Proposal Assignment

  • Reflection Essay Due: 2/9 Mon.
  • Proposal First Draft Due: 2/18 Wed.
  • Peer Review Workshop: 2/18 Wed.
  • Proposal Final Draft Due: 3/4 Wed.

Executive Summary

This assignment consists of two sections: Reflection and Proposal. Ultimately, you will pick an issue within the educational system and suggest feasible solution(s) to solve the problem that you address. However, we start with a minor writing assignment, a Reflection essay, in which you can discuss your personal experiences with the world of education. A general discussion of all your experiences with education will be too broad for this assignment. Consequently, you will want to choose a specific experience to discuss, or a specific aspect of education and your experiences with it. You might want to choose a specific institution to deal with. If you have just left high school or another educational institution, your reflection essay might be directed at that place or you might mull over any experiences with UB. The goal of the writing the Reflection will be to understand a certain experience of your education and then expand it for your Proposal essay.

The second task of this module – writing a Proposal – will ask you to take up the role of the problem solver. Based on your discussion in the Reflection essay, you can fully develop one issue with education system. Our readings also will explore different sets of issues in the education system such as challenges of first-generation university students, problems of student loans, and difficulties of fostering creativity in schools. You can pick one of these issues and develop further, or you can address any issues you think important while you draft the Reflection. You will not be writing a formal proposal. Formal proposals (such as those written to win federal grants) are highly specialized genres, and we will not be focusing on the particular technical details of such proposals. Instead, you will write in a more conventional essay format that takes up the rhetorical task of making a proposal. That is, your job in this assignment is to gain the support of fellow students, teachers or faculty, and administrators for the actions you suggest. You will need to explain the crucial issue that you discover from the education system and convince your audiences that your suggestions will help solve this issue. Furthermore, you will need to convince them that the resulting benefit for them will outweigh whatever cost is involved.

The Process (Part 1: Reflection)

  1. Point of View: the tone and style of your reflective essay is going to be based on which role you feel comfortable taking up. When writing to reflect you can choose between the role of detached observer or participant observer (JTC 136). Still further, you can work to find a middle ground between these two positions.
  2. Choosing a Topic: one of the key elements in finding our role as a writer is finding what we want to write about. If you choose to write about a specific experience you might want to take up the participant observer role and give a more intimate reflection. This would correspond to the sub-genre of the education narrative: a narrative of events that influenced your identity as a student. On the other hand, if you choose to write about a specific aspect of your education and your experience with it, you might then want to take up the role of detached observer. Here you would discuss a certain topic in education and relate it to the boarder context (JTC 124-127).
  3. Reading and Discussion: Alongside developing your personal narrative, we will also read some essays concerning education system. As you read through the reading materials, you will need to identify key issues that the writer addresses and then try to figure out how you can develop that same issue within the scope of your experience.
  4. Writing the Reflective Essay: This is our first writing assignment and as such will be your first chance to work on developing your writing process. Part of this will involve working on skills such as time management.

The Process (Part 2: Proposal)

  1. Reading and Discussion: for this assignment we will be looking at sample proposal essays of our textbook and outside readings. Read carefully and try to establish which areas of the essay reveal rhetorical characteristics of this genre. The first step to understand the genre conventions is to deem yourself as a problem solver.
  2. Experience and Observation: think about your experiences in high school and now in college. Pay close attention to your classrooms and other learning spaces (e.g. the library), as well as the activities that go on there. In determining the problem you are going to deal with, is it going to be curricular or extracurricular? Ex. Curricular – the problem of standardized testing. Extracurricular – the quality of school lunches. Who is going to be your audience? Professionals? Parents? Other students? Administrators?
  3. Writing the Proposal: give yourself some time to write this. Bounce your ideas off your friends and classmates. They spend a lot of time on campus. I’m sure they have some thoughts on the matter. Their responses might also give you some ideas about how to approach your audience in a more convincing manner.


  • Your reflection must be a minimum of 500 words (2 pages) in length.
  • Your proposal must be a minimum of 750 words (3 pages) in length.
  • You must participate in the peer review workshop.

Evaluation Criteria

You will be evaluated by the following criteria, roughly in order of decreasing importance:

  • Reflect on topic in relation to education system
  • Propose a way to improve the education institution of your choice
  • Demonstrate understanding of genre conventions of the Reflection and Proposal
  • Use of personal experience and observation
  • Ability to address multiple audiences: peers, faculty, and administrators
  • Thoughtful response to workshop feedback
  • Clarity of writing (use of revising and editing skills)
  • Spelling, grammar, other stylistic concerns.

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