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Incubator Info Sheet Assignment
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In my last post, I described my plan to organize a series of assignments for my technical writing course around a fictional business incubator. This week, I have the first of those assignments to share with you.
For the series to work, I need students to choose a company that they will focus on for the assignments they will write. The first assignment asks students to share the basic information about their company in a memo. In the scenario, their information will be combined with that of other new companies that are joining the incubator for a presentation at the first meeting of all the members of the incubator.
The assignment below has some minor changes to remove specific information that is relevant only to the students in my classes. References to “Markel” in the assignment refer to chapters in the class textbook Technical Communication by Mike Markel and Stuart Selber.
Incubator Info Sheet
All of the projects will relate to your membership in a fictional business incubator, the Ut Prosim Incubator. The projects you will complete for your portfolios will be documents that you create as a member of this incubator. You will create a business and then write the pieces for your portfolio from the perspective as a starting business owner. You will collaborate with other members of the incubator and contribute materials to the endeavors that the incubator undertakes. You can read more about the incubator and how the projects connect on the Writing Projects Overview page.
During your first week as an Ut Prosim Incubator member, you receive the following memo:
Ut Prosim Incubator
1872 Inventors Way, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060
To: CEOs of New Incubator Companies
From: Traci Gardner, Ut Prosim Director
Subject: Your Company Info Sheet
Date: August 27, 2018
Welcome to the Ut Prosim Incubator! We are all so happy to have you join the Fall 2018 class of entrepreneurs.
I know you are still settling into your office, so our first all-company meeting will not take place for a few weeks. At this meeting, you will introduce your company to the other members of the Incubator.
The meeting will be informal, but we do want to prepare handouts and slides to share with attendees. We will also post the basic information that you provide on the Incubator website, for the possible research partners on campus, potential investors, and the public.
Please send the following information to me by September 7:
- Your Company Name
- Your Company CEO (use the name you want to appear in official documentation)
- Your Company Mission Statement (a statement of your company’s goals and values)
- Your Company Overview (explain what you company does, including whatever research you do, products your create, or services you provide)
- Your Company’s Target Audience (who are the customers you serve or hope to serve)
Do not worry about formatting or design in your response. We will format the information for all the companies according to the Incubator’s branding and style guidelines.
We will send out a meeting announcement once a place and time have been confirmed. In the mean time, if you need any help settling in, please let me know or contact my assistant, Leslie Crow <email@example.com>.
The Project Assignment
Step 1: Decide on the focus for your business.
Decide what your company will do—will you focus on products or services? You will focus on the company that you imagine for the entire term, so choose something that you know well. Sure, you can be creative, but create something doable that you have experience with (or at least strong knowledge of). Additionally, your focus must directly relate to your major.
As long as you comply with those two stipulations, you can focus on anything you want to. You have capital, staff, and resources to do whatever you set your mind to.
Step 2: Analyze the audiences for your memo.
Review the memo above and decide who the audience is for the memo you have to write and for the information that you have to gather. Use the information from Markel, Chapter 5 to decide how the characteristics of the audiences will influence the writing that you do. Consider the questions in Figure 5.2: Audience Profile Sheet and/or the Writer’s Checklist at the end of the chapter to guide your analysis.
Step 3: Determine the information that the memo requests.
Work through the memo above and find the information that you have to provide in your response. Once you find the list of requested information, decide on your responses. You are creating your business, so you get to create the answers for all the requested information. Don’t get stuck on perfectionism at this point. Compile your ideas, but know you can always come back to revise.
Step 4: Write a memo to me with the details.
Compose your memo, as requested in The Scenario above, with all the details you have gathered and created. As you work, keep the following points in mind:
- Even though sophisticated formatting is not required, ensure that your answers are easy to find and read.
- Check your draft for the use of plain language.
- Ensure that you follow all relevant ethical guidelines as you create your responses, using the Writer’s Checklist at the end of Markel, Chapter 2.
- Be sure that your memo makes a good impression with accuracy and correctness. It should be polished and professional.
Step 5: Check your draft for correct use of memo format.
Be sure that you include the memo headings (To, From, Subject, and Date). For more details on memo format, consult Chapter 14 of Markel.
Step 6. Review your draft for design and basic writing errors.
Everything you write should use accurate/appropriate image editing, grammar, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, linking, and formatting. These are important basic writing skills that you should have developed in high school. Review your project, using the Writer’s Checklist at the end of Markel, Chapter 10.
You can also consult the information on “Sentence-Level Issues” in Markel, Appendix, Part 😧 Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL). While the section is labeled for multilingual writers, it is useful for everyone. It includes explanations and examples for many common mistakes writers make.
Step 7: Submit your draft to your Writing Group in Canvas.
Post a rough draft of your info sheet to your Writing Group in Canvas in the 08/29 Peer Feedback Discussion in Canvas. Additional instructions are in the Discussion. Post a draft of your memo by August 30. If you are late submitting a draft, your group may not have time to provide feedback.
Step 8: Provide feedback to your Writing Group in Canvas.
Provide feedback to the members of your writing group by September 4 (end of the grace period). Use the information on the Writing Groups page to provide constructive feedback that will help your group members make concrete improvements to their drafts.
Step 9: Revise your draft.
Use the feedback that you receive from your group members to revise and improve your document. You can share your draft again with your Writing Group, if you desire. As you revise, keep in mind the advice in Steps 4, 5, and 6 above, as well as the Assessment Criteria below.
Step 10: Include a polished version of your response in Project Portfolio 1, due October 1.
Have your Info Sheet memo finished and ready for submission in your Project Portfolio 1, which is due Monday, October 1. The grace period for Project Portfolio 1 ends at 11:59PM on Thursday, October 4.
Your project should meet the following criteria:
- Makes a good first impression as a polished and professional document.
- Uses memo format with the appropriate headers.
- Meets the needs of the intended audience.
- Uses layout and formatting that makes information easy for readers to find and read.
- Is written in plain language, which communicates the ideas clearly.
- Follows all relevant ethical guidelines.
- Uses accurate/appropriate grammar, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, linking, and formatting.
Credit: Ut Prosim Incubator logo created with “Incubator” by lastspark from the Noun Project, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license.
So far the assignment has gone well. The biggest challenge I have had to deal with (other than the typical questions about due dates and the like) has been ill-chosen companies that do not actually relate to the student’s major. Many of the students are new to the memo format, but the peer feedback activity and the revision time they have should take care of any issues that come up.
In my next post, I will share a correspondence assignment that is the next step in the course. In the meantime if you have any comments to share on this assignment of the series in general, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Photo: Typer by Caleb Roenigk on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license
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