Making Proposals and Progress Reports
The objectives of this chapter are to
Explain the functions and varieties of proposals used in the professional world.
Explain the logic of the contents and organization of proposals.
Discuss the formatting and style options for proposals.
Explain the functions and varieties of progress reports used in the professional world.
Explain the logic of the contents and organization of progress reports.
Discuss the formatting and style options for progress reports.
Proposals: The proposal is one of the most interesting and challenging writing applications
in a technical writing course. The proposal gets right to the heart of what this course is
about—or should be. The proposal is a problem-solving document; it addresses intensely
practical matters; it must demonstrate a sound approach to a project; it must have a positive,
convincing impact on the reader; and its success has everything to do with the success of
organizations, communities, and individuals within them.
You can “sell” students on the proposal by emphasizing that it is a critical document that
professionals use to get work. It’s not only used externally by independents but also
internally within organizations. As organizations increasingly use the supplier/customer
model, they speak of hiring the “vendor of choice” supplier—even if it means going outside
the organization. Most students enjoy imagining themselves as independent consultants;
encourage students to create their own company names and fancy letterhead logos.
Proposal Contexts: But how can you re-create anything like this social and professional
context in our classrooms? Few students have real workplace projects to bring with them to
the technical-writing classroom; and the ones who do have a marvelous experience in which
education and workplace are bound tightly together. It may be impractical to ask students to
scurry all over campus and all over town looking for problems to fix and projects to launch—
like modern-day Don Quixote’s rattling about town in their aging Geos.
One alternative to sending students into the streets is to engage in what might be called
practical fantasizing. Consider the student who wants to write about global warming—great,
but for whom and why? “An informational report for anybody who is concerned about global
warming”—that’s not the right answer! But consider this bit of practical fantasy work: an
association of coastal real-estate developers is curious about the gloom-and-doom predictions
involving global warming. If those predictions are even half-true, there will be a huge impact
on their business and investments. To get some answers, they send out proposal requests to
experts on the subject. Enter your student (cast as the expert consultant). This practical
fantasizing can be fun for students. They make up their own consulting firms, for which they,
of course, are the CEOs; and they relish deciding on their hourly rates and per-diems!
Another alternative to the problem of proposal contexts is to use your course as the context.
The proposal need not be a “realistic” document in the sense of a project somewhere in the
“real world” students are bidding on. Students can address the proposal directly to you, the
instructor. Their proposals can seek to convince you of the viability of their report-project
ideas. An example of this approach in shown in Research Report Proposal, Sample
Definitions of proposals: One problem with proposals is that they mean different things to
different people. Ensure that students understand the term “proposal” as it is used in
Reporting Technical Information: a document that seeks approval, funding, or a contract to
do a project. It may contain other material, but it is supporting material designed to convince
the audience that the writer is qualified to do the proposed work.
Some students mistake the “great idea” report for the proposal. For example, an enthusiastic
student wants to do a “proposal” on a great idea for installing those inexpensive video and
audio devices on computers to enable direct communication through intranet Web pages
(wouldn’t it be great!). The student wants to show how this great idea would work, how
much it would cost, and what its advantages would be. Without dampening this enthusiasm,
we have to find ways to help students like these understand that this great idea is not a
proposal. It’s more of a feasibility project. However, this idea can be turned into a proposal.
With some practical fantasizing, the student can imagine that an organization has sent out an
RFP for a feasibility study on using audio/video equipment in conjunction with intranet Web
facilities. To get the job, this student needs to write a proposal.
Boilerplate thinking about proposal structure: Another problem with the proposal is to
find a way to get students to understand the internal logic of the proposal and get beyond an
unthinking, boilerplate approach to its contents and organization. Students also need to
understand the wide variability of proposal contents and organization. They need to
understand that one proposal may necessitate theoretical background; another may not. One
proposal may discuss the procedures to be used in the proposed work; another may not. To
address this variability, get the class to brainstorm several hypothetical proposals, exploring
which contents would be needed and which contents would not.
Confusion between proposals and reports: One more problem with proposals is that some
students just can’t seem to conceptualize the proposal and keep getting it mixed up with the
technical report. Typically, these students will find themselves writing the final report, or
some sort of technical report, thinking it’s the proposal. Indeed, proposals provide some
background on the problem being addressed or on the theory and procedure to be used in the
proposed work. Sometimes, proposals provide a glimpse of the work to be done—but only a
glimpse. Typically, students will complain that they just can’t write the proposal without
more time for research and that they feel as if they are having to write the final report. That’s
where you can provide the proper perspective on how background information or previews of
results and recommendations function in a proposal.
Progress reports: The progress report is a natural follow-up to the proposal. Tell your
students that now that they have “that big contract” and are “raking in the big bucks,” they
need to write periodic progress reports. Some of your students may need help understanding
the point of the progress report. Once they get a good look at what it entails, some will object
that they will be wasting the time that they could be using on the research report itself. From
their point of view, they will be spending as much time on the progress report as the research
Complaints about progress reports and status reports are not unique to technical writing
students. Many professionals complain about the progress reports as well as the weekly,
monthly, or quarterly status reports they must write. Students may need to be convinced of
the value of these types of reports, which is discussed in the textbook. One of the central
themes is professionalism—which underlies much of what we do in a technical writing
Here are some classroom ideas for helping students learn about proposals.
Traditional Classroom (Proposals)
1. Apply the proposal checklist. A good classroom exercise is to use the proposal checklist
at the end of the chapter to analyze the example proposals shown in the chapter or
contained on the Companion Web Site (www.oup.com/us/houp). Students tend not to
read the examples carefully and thus miss the extra exposure to the contents,
organization, and format of proposals. Also, students tend not to use checklists when they
are completing their own drafts and thus fail to include certain key components of
proposals. Applying the checklists to the examples in the book may help in both these
2. Show-and-tell proposals. Have students find and bring in proposals to present to the
class. This may be difficult, however, because proposals are generally unpublished and
proprietary. Still, if you are just starting out as a technical writing teacher, this is a good
way for you to build your own files of examples of proposals.
3. Brainstorm proposal projects. To ensure that students understand how the term is used
in Reporting Technical Information, conduct a brainstorming session in which you toss
out topics and students work them into proposals. This will necessitate narrowing,
analyzing audience and situation, as well as conceptualizing a topic as the focus of a
proposal. Keep in mind that some of your students will have trouble distinguishing
proposals from feasibility and other sorts of reports.
4. Unscramble scrambled proposal text. Another classroom possibility is to take the text
of a good proposal, scramble the sections moderately, and then retype that text as one
huge paragraph without any formatting. Get the class to discuss how to rearrange the text
and format it. Have some fun with this—get students to bring scissors and tape to class.
Or you can wheel in a computer and projector to your classroom, and have students tell
you how to edit the scrambled text.
5. Group-brainstorm a hypothetical proposal. Another classroom possibility is to plan a
hypothetical proposal together as a class. Consider starting with a totally un-narrowed
topic (for example, solar energy). Get students to make up an RFP. Have them brainstorm
details for each of the main sections of the typical proposal. This is nice practice for the
mental gymnastics they will have to perform in planning their own proposals.
Computer Classroom (Proposals)
1. Find actual online proposal solicitations, and study them to understand the proposal
product process. The Web is a great starting place for the proposal concept. Have small
student teams brainstorm a list of good search terms, using the chapter reading as
guidance. They should then locate at least three proposal solicitations and study them for
the level of document specifications, the required methods of proposal submission, and
the deadlines (or timeline for the process). Have the teams brainstorm what missteps
could easily lead to a proposal being tossed as well as solutions for ensuring this
wouldn’t happen to a proposal they might write. If the solicitations are applicable
enough, you could even turn this initial activity into a full-blown proposal- writing
2. Respond to the provided scenario by outlining and drafting the Rationale and
Significance section of a proposal. Students new to proposal writing often don’t
understand the importance of the rationale section—they think it’s just a fluffy way to
start. Having them practice writing this section (individually or in small tea ms) can help
them catch a clue to the truly persuasive role of this proposal section. After the initial
drafting is completed, you might have students stand in front of the class and make their
case for solving the problem presented in the scenario. The audience can then think
critically about what the proposers say, ask them questions, and present
counterarguments. Happenings in your community or on your campus are good sources
of ideas for proposal scenarios. Students may also contribute to the scenario
brainstorming if you have time.
