of the course readings on the discussion forum.

For each week there will be one or more Discussion Leaders (DL) who will begin that week’s discussion of the assigned readings and any related topics. As part of this task, the DL can analyze the assigned readings, challenge them, compare and contrast them with her/his personal internship experience or other pertinent texts/resources, pose a question to her/his peers (that s/he should also attempt to answer), or otherwise stimulate an online class discussion.

The DL schedule will be determined during our second class meeting. The DL will begin the discussion by posting a new topic in the Discussion Forum.

To receive credit, the DL’s topic post should have a descriptive title, be at least 250 words in length, and be posted before 9 a.m. on Monday of the assigned week. All other students will participate in the discussion by posting at least one reply of at least 150 words to this new topic before 5 p.m. Friday of that same week. Discussion leaders are also required to post one comment in addition to their initial post. (For example, to receive credit for the post on the week of Monday, 1/28, the discussion leader must post her or his introductory post by 9 a.m. on Monday, 1/28, and the DL and everyone else you must post at least one response to the thread before 5 p.m. on Friday, 2/1.) Topics or responses posted after they are due will receive no credit and cannot be made up. Obviously, the sooner you contribute to the online conversation, the more lively and substantive the discussion can become.

Discussion posts and responses will be graded according to the following scale:

  • A: Rich in content, insight and analysis. All required discussion posts are timely and make clear connections to previous or current content (readings, other discussion posts, real-life situations). New ideas and new connections are made with depth and detail in a professional manner.
  • B: Strong in content, insight and analysis. All required discussion posts are timely and make clear connections to previous or current content (readings, other discussion posts, real-life situations). New ideas and new connections are made, though they may lack some depth, detail and/or professional presentation.
  • C: Generally competent in content, insight and analysis, though information is thin or commonplace. Most required discussion posts are timely and make clear connections to previous or current content (readings, other discussion posts, real-life situations). Posts rehash or summarize other postings, few if any new ideas and new connections are made, or obvious grammatical or stylistic errors interfere with readability.
  • D: Rudimentary and superficial in content, displaying no analysis or insight. No new ideas or connections are made or are off topic. Some required postings are missing, and obvious grammatical or stylistic errors make understanding nearly impossible.
  • F: Some or all required discussion posts are missing. Discussion posts lack analysis, insight and understanding.

Complete three reflective essays on your internship experience

Over the course of the term, you will complete three short, reflective essays on your internship experience. These essays will serve as a means of tracking your development as a writer and worker and inform your final analysis of your internship experience in the portfolio. As with all work related to a course in which you are demonstrating your abilities as a professional communicator, these essays should be thoughtfully composed, clearly and effectively organized, and predominantly free of errors.

  • Expectations essay: Examine the syllabus for the course, the required texts, your notes on our first class meeting, and any conversations you have had with myself and/or your site supervisor. Pay close attention to policies, procedures, assignments, and expectations for the English 491A / 491 course or for the internship organization. After doing so, write one single-spaced page explaining your expectations for your contributions to the course. What assignments or activities do you think you will do well on in the course or in your internship work? Why? What assignments or activities do you think will be difficult for you? Why? What parts of your reading, writing, and work history make you confident about some parts of the course or internship and hesitant about others? You will upload this completed document to your course folder by the due date listed on the schedule.
  • Midterm self assessment: After I receive your midterm evaluation from your site supervisor, you will schedule a meeting with me to discuss the results of that evaluation. After that meeting, you will write an essay one single-spaced page in length addressing the details of the evaluation and your plans for addressing that evaluation over the remainder of the internship. For example, if the midterm evaluation suggests areas where you can improve, you must explicitly respond to that feedback and detail a plan for addressing those areas before the end of the semester. If the assessment details no areas for improvement, you will take stock of how you’re doing by examining what strategies are or aren’t working for you on the job, and what you will need to concentrate on for the remainder of the internship in order to improve. You can do this by reflecting on what you’re learning through your internship about your writing process, your strengths as a writer, and your preferences and writing habits. The due date for this essay can be found on the schedule.
  • Revisiting expectations essay: Reread what you wrote in your Expectations essay about your expectations for the course and the internship and about the areas in which you thought your strengths would help you. Do you still agree with what you wrote? How did your expectations match up with the reality of the course? What parts of this exercise can you use in writing the reflective and contextual statements for your portfolio? The due date for this essay can be found on the schedule.

