Proposal Assignment Directions
This various steps in this project are designed
to pull together the activities and work you will do in other course
assignments. Your ultimate task is to write a persuasive proposal about
a change you would like to see in your workplace or other organization of which you are a member.
You will begin by
identifying a problem, issue, or conflict and providing some background
on why this problem exists. You will then construct a convincing and
tactful argument about why your recommended change and course of action is both necessary and beneficial.
You will use findings from an interview with the key decision maker who would decide on your proposal to shape your content and approach. Additionally, you will use organization observations, interviews
and/or surveys with co-workers/organization members, and/or academic research articles to provide support and
justification for your proposal. You should
view your intended audience as the people, committee(s), or governing
body with the authority to enact your proposal.
This assignment has seven parts that run throughout the semester:
Part 1: Organization Selection Brainstorming
The purpose of this activity is to help you select a real life organizational setting and rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, and context) to write about throughout this project. Begin by listing at least 10 organizations of which you are or have been a part within the last few years. These possibilities can include jobs, school, internships, or clubs/professional societies, social, volunteer or religious organizations, sports and recreational groups, and more. You want to generate as many ideas as you can. Include this list with the posting that follows.
Once you are done with your list, choose the three that seem most promising and use the Organizational Selection Guidelines to help you evaluate whether it's a good fit for the advocacy proposal assignment. Write about the pros and cons of each of your three possible organizations, discussing potential problems, challenges, or needs within the organization that you might be able to address in this project. When you are finished, post your brainstorm to the discussion board thread called "Organization Selection Brainstorm".
Finally, you will respond to the Brainstorms posted by at least two of your classmates using the reply feature. Read each carefully and offer advice (backed up by explanation) on why you would recommend that the writer select one of the three topics/organizations. Part of your point total for this assignment is dependent upon completion of your responses to classmates.
Part 2: Pre-Proposal
Begin by reflecting on your reading response to Anderson Chapter 1, as well as problems or inefficiencies
you see within your three select organizations. Choose one organization that holds the greatest personal/professional interest and appropriateness to the advocacy proposal project. Write an informal, 250 word brainstorm
about the issue/problem, how it effects the organization/people, and how you might like to see it addressed. Make sure that the issue has at least some component
you can realistically argue for change about. The purpose of this
step of the assignment is to generate ideas and possibilities,
to produce a polished piece of writing. The more you are personally
invested in this issue and care about its outcome, the easier it will be to write your proposal.
When you are finished, post your brainstorm to the discussion board thread called "Pre-Proposal".
Part 3: Decision-maker Interview and Write-Up
After choosing your organization, your next task is to interview a decision-maker about a potential proposal. A decision-maker is the person (or persons) who would make a decision on whether to act on the recommendations in your proposal. The purpose of the interview is to provide you with context about the problem, the potential consequences of enacting it, the stakeholders involved, and the kinds of evidence that would likely make a difference in his or her decision-making process. Use the Conducting Decision-Maker Interview Guidelines to help you develop your interview approach and questions. Also, be sure to read pages 183-188 in your Anderson text for specific guidance on preparing for and conducting interviews.
Following your interview you will write up a report on your findings. This single-spaced memo (use a memo template in MS Word and refer to your Anderson text for formatting help) will include the following:
- Start with a background section about the project.
- Include a section on the details of the interview. Provide specifics about when the interview took place, where it was held, how long it went, and in general how it went.
- Include a section on results, describing what you learned. This should NOT be a transcript of the interview. Instead, summarize the interview and include a few direct quotes. Direct quotations are an exceptionally effective way to present data because they help personalize the subject for your audience.
- Discuss your reflections on the interview and how your findings will influence your approach to the proposal.
- Attach your interview questions to the memo as an appendix.
Part 4: Choose ONE of the following additional research activities and complete
For whichever of the three options you choose (interview, survey, published articles), you'll need to briefly write up (in no more than a page) what you did, why you chose it, how you approached it, and what you learned from it.
- Write up a series
of questions and interview at least one co-worker/organization member
Using the guidelines from Anderson, write a short set of
questions to use in interviewing at least one co-worker/organization member about the issue you will
discuss in your proposal. Be sure that you write/ask your questions in an open-ended
way so that your respondent(s) can answer in more depth than simply giving you
a yes or no answer. You
your questions and what
discovered from this interview.
at the end of your proposal.
- Create and conduct a short survey with multiple co-workers/organization members
Using the techniques you learned from conducting your decision maker interview, create a short survey that can be used to gather opinions and ideas from co-workers/organization members. Often, this kind of information can be used in a proposal to demonstrate support of ideas or the desire for a specific kind of change. Generally, this information is presented anonymously to protect the confidentiality of partipants, though you may use names to increase credibility with the permission of participants. You will need to turn in a copy of your survey along with a summary of your approach, what you hoped to find through the survey, and an overview of your results.
- Find and analyze at
least two published articles relevant to your issue
Using your professional publications and the
databases available to you through the library or your workplace, locate
at least two credible (and preferably academic) articles relevant to
the issue you have selected. Since you will be using this work to support
your proposal's argument,
you should try to find sources that take as diverse perspectives as
possible so you will be aware of the sub-issues you'll need to
You will need to provide bibliographic citations and brief summaries of each article.
