Looking for a Nice Little Persuasive-Message Assignment?

This term I tried a new persuasive-message assignment that worked well, so I thought I’d pass it on to you.

It asked students to recruit student volunteers for local non-profit organizations. You can view the complete assignment here.

The students did well on this assignment, and they seemed to enjoy it. I liked it because it required them to . . .

  • Do a modest amount of research and learn about real organizations,
  • Find photographs that would support the persuasive purpose of the message,
  • Write a substantial amount of engaging, easy-to-follow text,
  • Identify appealing reader benefits (in the absence of monetary reward),
  • Answer all the reader’s likely questions, and
  • Lay out the contents in an attractive way that would maintain reader interest.

Even the weakest students in the class seemed to get into the spirit of this assignment and learn something from it.

What helped was that the class did the assignment in stages. First they had to search for possible organizations and choose two that interested them. They brought information about these organizations to class and worked in groups to help each other choose the more promising of the two and then identify possible reader benefits for the recruitment message. Next, they brought in their drafts, several of which we discussed, and then edited a partner’s paper.

I was pleased with how seriously the students took this project. Perhaps it was because the scenario was realistic. Or perhaps it was because they like the idea of community involvement (Gen Y-ers, by all reports, want to do meaningful work, and many of them have gone, and now go, to schools that promote civic engagement).

If you try this assignnment, let us know how it turned out. Or if you have a different persuasive-message assignment that has worked well, please share it.

2 thoughts on “Looking for a Nice Little Persuasive-Message Assignment?

    • With one or two photos (most people used just one), a nice-sized title, the body text, and ample white space, the papers turned out to be about 3/4 of a page long.

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