Writing@CSU: Composition Teaching Resources

Week 14: Monday, December 2nd - Friday, December 6th

Goals for this Week

  • Introduce types of argumentative appeals and provide students with an opportunity to practice making them. See Resources, below, for related activities.
  • Help students understand logical fallacies. Your goals is to ensure the students understand what types of logical fallacies exist and why each is problematic. T prepare to meet this goal, read over the fallacies identified in PHG and highlight the ones that you think they’ll be most likely to have trouble with in reasoning through their arguments. Then design an activity where students pick out logical fallacies from texts. Or, have them work in groups to write their own logical fallacies as models to "teach" the class. Another option is to have them look at each others' drafts of their arguing essays in search of logical fallacies. Many GTA's have developed useful activities for teaching logical fallacies, so ask what others are doing and check out the sample fallacies in the appendix.
  • Look at argumentative appeals and logical fallacies in texts that contribute to conversations about publicly debated issues.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to evaluate sample argumentative essays.
  • Review the goals and expectations for the arguing essay.

Connection to Course Goals

Learning to write appeals and to avoid logical fallacies will help students construct effective arguments. It also serves the larger course goal of developing critical thinking skills. To use appeals successfully, writers must have a strong sense of who their readers are. To avoid fallacies in argumentation, writers must critically examine their claims to ensure that they are being thorough, thoughtful, and fair.

Required Reading Assignments

  • Read about types of appeals on page 448 - 452 in the PHG and Rogerian arguments on page 452 - 455. For additional information on appeals, consult the Arguing writing guide on Writing@CSU.
  • Write a 2 - 3 paragraph appeal for your argument. This can serve as the introduction to your argument, or as draft work to be incorporated into the argument later on. At the top, write down who your audience is and post your appeal to the SyllaBase Class Discussion Forum.
  • Read the appeal posted above and below your own. Provide a paragraph response telling the writer what is working with their appeal (be sure to consider their audience) and what improvements could be made.
  • Read about logical fallacies on page 492 - 494 in the PHG
  • Read the sample essay(s) for essay 3.


Where to Look for Appeals:

  • Product labels (from shampoo bottles, skin creams, hair products, fancy beverages like Odwalla, food items, etc…)
  • Letters asking for donations (environmental groups, politicians, local clubs…)
  • Advertisements and full-page coupons
  • Bribe mail from phone, internet and credit card companies
  • Web-sites
  • Arguments found on line or in texts


A Group Activity for Helping Students Analyze Appeals:  Have students break into small groups (3-4) and give each group one or two sample appeals to look at. Put the following questions on an overhead for each group to address:

  • What is the writer's purpose?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What types of appeals do they use?
  • Are these appeals effective? Why or why not?
  • Do these appeals accurately represent a product or a situation? Are they fair to use? Why or why not?
  • What could the writers do to improve their use of appeals?

Allow each group 3 minutes to share their sample text and present some of their findings to the class. After all groups have finished presenting, emphasize that writers should use appeals to make effective arguments, but that they should also respect their readers and use the appeals fairly to represent their points (not to distort reality).


A Role Play Activity to Practice Using Appeals: Use this activity to get students thinking about how to appeal to an audience to meet a specific purpose. First, prepare five different tasks that require students to develop appeals. Print the tasks out and cut them into separate strips to distribute in class.

Sample Tasks:

  • Persuade your parents to give you $3,000 to start your own T-Shirt business
  • Persuade your landlord to let you have a pet goat
  • Persuade your best friend to go on a date with your 34 year old cousin

Then, break students into small groups (4 - 5) and have each group choose one strip at random. Once students have their strips, explain the following:

"Your group task is written on this slip of paper. Your group will have 10 minutes to develop an argument to persuade the rest of the class to act on. Someone from your group will then read your task to the class (the class will role play the designated audience) and you will have 5 - 7 minutes to present your argument as a group. Afterwards, the class will decide if your use of appeals was strong enough to persuade us to act on your argument. Be sure to anticipate opposing arguments along the way (as some of your peers may raise questions and objections to your claims). While developing appeals, also consider what your audience will value most. What are their needs and interests and how can you respond to these?"

Give students 10 minutes to prepare arguments before presenting. Tell students that they are free to add some inventive material to their situation (e.g. your cousin just got out of jail and he's feeling very low about himself - he needs a girlfriend to make him feel better). After each group presents, ask the class which parts of the argument were most effective, and which of the appeals worked best. Tell students to keep these observations in mind when writing appeals for their own arguments.