The primary text you will use is Linda Flower's Problem-Solving Strategies in Writing. The backup text is The Borzoi Handbook for Writers, by Frederick Crews. The first text will provide you with an overview of what it means to think of writing as a process of defining and solving problems. Flower's book is a good combination of theory and practical advice. The second text contains the nuts and bolts of grammar, style, and research techniques--the substance of writing which you need to comprehend as a semi-professional writer, not merely as a student.


I've used this term from the professional world because it's appropriate for us here. More familiarly, I'm talking about grades and requirements.


  • At least average competence from the beginning in writing. This is definitely not a course for those who have trouble getting low B grades on their writing assignments.
  • A professional attitude. All work must be done as well as it can be done, on time; attendance is required--this is a writing lab or workshop more than a formal lecture class, and active, informed participation is a must. I will assign a number of short tasks with no lead-time (i.e. due the next period) because this is common outside the sheltered groves of academe. I will ask students who are absent more than once or twice, who come late, who hand in late or uncomplete work, or who are unprepared to withdraw from the class until they feel they can commit themselves to it.


There will be three types of graded assignments.

  1. The first will be a group of 6 to 8 shorter exercises Combined, these will account for 20% of the term grade.
  2. The second type will be 3 to 4 longer assignments, accounting for 30% of the term grade.
  3. The third will be a long project accounting for 25% of the term grade.

There will be a mid-term exam based on the Flower and Borzoi texts, counting 15%. The remaining 10% will depend upon participation and preparation, in part determined by unannounced quizzes to see if the required reading has been done.



Most professional writing is collaborative, so I will divide you into groups within the first week. The groups should sit together, exchange names and phone numbers, and regard group members as collaborators, to use Flower's term.


You can count on at least one writing assignment each week, of varying lengths; I will usually have these back to you by the following period. I like to use new material, sometimes suggested by the class, for some of these assignments.

Our overall strategy will be to divide the term into two parts:

  • during the first 10 weeks, we will work our way through the Flower text.
  • The last third of the semester will be devoted to long projects; I will define this assignment for you in more detail later, but in general terms it involves researching an area of writing that interests you and writing about it (ecology, biology, technical writing, engineering, etc.).



    Visit the English 407 Questions & Answers section, if you have not already done so, for more information about Writing for the Professions, or go tothe English 494EIP Questions & Answers section to learn more about the Internship portion of the EIP.

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