Chapter 10 Proposals: Formulating and Solving Problems Chapter overview

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Chapter 10

Chapter overview

  • This chapter looks at the genre of proposals. They are a form of problem solving, and the introduction mentions several common forms, such as the grant proposal.
  • The chapter presents readings, discusses components of proposals, and presents them as a form of persuasive writing.

Proposals have a dual purpose:

  • They describe a plan of action.
  • They try to persuade the readers that these plans should be implemented.
  • This means that the proposal must inform readers about a problem and propose (argue for) a solution.

Many examples in real life

  • Business & Industry
  • Government
  • Education
  • All share a problem-solving mindset:
  • Gather data, look at options, and determine the “best” choice

Your own life

  • What are you going to do this weekend?
  • Eat out? Go to a concert? Rent videos and get pizza? Help a friend move?
  • You will need to gather data and make a decision.

Sample Proposals, Gelbspan

  • Ross Gelbspan, pages 320-322, “Rx for an Ailing Planet” on climate change.
  • Analysis follows on page 322.

Sample proposals, Trimbur

  • Lucia Trimbur, pages 323-328, on Amateur Boxers and their Trainers.
  • Analysis follows on page 329.

Sample proposals, Botstein

  • Leon Botstein, pages 329-331, “Let Teenagers Try Adulthood”
  • Analysis follows on page 331.

What is a research proposal?

  • In a sense, whenever a teacher asks you to write a short memo or e-mail, and attach a list of sources that you intend to use in a paper, it is a research proposal.
  • This serves as a starting point for discussing your ideas, your sources, and your overall plan for writing the paper.

Public Campaigns

  • Student Labor Action Project, page 332, “2006 National Student Labor Week of Action”
  • An example of a public campaign organzied over the Internet
  • See the full proposal at

Visual Design

  • See The Be Green Neighborhood Association’s “Proposal for a Neighborhood Street Tree Program” on page 333.
  • Compare the combination of visuals and text used by The Be Green Neighborhood Association with the essay form of Gelbspan and Botstein and the fieldwork form of Trimbur.

Writing Assignment

  • Write an essay proposing a solution to a problem.
  • Your instructor will let you know if your class will be doing this particular assignment, and provide you with additional guidelines.
  • See page 339 for options and details.

Invention strategies

  • Lists five steps, page 340.
  • Take inventory of issues.
  • Identify positions for issues.
  • Think nationally and internationally.
  • Narrow your choices down to three promising ideas, and then choose one.
  • Decide on your audience.

Analyzing background research

  • The text analyzes a problem, breaks it down, and looks at possible solutions
  • The text suggests using a simple chart.
  • It presents a list of four question.
  • It suggests five steps to look at the proposed solutions.

Analysis of sample essays

  • Looks at the way that the readings in the chapter presented the problem and explained the proposed solution.
  • In the case of the boxing proposal, about one-third is concerned with presenting the problem, and about half consists of explaining the solution. In contrast, Jenkins uses 80 percent of his essay to describe the problem and only 7 percent to the solution.

Developing an outline

  • See the guidelines for developing a working outline, pages 343-344.
  • Statement of the problem
  • Description of the solution
  • Explanation of reasons
  • Ending
  • You can’t do this sort of paper without a plan, and an outline will keep you organized.

Drafting and peer review

  • Use the outline to write your first draft.
  • Be sure to define the problem and link the proposed solutions in a “logical and compelling way” (page 344).
  • Then exchange drafts with a classmate, using the five questions on pages 344-345 to guide you in giving feedback to each other.

Revising your draft

  • Once you have received feedback, revise as necessary. The chapter gives an example of an early draft, and points out two things:
  • The proposal spends an equal amount of time on the problem and the solution.
  • The draft doesn’t separate the problem from the solution.

Sample proposal

  • See pages 380-382 for a student sample; this was actually written by three students working together.
  • It includes a discussion of the problem as well as a proposal for a solution, cites sources, and uses headers.
  • It’s done in APA style, so the list of sources is called References, not Works Cited.

Student’s commentary

  • The three students comment on their draft on page 350.
  • It presents three questions, page 351.
  • It suggests that you have a meeting to evaluate your work, if done collaboratively.

In conclusion

  • Pick a problem that interests you.
  • Use a variety of sources: print, people, and Web.
  • Work from an outline to draft your essay.

Student Companion Website

  • Go to the student side of the Web site for exercises, chapter overviews, and links to writing resources for this chapter:

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