WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 – MEMORANDUM
Purpose and Objective of This Assignment. A common form of technical communication in the workplace is the memorandum, even in the age of e-mail. Many people in organizations are now attaching memos to e-mail documents they have created in Word or in a PDF file. When memos are created in word processing software, they are formatted like traditional, hard-copy memos. Understanding memo formats and conventions (commonly accepted ways of writing memos) is an essential job skill. This assignment gives you the opportunity to develop this job skill. This assignment also addresses the objectives of the course listed in your syllabus.
Instructions. Use the following scenario and set of instructions to write your memorandum.
Every year, 200,000 American children are injured in playground accidents. The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), a nonprofit organization headquartered at the University of Northern Iowa and supported by the federal Centers for Disease Control, was established to reduce the number and severity of these accidents. Staff at the NPPS are interested in some feedback on the effectiveness of their web site. Study the NPPS web site and report your findings to NPPS in a memo.
Follow these steps to write a memo that gives NPPS staff feedback on the effectiveness of their web site.
- Study the measures of excellence in technical communication discussed in Chapter 1 of your text. You are expected to analyze the web site using these measures.
- Study how to analyze your audience and determine your purpose in Chapter 5 of your text.
- Study each of the major sections of the NPPS site at http://playgroundsafety.org/Focus on the site’s audience and purpose byconsidering the following questions: Who are the people and what are the organizations that make up NPPS? How do the authors of the site describe these people and organizations? How effective are these descriptions?
- Who is the intended audience of the NPPS site? How do the authors of the site attempt to appeal to the needs and interests of this audience? How effective are these attempts?
- What does the NPPS hope that readers will know or do after having visited the site? How clearly does this information come across on the site? How effective do you think this information is?
- Which aspects of the site are most effective in appealing to the needs and interests of the audience and in communicating the purpose of the site? Why do they work well? Which aspects of the site are least effective in appealing to the audience and communicating the purpose? What changes would you make?
- Present your findings in a 500-750 word memo to the NPPS staff. Note: You are writing this memo to the NPPS staff, not Professor Simmons.
- Before formatting and drafting your memo, study the guidelines for writing memos in Chapter 14 of your text. You are expected to follow these guidelines when writing and formatting your memo to report your findings to the NPPS.
Grading. Your memo will be graded on the following criteria:
- How well your memo meets the 8 characteristics of excellent writing from Chapter 1 of your text.
- How well you have analyzed the audience to whom your memo is directed (NPPS staff) based on Chapter 5 of your text. NOTE: You are to complete an audience profile sheet (one that covers the entire staff) found in chapter 5 and include it as the last page of your memo – it is a separate document that is for your use only, and will not be seen by the NPPS staff. This is to be included with your draft memo for this assignment.
- How well you have defined the purpose of your memo in one sentence that appears in the first paragraph of your memo and uses appropriate communicating and/or convincing verbs. See Chapter 5 of your text.
- How well you follow the guidelines for writing memos described in Chapter 14 of your text, pages 385-387. These guidelines include:
- analysis of your audience as reflected in your written memo
- proper format for memo that includes correct identifying information
- a clearly stated purpose in the introduction of the memo
- headings to help readers focus on the elements of the memo and understand the information included in the memo
- an appropriate summary
- adequate background information and discussion of the issue
- well organized information
- suggested actions to be taken are highlighted with bullets or numbers
- How well your memo addresses the questions in section 2 of the instructions.
- How helpful your comments are for NPPS so NPPS staff can adequately assess the effectiveness of their web site.
- Is this a memo that demonstrates you understand and can use appropriate memo format and content? Would this impress NPPS and your boss?
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