writing a letter 11

Audience: The Instructor and Writer

Length: 700 – 1000 words

Writing a letter is something you’ll need to do at some point in your professional lives, whether it’s a cover letter for a resume, a thank you letter to a client, a complaint letter to a manufacturer, etc. Writing a good letter is all about precision and concision. It’s also about knowing your audience and being clear about your purpose.

For Project 4, this letter’s purpose is evaluate your performance this past semester by proposing that you’ve indeed grown as a writer through the work of the course and offer two reasons of support. “Grown as a writer” can (and should) mean different things for each student, so it’s critical that you focus on your personal experiences. The letter’s scope is limited, so your task is to curate the most specific and apropos reasons (rather than highlight all the reasons, this letter is only asking you to hone in on the two most influential). This will force you to be selective, which, in turn, will help you purpose your letter more clearly.

Each letter must have the following 5 parts:

  1. Opening Salutation and Proposition: Open the letter with a friendly salutation that leads directly to the proposition. The intro can discuss early expectations of the semester, perceived skills before the term, fears when writing the first-week online self evaluation, etc. Use this part to set up the rest of the letter’s content.
  2. Reason 1: A specific reason that supports how you’ve grown as a writer.
  3. Reason 2: A second specific reason that supports how you’ve grown as a writer.
  4. Closing Salutation: Close the letter with a friendly salutation that connects the proposition to your potential career/professional working life. The closing could also note areas that still need improvement, next steps, etc. Use this part to conclude the letter in an appropriate fashion.
  5. Enclosures: The evidence to support/show Reason 1 and Reason 2 in action. Include these documents as attachments to the letter. The enclosures should begin on their own pages after the letter.

The letter’s intended audience is me (and you, to a degree) and will reflect on the writing you have done for this course. This is a chance for you to take stock of your writing this semester. You should consider how your written assignments reflect the course’s learning goals (see the 11 NU Student Learning Goals in the syllabus) but please note that this is not an opportunity for you to try and convince me you have met the goals. Rather, it is an opportunity for you to say something about the writing you have produced this semester and what you may have noticed or learned about yourself as a writer in the process of producing that work. Your basic goal is to think critically about your writing and articulate your thoughts using a proposition and two specific, detailed reasons. Your letter will also provide evidence that shows the reasons in action (some example pieces of evidence might include peer reviews, rough drafts, model documents, etc.).

You’ve written performance evaluations for the three major projects this semester; this final letter is a chance to continue and, I hope, polish your ability to reflect and review by synthesizing your work from the semester and considering its connections (or perhaps lack thereof) to work outside of this course. You’re encouraged to use writing or sections of writing from your project performance evaluations, if they’re applicable for this final letter. The directions here for the letter are intentionally open so that you can create a letter that showcases your style in a way that’s appropriate for the work you accomplished.

Note: You will not be judged in the letter on how well you did in the other projects; therefore, you are encouraged to be honest in both your successes and difficulties, since you will be judged on your self-analysis. Remember… this is a 14-week course and there’s a limit to what can be accomplished. Be honest and specific as you analyze what you were (or were not) able to achieve. Sometimes acknowledging your shortcomings in a positive way can reveal just as much about your growth as highlighting your strengths.

A template letter is provided to assist you with formatting.

Criteria and Grading for the Performance Evaluation Letter:

  • Shows a strong understanding of the uses of writing in an academic discipline and/or career path
  • Demonstrates critical understanding of, and facility in, the discourse of business
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the importance of audience and context with respect to writing style and arrangement
  • Demonstrates written reflection on writing processes and texts and their role in the practice of critical reasoning
  • Demonstrates a strong understanding of purpose
  • Demonstrates a strong understanding of the letter genre
  • Demonstrates the ability to be precise and concise with language
  • Demonstrates a clear ability to write a proposition and support it with two specific reasons (with attachments that help to add further support and clarity)
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