3. Compare guidelines for writing business proposals and grant proposals. As the
textbook points out, proposals are written in a variety of contexts. Not surprisingly,
although proposals in the various contexts are very similar, the strategies that one uses
when writing in the various contexts are not necessarily the same. Place your students
into teams of two or three, and ask them to search the Internet for guidelines for writing
business proposals and guidelines for writing grant proposals. Ask the students to focus
on the rhetorical strategies that the guidelines for each type of proposal suggest. How
does developing an argument for a business proposal differ from developing one for a
grant proposal? What considerations should the writer of each type of proposal keep in
Here are some ideas for things you can do in class to help students learn about progress
reports and get ready to write their own.
Traditional Classroom (Progress Reports)
1. Apply the progress report checklists. A good classroom exercise is to use the progress
report checklist at the end of the chapter to analyze the example progress reports shown
in the chapter or contained on the Companion Web Site. Students tend not to study the
examples carefully and thus miss that additional exposure to the details of the contents,
organization, and format of progress reports. Also, students tend not to use the checklists
when they are completing their own drafts and thus fail to include certain key
components of progress reports. Applying the checklists to the examples in the book may
help in both these areas.
2. Unscramble scrambled progress report text. Another classroom possibility is to take
the text of a good progress report, scramble the sections moderately, and then retype that
text as one huge paragraph without any formatting. Have the class discuss how to
rearrange the text and format it. Get students to bring scissors and tape to class, and have
a cut-and-paste party. Or you can bring a computer and projector into your classroom,
and have students tell you how to edit the scrambled text.
3. Brainstorm a progress report for the school year. This activity can be fun and should
be easy to do as a class. For this exercise, assume that in order for the students’ pare nts or
financial aid office to be willing to fund their next year of education, they demand a
yearly report on the students’ progress at college. How should the report be structured?
What should it address (classes, grades, extracurricular activities, jobs, etc.)? How is
progress to be assessed? How are problems to be addressed? What conclusions and
recommendations should be presented?
Computer Classroom (Progress Reports)
1. Find an online progress report and critique it. Plenty of actual examples exist online.
Make sure students find examples that are not tied to textbooks or academic databases. In
small teams or in pairs, have students identify the method of arrangement used and the
level of concrete detail in the wording. Encourage them to approach the progress report
with a skeptical attitude and to look for areas of improvement.
2. Take a sample paragraph from a good progress report and revise it using vague or
misleading language. Emphasize the pressure put on teams and organizations to meet
deadlines and budgets, but balance that with the importance of honesty and ethical
writing. After the misleading revisions have been made, have students trade drafts and
look for poor wording, flaws in logic, etc.
3. Complete Exercise 4 in the textbook. Ask students to complete this exercise, and then
have them trade drafts with one another via a discussion thread, e- mail, or another
method by which they may share and edit documents online. Have each student make
comments on a classmate’s draft and return it to the author. Once this is done, have the
class discuss ways that they revised the original progress report.
You can structure the proposal assignment a number of ways, depending on your sense of
students’ level of ability and your own preferences. Here are some ideas.
Traditional Assignments (Proposals)
1. Academic proposal for the technical report project. A simple way to get students to
write a proposal is to have them write one on their plans for their final report. In such a
proposal, students try to convince you, the instructor, that they can do a good job of that
proposed report. Your criteria can include whether they have:
a. a sufficiently narrowed topic
b. a clearly defined audience (that has a nonspecialist element to it)
c. a reasonably detailed outline (at least, for this stage)
d. confidence that adequate information sources exist for their project
e. adequate technical knowledge for the project (or else they are committed to
Students should write this document in memo format with headings similar to examples
shown in the proposals chapter. See Research Report Proposal, Sample Assignment #1,
in the following pages, for a full example of this assignment.