These essays will be graded according to the following scale:

  • A: Rich in content, insight and analysis. The essay was turned in on time, met the requirements for the assignment, and effectively and thoughtfully responded to the essay’s purpose.
  • B: Strong in content, insight and analysis. The essay was turned in on time and met the requirements for the assignment, but may lack some depth, detail and/or professional presentation.
  • C: Generally competent in content, insight and analysis, though information is thin or commonplace. The essay was turned in late, failed to meet the requirements for the assignment, few if any new ideas and new connections were made, or obvious grammatical or stylistic errors interfered with readability.
  • D: Rudimentary and superficial in content, displaying no analysis or insight. The essay was turned in late, failed to meet the requirements for the assignment, and/or obvious grammatical or stylistic errors made understanding nearly impossible.
  • F: The essay was turned in late or not at all, failed to meet or address the requirements for the assignment, and obvious grammatical or stylistic errors made understanding nearly impossible.

Present a poster at the end-of-semester PWE Exhibition

West Virginia University requires that all capstone courses include a public presentation component. To satisfy this requirement, you will produce a poster that summarizes your internship experience. This poster will be exhibited from 10-5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 (location TBA). You are required to set up your poster in the exhibition space prior to 10 a.m. and to be present to answer questions about the poster and your internship from 4-5 p.m.* Your posters will help to educate the WVU community about the field of professional communication. Specifically, they will assist the community in understanding answers to questions like:

  • What kinds of organizations do professional communicators work for?
  • What types of positions do professional communicators occupy?
  • What sorts of roles do professional communicators fill in these organizations?
  • What genres of writing do professional communicators create?
  • What kinds of skills do professional communicators use?

More generally, your poster will heighten audience members’ awareness, and deepen their understanding, of the cultures of professional communication at West Virginia University and in Morgantown.

Specifically, your poster should showcase two or three documents that best represent your internship experience. You should accompany each of these documents with a contextual analysis that indicates the audience, purpose, genre conventions, and other circumstances or constraints for each of these materials, and discusses how you negotiated this context. Since the poster is a highly visual medium, you should incorporate images and graphics that illustrate and add meaning to your reflections. Finally, to fulfill the objectives of the capstone course, you should incorporate a reflective component through which you address how these materials showcased on your poster speak to your academic and professional development. Because of this focus on professionalism, you should come to the Exhibition dressed in business attire.

*Note for online (ENGL 491) students: Online students are encouraged to present in person at the Exhibition, if this is possible. If it is not possible, online students will create an alternative presentation—generally, an traditional presentation—that can be showcased at the Exhibition. This presentation should meet the guidelines for effective professional communication in the medium the student has chosen (online students will work out details of the presentation, including medium, length, and other expectations, with the professor well before the Exhibition). Otherwise, all other due dates and requirements listed in this section apply to online students’ posters.

Confidential and proprietary documents

You will likely encounter documents and work on projects at your organization relating to proprietary and confidential information. It is your responsibility as a professional to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of those materials. Using the form provided for this purpose, for each document on your poster you must obtain explicit permission from your site supervisor prior to the Exhibition to publicly display that document.

