Welcome to BizComBuzz, the blog with weekly posts dedicated to providing business communication instructors with useful content to bring right into the classroom!

The Scoop contains short, timely blurbs you can discuss with students and colleagues.

Featured Articles explores issues affecting pedagogy, business communication, and classroom technology in more depth. 

News You Can Use condenses timely business-related news items and provides questions to generate lively classroom discussions.

Classroom Exercises offers case studies and writing technique assignments ready to download.

Join the discussion with The Guffey team and share your thoughts on BizComBuzz. We want to hear from you! E-mail us at info(a)bizcombuzz.com

Classroom Exercise: Edit to Enhance Professionalism

The claim message in this exercise suffers from rudeness and wordiness, as well as from proofreading, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other writing faults that require correction. Choose from two editing activities below, and distribute the Proofreading Marks handout to help your students familiarize themselves with editing symbols.

Activity Option 1: Help students review the flawed message in class in a guided peer edit session, individually or in small groups. Take students through several passes, focusing on a different aspect of the document each time. You may choose to reveal the marked-up solution at the end of the session, so that students can compare their edits.

Activity Option 2: Alternatively, let students edit the message at home in preparation for in-class discussion. To ensure that students do the editing work in advance, collect their edited e-mails (in hard copy) at the beginning of class without discussing them and glance at them after class. In the following session, take a few minutes to project the solution on the screen and discuss it once you return the students’ own work.


Unedited E-Mail (Image)

Unedited E-Mail (MS Word document)

Manually Edited E-Mail (Image)

E-Mail Edited in MS Word (PDF)

Proofreading Marks 

 

 

The Sexist Remark Heard Around the World

A male software engineer at Google recently wrote a 10-page memo in which he argued that women’s biological makeup causes them to be inherently less suitable for jobs in technology. In his rationale, James Damore named specific characteristics that supposedly make women ineffective tech workers. He wrote that women are drawn toward “feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas” and that these differences explain why women prefer jobs with a more artistic or social bent. He also wrote that women are more neurotic than men, which causes them to experience higher anxiety and lower stress tolerance, which in turn leads to their being underrepresented in high-stress jobs such as those in technology.

The document circulated around the company before making its way into the world, and the ensuing uproar led to Damore being fired.

The incident has ignited a debate about free speech in the workplace, specifically, what happens when an employee expresses an idea offensive in an organization’s corporate culture. In a written response to Googlers about Damore’s dismissal, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the diatribe violated “our code of conduct and cross[ed] the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Pichai’s response also noted that the company’s code of conduct requires employees to do “their utmost to create a workplace culture… free of harassment, intimidation, bias, and unlawful discrimination.”

Damore has since complained about his ouster to federal labor officials, saying Google is trying to silence him. However, attorneys knowledgeable about labor law say companies can legally prohibit speech and behavior that either harasses or discriminates against other staff. Furthermore, an organization may fire employees who violate the employer’s values.

Does doing so squelch free speech or provide a safe work environment?

Discussion

  1. Does Google’s firing of James Damore go against its own platform of encouraging its employees to speak their minds?
  2. What impact might Google’s action have on other employees at the company?
  3. Do you think employees should have free rein to say anything in the workplace environment?

 

 

 

 

Perfecting Peer Editing

by Dana Loewy, the Guffey Team

Many studies point to the benefits of peer editing, but I admit to sometimes having my doubts after seeing the results of peer editing sessions in my lower division classes. However, I’ve come up with a series of steps that result in better outcomes.

Step 1  I collect first drafts and skim the content without grading. Instead, I compile a list of the most common misunderstandings and errors, such as lack of comprehension of the assignment, format, or mechanics. After the session, I e-mail or post the revision tips, or I bring them to the editing session, depending on the course format, online or in-class.

Step 2 I scramble the unmarked first drafts and distribute them among students so that no one reviews his or her own document. I tell the students to look for specific features, but not all at once. Rather, I announce the feature to examine, say, format. I request that they mark up the document. Then I give students time to evaluate the layout and formatting and invite questions, answering them when they are relevant. Such instances present a wonderful teachable moment! We move from feature to feature so students read the document looking only at the single element we are scrutinizing. Students are engaged and actively learning.

Step 3  When we’ve gone through all the elements, I ask each editor to jot down 2-3 positive aspects of the document they reviewed and 2-3 aspects that needed improvement. Time permitting, I ask students to pass on the reviewed documents two seats down to a second editor, again making sure that no one revises his or her own writing.

Step 4  After the second round of editing, the marked-up documents are returned to their authors, who complete their revisions at home and bring the second draft to the next class session—with the marked-up first draft stapled to the revised version.

This staged editing procedure has many benefits for students. Because they more readily find errors in their peers’ writing than in their own, reading other students’ writing provides them with perspective on their own work. Likewise, students benefit from my instructions directing them to pay attention to specific elements I’ll be evaluating when I grade the assignment.

For instructors, the plusses of this process are also clear. Most important, I find the work I grade much improved. Additionally, students appreciate the “freebie” of being able to revise their writing at home—they even view me as more supportive to their efforts, a real bonus! From a pedagogical standpoint, the guided revision puts the onus on students to do the work. And while some go to the writing center where they may receive too much help, they are learning, which is what counts!

Ultimately, I have found that peer editing can be an invaluable teaching tool.

——————————-

How do you incorporate peer editing into your classroom? Share your stories