The Client-Based Program, created by the late Dr. Summer Smith Taylor, matches Clemson classes with local clients who need communication deliverables. Students in the classes work in teams to create the deliverables needed by the clients. Entire classes work with the same client on similar documents. The clients (non-profit agencies, public schools, corporations and university departments) publish and distribute the deliverables written by students to meet needs in their operations.
Since 2003, over 167 classes, 5,200 students, 30 faculty and 325 clients have been a part of the program. Students have produced over 1,006 deliverables, ranging from white papers and research reports to fact sheets and brochures, from poster presentations and instruction manuals to web sites, multimedia presentations, and radio, TV and print advertisements.
The program is designed to help students learn communication skills that will transfer to the workplace. Students are exposed to the complexities of actual audiences and actual needs, and they learn to solve problems through writing. The projects, and the enthusiastic involvement of the clients, demonstrate to students the value placed on communication in the workplace.
If you would like more information on the program or to get involved, contact Ashley Fisk at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Writing and Communication Awards
The Pearce Center awarded the second annual Professional Writing and Communication Awards for students and faculty who participated in the CBP. The first award was given to four students for the most well-written project for the client; it was judged on the written word as well as the visual, organizational and usability aspects of the product. Student winners received gift card prizes for their work. This year’s winners were Jennifer Roberts, Justin Robertson, Sophia Wilkins and Tehya James for the articles they each wrote for The Tiger in Mike Pulley’s CBP class. The second award was given to an instructor for the best CBP design based on the assignment and execution of the project, including client interaction with students. The faculty winner received a cash prize. This year’s winner was Mike Pulley for his classes’ project with The Tiger, as well as his many contributions to the CBP over the years.
Senior Lecturer, English
Our Amazing Clients
Clemson Area African American Museum
William Cunningham’s business writing courses worked with the Clemson African American Museum through the CBP. This program has allowed Cunningham’s students to write a South Carolina Humanities Mini Grant for the museum. Two of his spring classes continued this project. His third business writing class for the spring worked with Dr. Rhondda Thomas and her project entitled ‘Call My Name.’ This class worked to write a South Carolina Humanities Major Grant for her project.
Clemson Emeritus College
Megan Lee Pietruszewski’s business writing classes partnered with the Clemson Emeritus College, which houses 748 retired faculty members and serves to help faculty stay engaged during retirement. In the fall, students helped gauge faculty interest in future events, developed a marketing plan for the college with recommendations of future events, campaigns, logos and student organization partnerships, as well as conducted a content evaluation with recommendations for weekly newsletters, blog posts and website content.
Mike Pully’s Writing for News Media Class includes one section of 18 students who complete feature stories, news trend articles and data stories for The Tiger, Clemson’s student newspaper. Additionally, he teaches three sections of Science Writing and Communication, including 62 students, who work with the WID Channel. Students work in teams to complete instructional guides on how to complete common documents in the STEM fields for the WID Channel Website.
Clemson University has recognized the need to update its CU1000 module to include more detailed information about the new general education curriculum being implemented called Crossings. As it currently stands, the student body is largely unaware of both the new Crossings curriculum and the benefits of general education. Ashley Fisk’s business writing class’s second project with Bridget Trogden in Spring 2022 was to better understand what should be included in the Crossings module.
With a focus on gauging student opinion on Clemson’s general education courses, the class conducted research through a survey given to the current CU1000 students. These questions focused on students’ opinions towards the existing module and their thoughts on the necessity of general education.
Once the class received and analyzed the responses, they used that information to decide the best content to include in the module and how to effectively convey the information to engage students. The analytical report and oral presentation focused on current student engagement and understanding of general education, which will assist in creating a functional module.
The benefits of this data and module aim to assist Trogden in enhancing student interest and understanding of the importance of Crossings classes to their undergraduate education
Bridget Trogden, the associate dean for engagement and general education, division of undergraduate studies, partnered with Ashley Fisk’s business writing class on two projects. The first was to improve the Clemson students’ awareness of academic initiatives.
Because students are generally unaware of initiatives put in place by the University, individual colleges and departments, the class was tasked to create a marketing plan that would market these initiatives to undergraduate students. In order to target this market effectively, they utilized research concerning Generation Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) to determine the most efficient methods to gain their attention and engagement.
The class conducted primary and secondary research. Primary research was gathered through a questionnaire created on Qualtrics; this platform was also utilized to analyze the data collected and generate a report for Trogden. The students presented their final analysis of how to create more interest in Clemson academic initiatives through a recommendation report and oral presentation in front of peers. This information will assist Trogden’s team in exploring, evaluating and implementing new methods to attract students’ attention to these academic initiatives.
Ashley Fisk’s business writing class worked with Rene Schmauder, the director of undergraduate assessment. Schmauder had identified a disparity in communication and engagement between University leadership and students related to curriculum development and wanted to enlist the class’s help solving this problem.
Schmauder tasked the class with examining Clemson’s National Survey of Student Engagement results from 2016 and 2021 and then providing feedback in the form of a recommendation report. The feedback provided will allow the Office of Assessment of Undergraduate Studies to better utilize the survey results in the future. The class was divided into five groups with the 40 survey questions assigned
As a whole, the class identified patterns that they found interesting in each section of questions, such as demographic patterns and the continuity between questions in 2016 versus 2021. The purpose of this information, according to Schmauder, was to increase student involvement with the University’s decision-making processes. The feedback that the class provided will make the results more statistically significant and impactful.
How can I get involved?
Who can be a client?
Clients may be non-profit agencies, companies, public schools or university entities. Clients should be based relatively close to Clemson so that students can visit the client’s site when needed.
Who does the work for the client?
The program matches business and technical writing classes with writing projects suggested by clients. Students work in teams to complete the writing projects during the semester while receiving focused instruction from their teachers.
Students in the business and technical writing classes are juniors and seniors. They receive intensive training in effective writing for workplace situations. Business writing students are generally business majors, while technical writing students are generally majors in engineering, science, and agriculture.
What kinds of deliverables can be produced?
The students can complete revision and editing projects. Some classes can produce videos and other deliverables requiring specialized technologies.
In addition, the students can write:
• Web sites
• Fact sheets
• Grant proposals
• Research-based reports
• Spec sheets
• Employee handbooks
• Form letters
• Training manuals
• Operations manuals
• Radio advertisement scripts
• And many other types of documents
What is the production time?
Production time depends on the type of document you request and the number of students who work on that document. We can work with you to determine the schedule that is appropriate for your document.
A single team of students can generally complete a shorter document (such as a one- or two-page fact sheet) in about a month, or a medium-length document (such as a brochure or instruction manual) in a month or two. A class is typically divided into four or five teams, each of which would need a similar project.
Long documents (such as research-based reports) generally require the collaboration of several teams within a class. The teams usually work on these extensive projects all semester, or about three months.
What would I do as a client?
Clients collaborate with the program coordinator, a writing teacher, and students. The collaboration generally follows these steps:
- Client and program coordinator meet to brainstorm about potential writing or editing projects.
- Coordinator matches client with a teacher and class for the upcoming semester.
- Client, teacher, and program coordinator develop the specific parameters of the project, including the type of document, production schedule, and number of students needed to complete the document.
- Once the semester begins, students become acquainted with client via email, guest visit to the classroom, and/or published information.
- Students learn about the operations and the communication needs of the client company or agency through a site visit.
- Students do necessary research and produce drafts. During this process, students learn relevant communication skills in the classroom and receive feedback from the client.
- Client and teacher evaluate the drafts, and the students revise them.
- Students deliver a document that meets the client’s needs.