Basic Components of your poster

  1. Title: The title of your poster should draw your audience’s attention to the aspect(s) of your internship experience that you want to highlight in your exhibit. Do you want to focus on the genres that you wrote? The type of organization in which you worked? The rhetorical purposes of the documents you wrote for the organization?
  2. Brief description of the organization where you interned.
  3. Brief description of your internship experience. You could address these types of issues:
    • the variety of tasks you completed, both writing and non-writing;
    • the amount of material you produced;
    • the kinds of materials you produced; and
    • the process through which you produced these materials (e.g., what kinds of research you did and where you did research, whom you worked with, who gave you feedback, how many drafts you produced of most documents, how long you worked on most projects).
  4. 2–3 documents that illustrate your internship experience.
  5. Your analysis of each document (see below).
  6. Visuals and design: Your poster should be effectively designed—following guidelines we will discuss in our class meetings—highlighting your documents and analysis in a way that meets the needs of the situation and your audience. Treat your documents as visual components of the poster, and consider ways to add visual interest to your poster through these documents and other elements, whether that be through showing editorial markup on drafts, highlighting key aspects of a document’s design, or adding call-outs that enlarge a central passage of the text. Because the poster limits the amount of space that you have to present this information, resist the urge to decorate your poster with clip-art or other blandishments. Instead, thoughtfully consider how you can add visual appeal to your poster while also adding substantive information about your internship experience.

Presenting and analyzing your PWE documents

You can use the poster to describe and analyze your internship experience in any way that you find to be most effective and most appropriate. However, your posters must showcase two or three documents that best represent the work you’ve done this term, the kind of work done at the organization where you worked, and/or the kind of work done by people in the position you held. Accompanying each document, provide explanation and analysis that describes it in these kinds of ways:

  • Genre of the document
  • Audience for the document
  • Purpose of the document
  • Key rhetorical features of the genre, and
  • Key rhetorical decisions (textual and/or design) you made in creating the document.

Your analysis of the document also should try to address the question, “What purpose does this document serve for the organization?” Put another way, “What does this document enable the organization to do?” and “How does my work on this document showcase my own development as a professional communicator?”

The ways in which you address these questions will help to contribute to our larger goal of educating the campus community about the work of professional communicators. Many people know that professional communicators write documents, but they do not necessarily know the various ways in which these documents serve not only an organization’s clients and partners but also the organization’s internal workings, as well. When thinking about the documents you’re exhibiting, consider the multiple purposes that any one document might serve. The purposes of a document could be external. For example, a technical description that accompanies a product could aim both to educate the consumer about the safe and effective use of that product, and it could also aim to create a positive impression of the company itself as being thorough, attentive to details, and consumer-oriented. The purposes of the document also could be internal to the organization itself. For example, a policy manual could help an organization to run more efficiently as it helps new members of the organization (particularly in a non-profit organization with high employee turnover rates) to learn their specific job responsibilities as well as to understand their work in relation to that of other employees or volunteers.

Format and design

We will use class time to discuss how to design and create effective posters, but you can review the sites below to begin thinking about the content and design of your poster.

Posters should be printed at 36×48 inches and mounted on display board. Information about printing posters through the WVU’s Office of Information Technology can be found here. I will provide stands for the posters on the day of the Exhibition.

In addition to the printed version of the poster, you should submit a high-quality image of the poster to your course folder on Google Drive.

Assessment of the posters

These are the criteria I will use to evaluate your poster and public presentation:

  • Title and Introduction: The title and introduction draw readers’ attention to a particularly unique or interesting aspect of the student’s internship experience and provide adequate context for understanding the organization where the student interned, the contribution of the student’s work to that organization, and the role that work played in the development of the student as a professional communicator.
  • Documents: The documents featured in the poster reflect the breadth and/or depth of the student’s professional communication experience during this internship.
  • Analysis: The student’s analysis of the major PWE documents helps readers to better understand what each type of document is, what purpose and audience it serves, how the student produced it, and/or what unique aspects of that document allow it to best respond to a particular rhetorical situation.
  • Visual Design: The materials on the poster have been arranged in ways that help readers to understand the relationship (e.g., hierarchy, what-goes-with-what, etc.) between ideas and documents on the poster. The elements of the design heighten the information value of the poster and do not interfere with audience understanding of the poster’s purpose and message.
  • Public Presentation: The student presents her- or himself professionally and answers questions about his or her internship with clarity and enthusiasm.