2. Professional proposal for a technical report project. Considerably more demanding is
to have students plan a report project for a real or realistic, external audience and then
write a proposal to that audience to get approval for the project. This requires some
mental gymnastics; some students have trouble getting the idea. For these students, be
prepared to act as a brainstorming machine to help them work up a proposal idea that
embraces their report project in a realistic manner. Consider having a group
brainstorming session in class. Also, consider having students write the req uest for
proposals for their projects. A realistic RFP establishes a strong context.
One of the problems with this idea is the conflict that ensues between your needs as an
instructor who wants to assess your students’ report project and the realistic co ntents of a
proposal. You need to know about the report audience, but if that audience is the same
audience of the proposal, it makes little sense to describe the audience in the proposal.
Solve this problem by asking students to attach a memo to you, the instructor, in which
they provide any information (such as audience description or report type) that does not
realistically fit in the proposal itself.
3. Nonreport-based proposal. One other option for the proposal is simply to remove the
linkage to the final report altogether. Students can find or make up a request for proposals
and then write a proposal that seeks to get approval to do the requested work.
4. Oral presentation of proposal. If you are worried that your students have too many
writing projects, you might have them do the proposal as an oral presentation. (See the
oral exercises at the end of the textbook chapter.) Doing so will force students to work on
their report projects earlier in the semester, and it will enable your students to find others
working on the same topics. Hearing what everybody else is working on tends to energize
the class and increase the enthusiasm level.
Distance Learning Assignments (Proposals)
1. Post a message to a discussion board with this question as the subject line, “How can
I convince [blank] to [blank]?” Then ans wer the question and discuss persuasion in
the body of the message. This is more of a prefatory exercise to get students to open up
and start thinking about persuasion early in the proposal planning process. They may post
very detached, formal responses, such as “How can I convince my boss to give me a
raise?” or they may get very personal, such as “How can I convince myself that my dad is
safe at work in New York City after the World Trade Center disaster?” The great thing is
that good persuasive techniques appeal to logic and common sense—things that are
applicable across a wide variety of situations. The key to this activity will be to get the
students to recognize the role persuasion is playing in their context, to think about the
techniques that might apply to their context, and then to extrapolate how these techniques
can also be used in proposal preparation. Reaching these goals will take some
encouragement and mediation from the teacher, but don’t feel like you need to respond to
each student. Try to let them be more independent, but guide as necessary. Think about if
you want this assignment to constitute a small or mid-sized portion of their grade, and
explain your participation expectations accordingly.
2. Using e-mail or message board attachments, share drafts of your proposals for peer
critique. By a pre-set deadline, have students share their proposal drafts by posting them
to the Web, sharing them with each other as e- mail attachments, or posting them to a
discussion board as either messages or attachments. After students post their drafts, have
them respond to three of their peers’ proposals by offering a list of strengths and
suggestions. You may want to specify which sections they consider on each peer review,
or you may want to leave that up to the reviewers. Putting students into smaller online
teams of six to eight early in the semester will help make this activity less chaotic. To
ensure participation, you will have to make the peer critique a part of participation in the
class. See the Workshop section of this manual for more suggestions on peer editing.
3. Combine Exercises 1 and 2 from the textbook. If your students will not actually be
writing a proposal for the course, have them analyze the RFP as required in Exercise 1
and post the information report described in Exercise 2. You may wish to have each
student read another student’s summary and post a response about the suggested
approach, content, emphasis, or evaluation criteria.
You can structure the progress report assignment a number of ways, depending on your sense
of your students’ level of ability and your own preferences.
Traditional Assignments (Progress Reports)
1. Progress report on the semester research report. The common way of getting students
to write a progress report is to have them report on the status of their semester research
report. You can build in some additional incentive for students to make real progress on
their semester reports by making evidence of such progress a part of their grade on this
2. Oral report version of the progress report. Another possibility is to use the progress
report as an opportunity for students to give their oral report (which is a requirement in
many technical writing courses). The criteria for the progress report are the same; it’s just
3. Nonreport-based progress reports. It’s hard to find contexts for progress reports that
are not based on students’ research reports. What other long projects are they invo lved in
or could they get involved in? Some students may be working on a semester-long design
project or experiment; this might work for the progress report. Some teachers have
students write on the progress they’ve made toward their degrees and address their
progress reports to their parents or to their student- loan officers.
