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 six 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. This year’s winners were Alexander Lake, Errol Shaw, Jacob Hsu, Morrison Creech and Tyce Miller for their informational pamphlet about the Woodland Cemetery for Sarah Richardson’s CBP class. Jennifer Roberts was also selected as a student winner for her article about the Sloan Street Tap Room for The Tiger in Mike Pulley’s 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. This year’s winner was Katalin Beck for her class project with the Clemson Makerspace.
Senior Lecturer, English
Our Amazing Clients
Woodland Cemetery Preservation Project
Sarah Richardson’s Fall English 1030 class worked alongside Clemson’s Cemetery Preservation Committee to create materials to educate the undergraduate student population about the historic preservation project on campus. The class’s project tackled topics of race, gender and class while addressing how historical information — and how we communicate and write about it — shapes our understandings. The documents the class created focused on four areas: the silencing of the cemetery’s history; the launching and importance of the preservation project; the understanding of how race, gender, class and religion impact the campus now and in the past; and the next steps of continued community participation. This partnership with the Cemetery Preservation Committee allowed students to provide ideas about reaching Clemson’s undergraduate community in a way that would resonate both with their age group and the level of information about the University that students have when they first come to campus.
Centerville Elementary School Reading Buddies
Phil Randall’s Fall English 1030 class paired up with a third-grade class in Anderson, South Carolina to support their reading, writing and college aspirations. His students became reading buddies with students at Centerville Elementary School, including video chatting about a reading assignment and writing letters about what they learned. A highlight of the semester was a field trip to campus where the elementary schoolers got to meet their reading buddies, visit a college classroom and even stop for ice cream at the ‘55 Exchange. Randall’s class also created a newsletter for the parents and students of the third-grade class called “The Reading Ram” that included topics such as how parents can impact their children’s reading abilities, the benefits of reading at school and at home, book recommendations and an illustration to color. But the third graders weren’t the only ones who learned something from the partnership; Randall’s students learned valuable communication skills, including information design, writing for a variety of audiences and writing for a newsletter.
Journalism Experience with The Tiger
Mike Pulley’s journalism classes are unique: their classroom operates like a functioning newsroom. Working with The Tiger student newspaper, Pulley’s students wrote news articles and features for publication, complete with the proper style and formatting for a newspaper. His students had a real and specific audience for their writing, and they advanced their critical thinking, creativity and research skills by coming up with and writing about topics that are relevant to their audience. First, they had to conceptualize what news is, especially for the paper’s audience, and then they conducted primary research for their stories. The students employed online research, interviewing and notetaking skills, often talking to high-level University officials on a professional level they have never experienced before. They were also responsible for taking photographs suitable for publication to accompany their story. In addition to aiding The Tiger by providing quality content on stories that would otherwise be overlooked, these students contributed work that helps to boost campus discourse, gained confidence and skills to prepare them for the workplace and had the opportunity to see their work published as undergraduates.
Jasmine Road Research and Grant
In both the Fall and Spring semesters, Will Cunningham’s business writing classes worked with Jasmine Road, a nonprofit residential program for
women survivors of human trafficking, prostitution and addiction in Greenville. The nonprofit needed help gathering research for their fundraising efforts and needed skilled writing for their grant applications, which aligned well with the capabilities of Cunningham’s classes. In the Fall, the class completed a research report on Jasmine Road’s five impact areas, and they used that report to write and submit a $25,000 Bank of America grant. In the Spring, the class revised and updated the research report and wrote a $20,000 TD Bank grant. Both semesters, the organization’s leadership met with the class and shared lunch prepared by Jasmine Kitchen, their social enterprise lunch cafe that provides job training, employment and career building opportunities for survivors. Cunningham’s students were very excited about their partnership with Jasmine Road, and they gained valuable experience in grant writing and client work.
Makerspace Usability Testing
Knowing the benefit of completing real-world problem-based projects, Katalin Beck partnered her technical writing classes with the Clemson Makerspace across both semesters. The client needed students with knowledge of usability testing and test data interpretation — skills learned in Beck’s class — to test and analyze their standard operating procedures. To test the SOPs, the students worked in pairs. One student was the usability testing subject, who used the SOP for a 3D printer, laser cutter or vinyl cutter. The other student was the test administrator, who observed the test subject following the SOP to complete their task. The test administrator collected pre- and post-task survey data and took observational notes. The student groups then aggregated, analyzed and reported the data in a usability report and presented their findings and actionable recommendations in a meeting with the client. Beck’s students had the empowering position of tackling a tangible documentation problem and using their writing skills for a real-life challenge. Working for a client, instead of working for a professor, is the real test of students’ understanding of what audience-centered writing and real-life project management mean.
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.