Produce a Web portfolio of internship materials

By the end of the term, you will have continually recorded and reflected on the strategies you used to work through writing and research projects in your internship position. Your tasks as a portfolio keeper have included tending to your developing ideas about individual writing projects in particular and professional communication more generally; keeping watch over your learning patterns; and, quite possibly, collaborating with colleagues at your internship. Now, your responsibility shifts to putting together and polishing a final product that demonstrates your growth and development as a professional communicator. The final portfolio marks the culmination of your efforts in the capstone course, as you display your ability to be a reflective professional communicator and to analyze and respond to rhetorical situations effectively.

By 9 a.m., Friday, 5/3, you will publish your portfolio to the Web and post a link to it on the links forum where your classmates and I will be able to access it. At this time your portfolio should be revised, edited, and polished to presentation quality, and I will evaluate the argument it advances about your ability to make rhetorically informed choices. In effect, the purpose of your final portfolio is to convince me, your evaluator, that your portfolio represents your best work as a professional communication intern, that you have become a reflective learner, and that you have developed writing abilities that match the high evaluative standards set for WVU’s Professional Writing & Editing program.

The only firm guideline for the contents of your final portfolio is that it includes 5,000 words (roughly 20 double-spaced pages) of finished, polished writing. You are free to include any additional finished or unfinished writing—from brainstorming and rough design sketches to drafts and email correspondence—that help you to make a specific claim about your abilities, your development, or your identity as a professional communicator.

Confidential and proprietary documents

As with your poster, you must obtain explicit permission (using the same form) from your site supervisor to publicly display the documents in your portfolio on the Web prior to posting them. Your unfinished writing related to your internship is subject to the same confidentiality concerns as other documents. You must also obtain the permission of anyone with whom you have corresponded if you wish to publish their correspondence in your portfolio.

Contextualizing your portfolio documents

In addition to examples of the professional writing that you completed through your internship, you will also compose an introductory essay that contextualizes the documents in your portfolio. This essay will pull together the various documents in your portfolio and explicate what these documents illustrate about your academic and professional development. It will introduce the materials in the portfolio, explaining your decision-making about what to include in your portfolio. You will use your 5,000 words of polished writing, as well as any additional writing, as evidence to support the claim you want to make about yourself as a writer. For example, you might discuss how the extensive revisions you made to a brochure illustrate your greater sensitivity to an audience’s informational needs. Or, you might explain how the email correspondence with your colleagues shows you working through the difficulties of blending different writing styles. So, after you have selected your materials and built a cohesive argument, you will explain to me what cohesive argument they make and how they do so. Your goal with this essay is to show me what you have learned about the qualities of good professional writing, anticipating readers’ needs, and the importance of careful presentation.

As we will discuss throughout the term, the visual design of your Web portfolio plays an important part in readers’ assessment both of its content and of you, its composer. I certainly expect students to come to this portfolio project with a wide range of abilities in publishing documents for the Web. The course readings and the demonstrations should help everyone to develop basic Web-authoring skills they can use to build effective Web portfolios. Ultimately, my concern while evaluating your portfolio will be not on whether your portfolio reflects highly advanced Web-authoring skills but instead on whether every element of the portfolio—from its textual contents to its visual design—supports your purposes and goals for the project.

Assessment of the portfolios

I will use the following assessment rubric to evaluate your Web portfolio.

  • Context: The parts individually and the portfolio as a whole demonstrate an awareness of and response to the particular, rhetorical needs of audience and purpose.
  • Content: The parts individually and the portfolio as a whole demonstrate an awareness of genre and argument, including appropriate information and persuasive techniques. In addition, the portfolio demonstrates a critical engagement with the process of writing and with the intern’s learning process.
  • Style: The parts individually and the portfolio as a whole demonstrate an awareness of professional tone, style, and sentence structure.
  • Format/Conventions: The parts individually and the portfolio as a whole demonstrate an understanding and application of layout, visual design, audience cues, and information structure. In addition, the portfolio adheres to the written conventions of professional writing.

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