Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

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 

 

 

Bonus Case Study: Pesky Clutch Problems Plague Harley-Davidson

[Instructors: The following case study can be used for a discussion using the questions below. We also provide a writing assignment (and sample solution) that encourages critical thinking about audience awareness and choosing an organizational strategy for a message.]

Founded in 1903, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Motor Company is an iconic manufacturer of motorcycles with a loyal global following. The company also sells branded merchandise and apparel. Although most recently motorcycle sales have been trending down, Harley-Davidson is financially healthy, with a net income of $114.1 million on revenue of $1.27 billion in 2016.[1]

Manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson must ensure the safety of their products and fix any manufacturing defects. It’s the right thing to do. Customers correctly expect flawless operation of their pricey vehicles, and the organization’s brand reputation is at stake.

Also, consumers today are wielding a lot of power. In a 24/7 news cycle, social media outcries spread fast and carry far. This is why organizations err on the side of caution and issue recalls to repair their products and thus prevent potential injury as well as costly litigation.

What? Another Recall?

Owners of certain 2015-2016 HD models have had problems with the hydraulic clutch right after purchasing their bikes. The company then quickly issued a voluntary recall to correct the problem.

However, the hydraulic clutch engagement system keeps causing trouble. This time Harley-Davidson did not recall its vehicles, but it did decide to offer a free inspection by an authorized HD dealer, and, more important, to extend the factory limited warranty on the hydraulic clutch engagement system for five years. This warranty stays with the bike even if it is sold. The company wrote a letter to the owners of the affected motorcycles asking them to visit their authorized dealer to address the lingering problem.

Let’s Talk Strategy

[If you share the scenario with students, remove this discussion and address strategy in class.]

Is this a straightforward bad-news message? Does the pain the negative news might cause suggest the writer use a buffer and an indirect approach? The answer: This scenario requires tact but the approach should be direct. Despite the clutch problems, the audience is loyal to the brand. The writer has something to offer that is likely to offset any negative feelings. The goal is to prompt the reader to take action and bring the bike in for an inspection. A secondary goal is to maintain the customers’ goodwill.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Why did Harley-Davidson choose to write a letter to the owners of the affected motorcycles?
    Manufacturers know that most people take a letter on paper in their mailbox more seriously than e-mail. An e-mail message might be mistaken for promotion and overlooked in a busy inbox. A letter is tailored to reach its target audience. Because the defect doesn’t rise to the level of a recall, the company doesn’t need to make a public disclosure, risking negative publicity and perceptions of slipping quality.
  2. Why should the letter to the Harley owners be polite but direct?
    Harley-Davidson is not issuing a recall but is providing a remedy to a recurring problem. The issue isn’t likely to cause much pain other than being a minor inconvenience. The company is showing good faith as it stands by its products. Harley-Davidson has something to offer that the recipient of the letter will ultimately like and that will compensate for any disappointment.

Task. Write a letter that will be sent to all Harley-Davidson customers affected by the clutch problems. Address it to Ed Townsend, 1654 Wigwam Parkway, City of Henderson, NV 89011.

Solution: Harley Davidson Letter


[1] Bomey, N. (2016, October 18). Harley-Davidson plans cuts as sales, profit fall. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com

Sound Smarter—Grammar Guru’s Greatest Guidelines

 

Instructors: Download PDFs of the exercise and key at the end of the post.

Correct language use is one of the best ways to show an employer you are ready to contribute to an organization. Below are explanations for five of the most common mistakes the Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty, addresses on her often-quoted website, Quick and Dirty Tips. Use the sentences that follow the explanations to test your understanding of these confusing usage problems.

  1. Who vs. whom

A simple way to choose the correct pronoun is to change the clause needing who or whom into a question and then insert he for who and him for whom. If the sentence would use him, use whom. A mnemonic device to remember this trick is to note that both him and whom end with m.

EXAMPLE: To whom should the package be addressed?

The package should be addressed to him. Therefore, the correct pronoun is whom.

  1. E.g. vs. i.e.

E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning for example, whereas i.e. is the stand in for in other words. To remember this confusing set of abbreviations, think of e.g. as example given and i.e.as in essence.