4. Volunteer progress reports. It may be risky, but another possibility is to have students
go out in the community to interview someone involved in a project, for example, a
construction project or a lengthy study commissioned by city or county government.
Students can then write up this information as a progress report.
Distance Learning Assignments (Progress Reports)
1. Submit a semester project progress report via e-mail. This is very similar to Exercise
1 above but will require a little more creative thinking in terms of how to add headings
and lists to the progress report when the authors are not sure whether or not such design
will translate over e-mail. Require that students use the keyboard only and avoid HTML,
assuming that their audience’s e- mail client functions at the lowest level of bells and
2. Post an online team project progress report to the team’s Web area (discussion area
or HTML area). Remind students that progress reports serve as documentation. Have
each member of a team submit a short individual progress report to the team discussion
thread/board. Then as a group, they should develop an overall progress report to be
submitted to the project audience or supervisor. This documentation will also serve as a
reminder to the team members of looming deadlines and tasks to be completed.
3. Complete Exercise 6 in the textbook. Have students create a slide presentation of a
progress report that they have written for you. Have students post the presentations on a
discussion thread or in another location where their peers can view the presentation. You
may wish to ask each student to view and critique the presentation of another student.
Small Business Information, About.com: The Winning Elements of Business Proposals
Richard J. Fulscher, Oregon State University: A No-Fail Recipe: Winning Business
Minnesota Council on Foundations, Grant Seeking in Minnesota: Writing a Successful
Grant Proposal (http://www.mcf.org/mcf/grant/writing.htm)
The Foundation Center: Proposal Writing Short Course
Willamette University, Student Academic Grants and Awards: Carton Undergraduate
Research Grants: How to Write a Bad Proposal and Fail to Get a Carton Grant
Shipleylimited.com: Writing Winning Proposals: Commercial Proposal Planner
Alice Reid, M.Ed.: A Practical Guide for Writing Proposals
Alternatives.com, How To . . . Writing a Good Proposal (http://alternatives.com/capp/ch-
You may wish to reproduce the following worksheets for use in class or as homework.
Sample Proposal Assignment #1 (2 Pages)
To: Technical Writing Students
Re: Request for Proposals
These instructions get you on the road toward your major project. Think of this process as
falling within two phases: the proposal phase (begins now) and the product/project phase
(from the time you receive proposal approval through your project submission). Remember
that the proposal is your detailed plans for completing the major project. You won’t actually
begin the proposed project until you have turned in the proposal and received official
approval. Below you will find the proposal steps described.
Steps to Proposal Development
This process allows you to plan and complete a project of your own. Although the proposal
you’ll write for the assignment will have a specified organization, length, and format, you
have almost total control over the decisions you make regarding the project you’re proposing.
1. Determine the topic and scope of the project you would like to propose.
Remember any constraints or requirements discussed in class.
Check the availability of research resources before deciding.
Consider me the primary audience for your final project unless another audience
would make more sense.
2. Do some preliminary research (primary or secondary) of your topic.
Gather this information as support for the feasibility of your topic.
Document this early research in a preliminary bibliography.
3. Draft your proposal.
Follow the reading over proposals carefully (Chapter 16).
Use a calendar and the syllabus to plan a specific, realistic timeline for your proposed
Include a precise, itemized budget section: accurate to the penny.
Be very detailed throughout the proposal, and concentrate on anticipating and
answering audience questions.
Follow format, length, and organization requirements exactly.
Basic Proposal Specifications
As do many research proposal writers, you must conform to a list of specifications:
Follow the proposal content and organization listed in the reading.
Write the proposal in memo format, addressed “To:” me.
Do not exceed maximum body length constraints: four full pages.
Use design principles to make the document easy to access.
In your task breakdown, plan for a progress report to be submitted.
In addition to the sections required in the reading, include the following:
a preliminary list of research resources,
a tentative outline for your final project, and
a complete description of the format/design for your final project.
