2016-2017 Catalog

Writing in the Discipline - Computer Information Systems

Programs Involved: 

B.S. in Accounting 

B.S. in Computer Information Systems


All accounting and CIS majors are required to take ENGL 230, Writing for Professional Settings. Students practice writing and gain confidence in preparing memos, letters, reports, presentations and work on collaborative assignments. All majors are required to take 4 management courses that are designated as writing in the discipline courses. In MGT 301, Foundations of Management, students receive writing instruction on writing management reports, which include fact and data analysis and making recommendations. In MKT 301, Introduction to Marketing, students learn how to prepare a strategic marketing plan. The other WID required management courses are MGT 341, Business, Government and Society and MGT 348, Operations Management. (See the approved Department of Management and Marketing WID proposal for additional details.) 

Writing assignments are integral to all accounting and CIS courses. Students in both majors need to have the ability to communicate with many constituencies and in many forms. Accounting majors learn how to communicate information to help users make smart decisions. Forms of communication include financial statements and related analysis, tax returns and tax advice, audit reports, client proposals and recommendations. CIS majors learn the conventions of program and systems documentation and how to communicate facts, ideas and recommendations in systems analysis and design projects. The department has chosen to designate the following courses as fulfilling the Writing in the Discipline component of the General Education program. All of these courses are required for the respective majors. 

ACCT 311 (External Reporting 1) and ACCT 312 (External Reporting 2): Students usually take these courses in sequence in the junior year. These two courses cover the core accounting standards that are used in financial reporting. Writing assignments include requiring students to explain and interpret accounting standards and conventions and to apply them to current financial reporting issues. Assignments include requiring students to form an opinion and then construct a logical persuasive argument to support their opinion. Students will have opportunities to receive feedback and improve their writing, typically from multiple brief assignments. These writing assignments usually count toward 10% of the final grade. 

ACCT 461 (Seminar in Accounting Theory and Practice): ACCT 311 and ACCT 312 are prerequisites for this course. Approximately 8 cases may be assigned during the semester. Students are required to write a report that analyzes the accounting policies and financial statements in the case, along with making a recommendation on whether to purchase the company’s stock, supported by the analysis. Typically the instructor does one sample case at the beginning of the semester to provide a model for students to follow in these assignments. The case reports average 4-5 pages and are graded on 3 criteria: content, organization and presentation. The writing component is addressed in the presentation criteria and this includes written text as well as communication using graphs, charts and other illustrations. These case assignments typically count toward 40% of the final grade. A semester term paper may be required that requires a student to explain an accounting policy and illustrate how this policy has or will impact the financial statements of a public corporation. Typically this paper would count for 15% of the final grade. 

CIS 455 (Database Programming): The prerequisites for this course are one programming course and completion of CIS 352, Management Information Systems. Students are assigned a comprehensive project that counts toward approximately 30% of the final grade. The writing and documentation required to complete the project accounts for approximately 20% of the project grade. The project has 3 phases. The first phase, defining the problem, requires the student to prepare a statement approximately 3 pages in length. The second phase involves designing and programming the application that solves the problem. Students work collaboratively on this phase and prepare a description of their solution along with appropriate documentation including tables, flowcharts, forms, data dictionaries and queries. The third phase requires the student to report on their experiences citing what worked, the most challenging parts and how their experience could be improved. The entire project, on average, is 30 pages in length. 

CIS 462 (Applied Software Development Project): One of the prerequisites for this course is CIS 455. Typically students work on a comprehensive systems development project. Students prepare a comprehensive report that covers the planning, analysis, design and implementation of the project. The report is prepared in phases and counts for approximately 60% of the course grade. 

Assessment of writing in these courses will be developed and incorporated into overall department assessment plans.