Dordt College News

Writing they can use

August 20, 2011

Enrollment keeps growing in English 305, Business and Technical Writing, and some students think it should grow even more.

“The class is practical for any major,” says Bekah Van Maanen, a senior mathematics and computer science major. “It helps you see how you might use what you’re learning after you graduate.”

“It’s a good elective for anyone,” agrees Brittany Gritters, a business administration major.

Dr. Leah Zuidema’s students practice the kinds of writing they’ll have to do in a job after they graduate. For their main project, each student proposes a significant written piece for which they work with an outside client. The class chooses the projects they think would work best and then divides into small groups to tackle them.

Van Maanen and Gritters, along with business finance major Kyle Van Otterloo, worked with Rock Valley Christian School to create a website to help with fundraising for an addition.

“When you’re primarily working for a grade, how you do on a project really only affects you,” says Van Maanen, the team leader. “We’re representing Dordt College to the community, and we want our work to reflect well on the college and serve those we’re working with.”

“Plus, when your work is so public, you want it to be not just good enough, but great,” says Gritters.

“I was ready to start applying my knowledge in real-life situations,” says Van Otterloo. “A grade can only take you so far; it is much more motivating to work on something that will help other people.”

Van Maanen and Van Otterloo also wanted to give something back. Both attended Rock Valley Christian School.

“Business and Technical Writing is appropriate for anyone who believes that writing well will be applicable in their professional or civil life,” says Zuidema, although she admits that most students don’t think about how good writing skills will help them be better school board members or committee chairs or parents. She points to Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

“We need to be ready to serve well,” she says.

Gritters, Van Maanen, and Van Otterloo say they learned how to be effective in a rhetorical writing situation, how to interact effectively with a client, and how to work and write collaboratively.

According to Zuidema, between 80 and 95 percent of writing in the workplace is done collaboratively. Learning to use programs like Dropbox and Google Docs gives students practical tools no matter what their major is. Last spring’s class included students majoring in engineering, computer science, music, theater, education, nursing, and business.

The diversity of majors adds to what students can learn from the course, too. Gritters, Van Maanen, and Van Otterloo combined what they’d learned in computer science, finance, marketing, and human resources to create an effective tool for Rock Valley Christian School.

“We like working on projects with Dordt students,” says Principal Brad Vis (’93).

“I‘m biased,” admits Vis, who taught two members of the group and is pleased with their work. “The website has been up since May, and we’re sending a link to all of our alumni as part of our Building Faith fundraising campaign. I think the best is yet to come.”

“The documents can be used for interview portfolios too,” says Van Otterloo.


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