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Teaching Persuasive Writing Skills Using Proposals And Cover Letters

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Writing and Communication I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1223.1 - 10.1223.11



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Paper Authors

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Elisa Linsky

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Gunter Georgi

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Persuasive Writing Skills Using Proposals and Cover Letters Elisa Linsky, Gunter Georgi.

Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York.

Engineers and Scientists are trained to present information as objectively as possible. While this is critical in the preparation of lab reports and in the dissemination of experimental results, technical professionals are often called upon to write persuasively. How do we teach our students to remain objective and still convince their readers that their idea, product, or solution is the best one?

In EG 1004 Introduction to Engineering and Design, the preparation of lab reports has been taught for a number of years. Recently, other forms of Technical Communication have been introduced. These include: technical presentations, software documentation, and proposal writing. To introduce the fundamentals of persuasive writing, our students respond to an RFP and prepare a funding proposal for a fictional organization. This semester, the assignment has been refined to include the preparation of a cover letter for the proposal.

This paper will discuss teaching the skills necessary to produce good persuasive writing in a scientific or technical context. The differences in student writing when a full proposal is assigned to the writing produced when just a cover letter is assigned will be discussed. Particular attention will be paid to introducing these skills without eroding the preparation of objective writing.


Engineers and scientists are called upon throughout their careers to write persuasively. They frequently have to sell the reader on some idea by outlining a convincing solution to a problem. In EG 1004, Introduction to Engineering and Design, the preparation of lab reports is the featured writing assignment. The mastery of this rhetorical exercise is critical to our student's success, but what about the persuasive writing situation? The lab reports they write are completely objective documents, even constructed in the passive voice to de-emphasize the person executing the experiment and focus on the action taken.

The introduction of persuasive writing skills into the technical writing component of EG 1004 has been accomplished by taking advantage of the course's semester long design project as a vehicle for instruction. By asking students to prepare a proposal, the instructional team is able to teach the fundamentals of persuasive writing within the context of a bona fide selling opportunity.

We were aware that there was a risk of diluting our ability to help our students master the preparation of lab reports by assigning a proposal, but we thought the necessity of teaching

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering

Linsky, E., & Georgi, G. (2005, June), Teaching Persuasive Writing Skills Using Proposals And Cover Letters Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15002

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