San Jos´┐Ż State University - URBP 213
Professor Asha Weinstein Agrawal - Fall 2008

Persuasive Report Assignment

Overview and purpose

This assignment is designed to give you further practice writing clearly and persuasively, with an additional focus on organizing a longer piece of writing.  You will write a draft report of 1,400 to 1,600 words, get feedback from other students (and from Asha, if you wish), and then prepare your final report.  In addition, you will write a short memo reflecting on how you made use of the feedback you received to improve the final draft.

The assignment will give you the opportunity to practice:

  1. Writing a short report designed to convince an elected body of decision makers to support a planning-related policy.

  2. Incorporating informative tables or figures into written documents.

  3. Incorporating properly formatted source citations into written documents.

  4. Producing an attractive, professional-looking report.

  5. Refining your skills at tasks we've worked on earlier in the semester, such as giving and receiving feedback, writing clear sentences and well-focused paragraphs, and organizing your material with a logical, easy-to-follow structure.

Due dates


1. Pick a topic

You may chose any planning-related issue that interests you, as long as it lends itself to a short report in which you try to persuade a body of elected officials to take a particular action.  For example, you might write a report urging the Richmond City Council to pass an ordinance requiring that all new city buildings meet the so-called "LEED" standards for green building.  Or you might write a report advocating that board members of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District allocate funds for a particular air quality improvement policy.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when choosing your topic:

2. Prepare a draft outline and report for Asha and your peers to review

First, prepare a Makay-style outline of the report.  At the top of the outline, include:

Use footnotes throughout the outline to site your sources, as needed. At the end of the outline, include a bibliography of all sources cited in the outline.  The footnotes and bibliography should be formatted in proper Turabian style.

Next, write a report between 1,400 and 1,600 words (excluding the footnotes, bibliography, and tables or figures).  Format the draft as if it were a real professional report, not a class assignment. The report must cite at least four different sources and must include at least two figures and/or tables.  You may format the report as a memo, or in a more traditional report format with a cover page.

Email the draft report and outline as two separate MS Word files to Asha before class on December 3/4.  In the subject line of the email, write "URBP 213 report: Your-last-name draft," putting your last name in the appropriate place.  In addition, bring to class three copies of your outline and draft (one copy is for you to work from, and the other two copies are for your feedback partners).

3. Prepare for an in-class feedback session with your peer feedback group on December 3/4.

Students will meet in groups in class on December 3/4 to discuss their reports. You will have about 30 minutes to discuss each paper reviewed by members of the feedback group. During the time spent on your paper, you will ask your partners to give you feedback on whatever specific issues you choose. Students will not  review your paper ahead of time, so you need to very carefully prepare a set of specific questions that the group can help you with during class. For example, you might ask group members to read just one page and give you feedback on how clear they find it and ideas for revising it, or you might ask your group members to look at your outline and give you ideas on refining it, or you might ask for ideas on improving the content and design of your figures and tables.

Remember: feedback is precious, so make sure you plan ahead to make good use of the 30 minutes you have with your feedback partners!

4. Prepare the final report and a reflective memo

Taking into account all the feedback you have received, prepare a final, revised version of the report and a short reflective memo commenting on what you learned from completing the assignment.  As with the draft report, the final report should be between 1,400 and 1,600 words, excluding citations, should cite at least four sources, and should include at least two figures and/or tables.  Use footnotes and a bibliography to cite your sources.

By midnight on Tuesday, December 16, email Asha two documents:

  1. A single MS Word file that contains the final report you prepared, followed by a short reflective memo of one to two pages.   Do not include an outline in this document.

    In the memo, explain what you learned from the feedback you received on your draft(s) and how you used that information to revise your draft.  Also explain at least two specific goals you have to improve your future writing, as well as feedback and/or revision techniques that you learned from this assignment that you can use the next time you prepare a professional or class writing project on any topic. (Do not just write about how you would revise this particular report.)

    The key to a good memo will be for you to describe very specific techniques you plan to use in future to achieve whatever broader writing goals you have for yourself.  For example, writing that you will "proofread more carefully" is not a specific, helpful strategy you can put into practice.  Instead, that is just a goal. If that is your goal, you would then explain what technique(s) you will use to make sure your future proofreading is more effective (e.g., read your paper aloud, print it out, look at it in a bigger text size on the computer screen, and/or do one more round of proofreading than you have done in the past).

  2. A pdf of your final report (don't include the memo).

    If you do not own the full Adobe Acrobat software needed to create pdfs, the computers in the department mini-lab in WSQ 218 have the required software. There are also various free, on-line programs that can create pdfs.

    Make sure that the pdf you create looks the way you intended.  Sometimes when Acrobat converts a file from Word to a pdf, stray errors creep in; you should check your pdf to make sure this hasn't happened.

In the subject line of the email, write "URBP 213 report: Your-last-name final draft," putting your last name in the appropriate place.

Note that there are no extensions of any kind possible for this last assignment, as I have only a few days to grade all the reports before final semester grades are due.


I will assess your grade for this assignment primarily on the quality of the final report and memo that you turn in on December 17, using the assessment form available here. In addition, I will take into account whether or not you completed all steps of the assignment.

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Page last modified on 21 October 2008