Workplace Writing Unit Touchstone 1.2: Outline a Persuasive Proposal


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ASSIGNMENT: In your personal, academic, and professional life, you will encounter countless situations where you will need to convince family members, friends, coworkers, committees, and other audiences to adopt new policies, consider different processes and perspectives, or make changes that will impact others. Being able to convince others will allow you to have a voice in your own life and impact the lives of others. In order to do this, you will need to develop strategies for persuasion. You will be more convincing if you are able to provide credible evidence to support your point. Having valid and credible evidence to support your arguments plays a large role in how persuasive you are, how others receive your information, and the credibility you can build for yourself.

Following the Assignment Guidelines below, choose an argumentative topic to research. This will be your topic throughout the rest of this course, so the activities required for this assignment will provide the foundation for your future Touchstones. The topic for an argumentative research paper must be an arguable topic, meaning that it involves conflicting viewpoints. Additionally, it cannot be a topic that is already decided or agreed upon by most of society. You must state a clear position on the topic, and argue in favor of that position using logic and evidence. A good test of whether or not a position is an appropriate, arguable position is to ask yourself if a reasonable person would disagree. If not, the position is probably not an appropriately arguable position for this paper.

Touchstone 1.2 includes a research question, a working thesis statement, a detailed outline, and a reflection on this pre-writing process.

Sample Touchstone 1.2

In order to foster learning and growth, all work you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any plagiarized or recycled work will result in a Plagiarism Detected alert. Review Touchstones: Academic Integrity Guidelines for more about plagiarism and the Plagiarism Detected alert. For guidance on the use of generative AI technology, review Ethical Standards and Appropriate Use of AI.

A. Assignment Guidelines

DIRECTIONS: Choose a scenario below and create a research question, a working thesis statement, and a detailed outline. This outline will be your guide as you write your argumentative research essay for Touchstone 3. As such, your topic should be current, appropriate for an academic context, and have a focus suitable for a 6-8-page (1500-2000-word) essay.

Step 1: Select a Scenario and Topic

You’re going to begin your prewriting process by choosing a scenario so you can then start to brainstorm the problem you’d like to focus on. The scenario you select will help determine what type of problem you will explore in your essay, as well as what audience you’ll be writing for. Since you’re writing an argumentative essay, you already know your purpose is to persuade. But how you will persuade — what rhetorical appeals and research you will use — will likely depend on your audience.

You must choose one of the following for your essay:

Scenario 1: Community

  • Community-focused problems are issues that affect the daily life of individuals. These individuals can be from the same neighborhood, a neighborhood across town, or the same city. Have you ever wished the city would install more street lights, or put in a skating park, or do something about the persistent littering throughout the neighborhood? All of these are examples of community-focused problems.

    The goal of this scenario is to persuade a community group to fund the solution that you believe will address a particular problem and benefit the area. How will you persuade the community group to give you what you’re asking for?

Scenario 2: Workplace

  • Workplace-focused problems involve issues or needs that affect employees at the office, department, or company. Some examples of workplace issues might include poor communication between departments, wasteful spending, lack of work-life balance, or a desire to have on-site childcare. The goal of this scenario is to analyze the problem, and then develop a solution that you think will resolve or improve the situation for the employees. How will you convince management to accept your solution?

    If you are wondering which scenario would be best to choose, think about concerns, issues, or projects that you are passionate about in your own life and career. For example, as you think of this, if you keep coming back to how the empty lot on your block would make a great community garden space, you may want to consider choosing Scenario 1. If, on the other hand, your workplace is experiencing a delay in receiving supplies, and you want to explore a solution to this problem, you may want to consider choosing Scenario 2.

Once you select a scenario, focus on identifying a specific topic that you’d like to address and think about why that topic is important to you. Use the prewriting strategies you learned about in Unit 2 to narrow down your final topic.

Step 2: Determine Research Question and Working Thesis Statement

The research question and working thesis statement are the driving force behind your research and eventual argument.

Remember from the tutorial Identifying the Problem that a research question defines exactly what you are trying to find out. It will influence most of the steps you take to conduct the research. Consider what you need to know and research to persuade your audience. You may remember this research question from Anna’s example: How can a recycling program save the city money, both now and in the future?

Possible research question stems:

  • How will _____ benefit our workplace?
  • What steps will we need to implement _____ in the community?
  • What are the costs associated with _____?

Next, construct a clear and concise thesis statement that states your opinion or stance on the topic. Your thesis statement should be a single focused sentence, framed as an actionable statement that takes a clear position on the research question and includes your reasons for holding that position. Since this is about a problem and a solution, you would state the solution and why it is the best choice.

Possible sentence stems for your thesis statement:

  • In order to solve the issue of _____, the company should _____ because _____.
  • The most worthwhile program for our community is _____ because _____.
  • Implementing _____ would benefit our workplace because _____.

Step 3: Create Detailed Outline

For this Touchstone, you will use your communication skill to create an outline that includes the thesis statement for your argument as well as its main points, your specific persuasive approaches, and evidence used to support your arguments. You will have the opportunity to continue to practice pre-writing strategies like creating a solid thesis statement, identifying main and supporting points, and developing an effective conclusion.

The skills used in this Touchstone can be applied across both daily life and careers, regardless of the type of communication modality. Whether it is a formal proposal or a subtweet, thinking about your audience and using prewriting strategies makes for a more effective message, and makes you a more effective communicator. Using these skills can help you become an agent of positive change in your own life!

Your detailed outline provides a map of the argumentative research essay that you will write for Touchstone 3, including your key claims and the sources that support them. You may not have all your sources yet, and that is fine. The outline is a way to organize your essay and determine which areas (e.g. your sub-points) will require researched evidence as support.

Keep in mind: Refer to the list below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until it meets these guidelines.

Scenario and Topic

❒ Have you identified a specific topic/problem to be addressed and explain why this topic is important to you?
❒ Is your topic focused and arguable?

Research Question and Thesis

❒ Is your research question a single sentence, framed as a question?
❒ Is your working thesis statement a single focused sentence, framed as an actionable statement that takes a clear position on the research question and includes your reasons for holding that position?


❒ Have you included headings: one for each paragraph with a brief label of the paragraph’s controlling idea(s)? Your headings are typically your reasons for the position you state in your thesis statement. As such, you should usually think of them as your points of argument rather than as topics.
❒ Have you included an introduction, at least five body paragraphs, and a conclusion?
❒ Does your introduction include your working thesis statement?
❒ Do you have subheadings: two to five for each heading, indicating key points that support the controlling idea?
❒ Does your conclusion include notes on your final thoughts?
❒ Do you have sources: one to three for each heading, as relevant, indicating the support for the key points?
❒ For each source, did you include the author’s name and the idea or information relevant to your argument (e.g. “Lappé on mono-cropping corn/soy and production”)?

B. Reflection Questions Guidelines

DIRECTIONS: Below your assignment, include answers to all of the following reflection questions.

  1. Learning to conduct research is important because it is a skill you will use both in academia and in your professional life. It improves critical thinking and empowers you to find information for yourself. Consider the process of researching as a whole. What was the most challenging aspect of the process for you? (2-3 sentences)
  2. The working thesis statement is a proposed answer to your research question. It should clearly identify a debatable topic and take a position on one side of that topic. Analyze the effectiveness of your working thesis statement. (3-4 sentences)
  3. A detailed outline is an effective tool for laying out the progression of an argument. It allows you to consider the arrangement and organization of your ideas, as well as choose places to incorporate outside source materials. Review your detailed outline and summarize the argument you’ve presented. (3-4 sentences)
  4. You will use the same topic on three of the remaining Touchstones in this course. What kind of feedback would be helpful for you? What are specific questions you might have as you go deeper into the research process? (2-3 sentences)

Keep in mind: Refer to the list below throughout the reflection process. Do not submit your Touchstone until it meets these guidelines.

❒ Have you answered all reflection questions thoughtfully and included insights, observations, and/or examples in all responses?
❒ Are your answers included on a separate page below the main assignment?

D. Requirements

The following requirements must be met for your submission to be graded:

  • Double-space the outline and use one-inch margins.
  • Use a readable 12-point font.
  • All writing must be appropriate for an academic context.
  • Composition must be original and written for this assignment.
  • Use of generative chatbot artificial intelligence tools (ChatGPT, Bing Chat, Bard) in place of original writing is strictly prohibited for this assignment.
  • Plagiarism of any kind is strictly prohibited.
  • Submission must include your name, the name of the course, the date, and the title of your composition.
  • Submission must include your research question, working thesis, outline, and reflection questions.
  • Include all of the assignment components in a single file.
    • Acceptable file formats include .doc and .docx.
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