Part 5: Proposal Draft
After completing your decision maker interview and other relevant research (organization observations, informal interviews or surveys
with co-workers or organization members, and/or academic research or professional articles), you will begin drafting your proposal. Your completed draft Proposal should be posted
on the Blackboard Discussion thread entitled "Draft of Organizational Advocacy Proposals".
Keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is to persuade others to accept or enact your reasoned recommendations. Readers want to know what the problem is, why it matters to them, how you plan to address, how much it will cost them, how it will be accomplished, and what the results will be.
Chapter 23 of your Anderson textbook offers a complete discussion of proposal development in greater detail, but the general structure is discussed below. Your
proposal should include the following sections (though some specifics may be merged depending on organizational setting and/or issue addressed):
Introduction (aka Executive Summary): Briefly summarize what you are writing about,
how and why your proposed idea is relevant to this
group and its objectives, and why this proposal has value for readers. Your introduction will do the following:
- Define the subject
- State the purpose
- State the main point
- Stress the importance of the subject for the organization
- Offer a brief background on the subject/situation
- Forecast the organization of the document
Problem: Identify the
problem your project will address and persuade readers that your proposal will offer a significant and worthwhile approach.
Your problem section will do the following:
- Define and describe the problem
- Discuss the causes of the problem
- Discuss the effects of the problem if nothing is done
Objectives: Briefly outline the objectives of your proposal based on the problems identified in the previous section. Objectives offer a logical component to your argument, helping audiences to see how your proposed actions in the next section will address the problems you have outlined. Your objectives will do the following:
- Describe the objectives of proposed solution without describing the solution itself.
- Briefly summarize the aims of the project for evaluation separate from the writer's particular strategies for achieving those aims.
Solution/Project Plan: Describe how you plan
to address the problem and achieve the objectives identified above and why this approach is justified. You are making a case here for why your approach is the most desirable way of achieving the objectives. Describe
the process, step-by-step, that your plan would follow. Describe the specific
ways your proposal would be enacted and how it is relevant and appropriate to the organizational context. Your solution section will do the following:
- Describe the plan's steps
- Identify and discuss the outcome
- Include findings from research, interviews, and/or observations to help support recommendations and approach
- Discuss how this solution affects stakeholders and how/why this plan is effective for the greatest good
Qualifications: Since you likely won't be enacting this proposal yourself, this section may not be necessary in this case. However, qualification sections generally describe the abilities of you or your team that make you the best choice for the work you propose. This section is an argument about your qualifications to complete the work you propose.
Qualification sections include:
- Describe personnel involved (with brief bios)
- Describe previous experience (especially as related to the project)
Costs/Resources: Summarize the advantages of saying yes to the proposal while also telling readers how much the project will cost.
Your cost section will do the following:
- State the costs without apology or sales pitch
- Immediately after, describe the significant benefits of approving the proposal
a detailed time-line for the project, listing deadlines for what
will be completed or developed by specific dates.
Conclusion: This is a concise restatement of your proposal and its benefits.
Your conclusion section should:
- Summarize the solution you propose
- Offer a thank you for your readers' time and consideration
- Provide information on how to proceed should readers accept your proposal
- Provide multiple means for readers to contact you (phone, email)
Part 6: Feedback and
Suggestions to Assigned Classmate's Proposals
at the Blackboard Discussion thread for "Draft Proposals",
read and provide thoughtful and in-depth feedback for your assigned classmate's
feature. Your comments should be equivalent to at least one page
in length, though you may choose to format it in a different way
(such as a bulleted list). Comments that simply tell the writer that they are doing a good job or that something seems problematic are NOT HELPFUL IF YOU DON'T ALSO PROVIDE AN EXPLANATION OF WHY. DETAIL IS IMPORTANT HERE AND IS THE MAIN CRITERIA I WILL USE IN GIVING POINTS FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT.
In providing comments, you
need to address the following:
- Does the overall proposal make sense?
Does it provide a clear understanding of the problem and how the proposed solution would address it? If not, where and how does it need to be made clearer?
- Is the structure
of the proposal appropriate and does it follow the assigned outline? Which sections need more detail (or less) and explanation? Where can the sections be made more persuasive?
- Do the sources used provide persuasive evidence
that help to provide insight for the issue? If not, what else
do you need to know? What suggestions
do you have for where to find this information?
- What other specific
feedback do you have for this author for how to improve this
Part 7: Final Proposal
After receiving feedback and suggestions on your Draft Proposal from
me and a classmate, revise your document so that it is polished, professional,
and persuasive. Read Anderson Chapter 9 for advice on developing a more effective writing style. Read Anderson Chapter 15 for advice on how to approach your revising process and priorities.
Your Proposal will be assessed based on how well you:
- introduce your subject and
provide contextualization of the workplace setting and issue
- identify the sources of conflict
or inefficiency that your proposal addresses
- argue for and support your
proposed idea in a way that addresses the concerns that
stakeholders and decision makers for the issue may have
- structure and organize your
document so that it follows the conventional format of a proposal AND facilitates clarity and ease of use for readers
- present your ideas in ways that are rhetorically-appropriate for your target readers, particularly in terms of the proposal's overall tone