EXAMPLE: Use numerals for entering your birthdate, e.g. 05-13-1996.

  1. Anyway vs. anyways

Anyway is the only correct word and is often used to confirm a point. Using anyways is simply wrong and exposes the user’s unsophisticated language use.

EXAMPLE:  Anyway, we are here to support the transition, so please write to us at help@editing.com with any concerns.

  1. Effect vs. affect

Effect is a noun that most often denotes a result. When used as a verb, affect frequently suggests influence. When used as a noun, affect refers to manifestations of emotions.

EXAMPLE: Poor management has a negative effect on employee morale.  Effecting change is difficult when workers resist new workplace initiatives.

EXAMPLE: The marketing campaign’s objective was to affect (v.) consumers’ emotions so they felt a need to purchase the product. The manager’s low affect (n.) was difficult to read.

  1. Alright vs. all right

Alright is never correct and should not be used in professional communication. The only acceptable choice is all right.

EXAMPLE: It is all right to use an electronic signature on the form.


Circle the correct word in each sentence. Be prepared to discuss why you chose that answer.

  1. A recent survey noted the many affects/effects of the proposed changes to the organization’s health care plan.
  2. We will consider all candidates whose applications are complete—e.g./i.e. include a résumé, letters of recommendation, and writing samples.
  3. The problem was resolved anyway/anyways when the IT staff rebooted the system.
  4. The interview was alright/all right, but the candidate’s writing samples failed to impress the hiring committee.
  5. Telecommuting provides employees with a valuable perk, e.g./i.e. flexibility to choose when to complete work.
  6. No matter who/whom is selected, someone is bound to be disappointed.
  7. When Damian was told he was let go, his affect/effect was blank, so we were unable to gauge his reaction.
  8. By the third interview, candidates should have a good idea whether the job is a good fit, e.g./i.e. whether they will seamlessly blend into the corporate culture.
  9. Employees for who/whom childcare is an issue prefer flextime schedules.
  10. Weak writing skills can negatively affect/effect
  11. Workplace harassment training is important for all who/whom want to be considered for managerial positions.
  12. Many customers were affected/effected by the data breach.

Key to Sound Smarter—Grammar Guru’s Greatest Guidelines

  1. A recent survey noted the many affects/effects of the proposed changes to the organization’s health care plan.

      Effects. The context requires a noun that suggests results.

  1. We will consider all candidates whose applications are complete—e.g./i.e. include a résumé, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

       e.g. The phrase requires the meaning example given.

  1. The problem was resolved anyway/anyways when the IT staff rebooted the system.

       Anyway is always the correct usage.

  1. The interview was alright/all right, but the candidate’s writing samples failed to impress the hiring committee.

       All right is the only correct form of the word.

  1. Telecommuting provides employees with a valuable perk, e.g./i.e. flexibility to choose when to complete work.

       i.e. The phrase requires the meaning in essence.

  1. No matter who/whom is selected, someone is bound to be disappointed.

Who. Ask the question, Is he/him bound to be disappointed? Only he would fit; therefore, the         correct pronoun is who.

  1. When Damian was told he was let go, his affect/effect was blank, so we were unable to gauge his reaction.

      Affect. The context requires a noun meaning the manifestation of an emotion.

  1. By the third interview, candidates should have a good idea whether the job is a good fit, e.g./i.e. whether they will seamlessly blend into the corporate culture.

i.e. The phrase requires the meaning in essence.

9.    Employees for who/whom childcare is an issue prefer flextime schedules.

Whom. Ask the question, Is child care an issue for he/him? Him is the only fit, so the correct pronoun is whom.

  1.  Weak writing skills can negatively affect/effect

Affect. The context requires a verb implying influence.

  1.  Workplace harassment training is important for all who/whom want to be considered for  managerial positions.

Who. Ask the question, Will he/him want to be considered? The only choice is he; therefore, the pronoun must be who.

  1. Many customers were affected/effected by the data breach.

Affected. The context requires a verb suggesting influence.


Sound Smarter–Grammar Guru Exercise

Key to Sound Smarter