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Persuasion Essay Assignment

For Portfolio Two

According to Crusium and Channell, authors of The Aims of Argument, a convincing essay follows an "x because y" structure. Your position in a convincing essay is based on careful inquiry and research into a controversial topic. Once you arrived at your position, you made an argument based on appeals to reason. Your goal is to convince your audience to agree with you. By contrast, your goal in a persuading essay is not only to convince your audience, but also to motivate your audience to take action. In addition to appealing to your readers' reason, in a persuading essay you must also appeal to their emotions. While appeals to reason influence the way readers think, appeals to emotion are more likely to influence the way readers behave. The distinction between convincing and persuading is a matter of degree in that you can not rely on appeals to emotion alone. You must use these appeals to reinforce already well-supported appeals to reason. You can easily find models of persuasion associated with public issues involving public policy and law. Election campaigns that have been presented via the media lately, for example, have tried to persuade you to vote in specific ways, and they have based their arguments on reason, emotion, and their character. Additionally, they try to appeal to you through style by using rhetoric they hope you will remember.

Appeals to Emotion

While appeals to reason engage a reader's mind, appeals to emotion engage the whole person in an argument. This combination of appeals is more likely to motivate a reader to act, and is therefore a particularly useful strategy to use when writing a persuasive essay. Appeals based on reason are central to academic writing, and because appeals to emotion can be misused, such appeals may not be acceptable in many of your academic classes and/or assignments. If you have any doubt about using appeals to emotion, talk with your instructor. When you do use appeals to emotion, use them carefully and responsibly. Use them when the emotion is appropriate to the issue, and when the appeal supports and adds to your appeals to reason. In academic writing, appeals to emotion should never take the place of sound reasoning.

Appeals to Character

When you do a thorough job of using appeals to reason in your argument, showing that you've carefully considered the issues, and done the necessary work to formulate a well-supported argument, you have shown the reader that you are trustworthy. Readers are more apt to consider your position if they believe you have sufficient knowledge of the subject, and if you show them that you care about their needs. This is one way of appealing to an audience through character. You can also engage readers with more direct character appeals. For example, if you are a parent, you may be able to appeal to readers who are parents more directly by making a connection between yourself and these readers. When a reader identifies with a writer, the reader is more likely to agree with and be persuaded by the writer.

Appeals to Style

You can appeal to an audience through style by consciously making your writing memorable. Try varying your word choice and the rhythm of your sentences. You can also vary the length of your sentences for different rhythmic affects. Work to make your prose more memorable by using imagery and metaphor. Be aware of the sound of the words and phrases you use. You can create a variety of affects by using repetition and alliteration.

Purpose of the Assignment

You must take a position and defend, support, and persuade your audience to take some action on some controversial issue. The purpose of persuading is to concentrate on arguing for a particular solution or otherwise getting readers to act upon your argument. Remember that in order to persuade, you must first convince your audience.


Clearly defining your audience is a key to success with your persuading essay. Remember, your audience for this essay will almost certainly be different than your audience for your convincing essay.

Who do you want to persuade? It's easiest to persuade readers who 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 you have to persuade them to act with you.


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


Details stick in readers' minds and persuade more effectively than do general statements. Check each reason in your argument and make sure you back it up with adequate, detailed 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 persuasive evidence.

Sources for a Convincing Essay

Don't ignore experts at CSU or contacts through the CSU/county extension service. City officials might also be helpful in providing information. Look also at City Council (and school board initiatives).

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, telephone, and/or email interviews if you need experts you can't find around town.

Page Requirement - Your persuasion essay should be 5 to 8 pages in length including your works cited page.

Due Dates:

Workshop (Essential and Mandatory) - Monday, April 12th and Friday, April 16th

If you want me to look at an intervention draft, you must submit it by Wednesday, April 14th.

Portfolio Workshop (Essential and Mandatory) - Monday, April 21

Portfolio Two Due - Wednesday, April 21st

Your final portfolio must adhere to the following submission guidelines: