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Some Helpful Hints for Drafting Portfolio 2 (Kiefer)

As you've noticed, the work for portfolio 2 gets underway very quickly. Here are some ideas that you should keep in mind as you work on the portfolio:

Purpose - You must take a position and defend or support it in each essay in portfolio 2. This portfolio calls for convincing and persuading essays, not simply explanations of the possible positions within a controversy. Moreover, the two essays need to be distinctive. Convincing will focus on getting your audience to agree with your point of view; persuading will concentrate on arguing for a particular solution or otherwise getting readers to act upon your argument.

Audience - Clearly defining your audience is a key to a successful portfolio.

It's easiest to convince an audience slightly antagonistic to your view or neutral on the topic. It's harder to convince readers who adamantly oppose your position, but you're welcome to take on that challenge. "Preaching to the choir" or writing to convince readers who already agree with you often seems pointless to writers, and these audiences don't tend to inspire particularly effective papers.

It's easiest to persuade readers who already mostly agree with you but who aren't yet committed to action or to readers who are neutral or uninformed about the importance of taking action. It's almost impossible to persuade readers who disagree violently with your position because first you have to convince those readers to agree with you and then persuade them to act with you.

So you'll need to define different audiences for the two papers in this portfolio. Here's an example. The city of Fort Collins recently extended free Transfort rides to CSU faculty in an effort to reduce air pollution from car traffic in town. Students have ridden for free for a long time because part of their student fees go to support Transfort. Some students now feel that their student fees are subsidizing free faculty rides on Transfort. You could write a convincing paper to these students to get them to agree that faculty rides on Transfort provide a partial solution to bad air days in the Fort. You could write a persuading paper to faculty to get them to take advantage of the Transfort rides.

Focus - A narrowly focused, clearly stated claim is both easier for readers to grasp and easier for you to defend or support. Be sure, too, that it isn't offensive as it states your position. You gain no advantage by offending your readers at the beginning of your argument.

Development - Details stick in readers' mind and convince/persuade more effectively than do general statements. Check each reason in your argument and make sure you back it up with adequate support. It's a good idea to do a Toulmin analysis of your own essay to check that each reason is clearly stated and fully supported with convincing/persuasive evidence.

Sources - Don't ignore experts at CSU or contacts through the CSU/county extension service. City officials might also be helpful in providing information about planning and zoning; streets, parks, and other budgets; City Council initiatives for the environment; and so on.

If you are working on topics related to forestry, fish and wildlife services, or state/national park management, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has a library you can use at their office on Prospect. We also have a U.S. Division of Wildlife here in town, as well as the local management office for the Roosevelt National Forest. Don't hesitate to do personal or telephone interviews if you need experts you can find around town.