Remember that as your technical writing teacher, I will want to know as much detail about
the project you’re proposing as possible: what it will look like, what style of writing it will
use, how long it will be, what research will go into it, why it’s a worthy project, how you’re
qualified to perform the work, etc.
Final Project Require ments
Although you will have control over the focus, format, length, design, and details of the
proposed project, please plan carefully so that your project will include the following:
at least two (2) functional graphics, and
at least five (5) research resources.
Consider your project a cumulative effort illustrating the skills you have learned and are
learning in this course. I’ll consider your proposals as contracts for the remaining work to be
completed. Once you have approval, you may not make topic, format, or length changes
Also remember that the proposal is a highly persuasive document. Through it you must
convince me of the validity and feasibility of your proposed project, and you must
demonstrate that the project will be worthy of our time and of fulfilling your grade
requirement. To get you on the most efficient road to completing your proposal and final
project, I encourage you to speak with me during or after class concerning your topic,
methods of research, etc. Please don’t hesitate to consult with me at any stage of your
planning or work!
Final Project Planning Notes
Sample Proposal Assignment #2 (2 Pages)
To: Technical Writing Students
Re: Request for Proposals
To keep students up to date on the latest professional writing practices, we are interested in
updating the excellence of our teaching practices and materials. We are requesting your help
in discovering the most current trends in professional writing today.
The Information Age has significantly changed the way all organizations are run, based on
the types of communications they use. Although we, as your instructors and administrators,
have a strong background in traditional technical and professional writing, we do not have
the time or resources to explore all of the current writing that goes on in the professional
world today. Because of this, sometimes we cannot advise our instructors on how to best
meet their students’ future writing needs. As a result, we are soliciting student proposals to
help us investigate the subject.
In order to keep ourselves up to date concerning the latest writing practices in the largest
variety of fields possible, we are requesting well-planned investigations into the kind of
writing that post-university professionals do, both on a daily and a long-term project basis.
The Professional Intervie w
A great way to find out about current writing practices is to go straight to the actual working
environment. Therefore, you may look into the subject through well-planned interviews with
working professionals. The interviewee can be anyone working within your field of interest
(at any level): former coworkers, relatives, friends, someone you interact with professionally,
etc. The closer you can get to your own career hopes, the more useful this interview will be
for you (as well as for us).
Please include all of this requested interviewee information:
Whom will you interview?
How do you know him/her?
For whom does your interviewee currently work?
What is your interviewee’s current job title? P hone number and/or e-mail address?
Why have you chosen this interviewee?
Is this person experienced in your future field of expertise? How?
What kind of qualifications does he/she have?
What are your pre-planned interview questions?
Plan your interview to last at least 30 minutes (approximately 20 questions). We will want to
see sample documents along with your discussion, so make sure to request three or four
short to medium-length examples during your interview.
Make sure that your proposal is thorough, effectively written (well developed but concise and
informative). Make sure to answer all of the who-what-when-why-how questions that the
audience will have.
Note: This RFP requests only the proposal, your plans for the project! Once you receive
approval, you will then be ready to move on to conducting the interview and writing the
report. (Please see “Expectations for Recommendations Report” below.)
Proposal Require ments
Proposal Format Specifications
Please make sure your proposal corresponds to the following specifications.
Respond in informal report format, noting your name, the date, a “prepared for”
statement, and the title on the cover.
Work within the three-page (body) length limit (single-spaced text).
Use a reader- friendly design.
Use a traditional proposal organization.
Make sure to research and provide your interviewee’s qualifications in your Methods
Attach your interview questions or a preliminary list of resources in an appendix.
Attach and refer to other appendixes as necessary.
Budget and Timeline
Although we cannot afford to pay you for your time or supplies on the last project, you will
receive compensation: credit for Technical Writing. However, we are still interested in any
money you anticipate spending on the proposed final project. Please present, in your
proposal, a clearly itemized budget for any expenditures you expect to have while completing
the research, writing, or final “publication” of your proposed project.
Please make note of the following deadlines when preparing your proposal:
Proposals will be accepted up until _____.
I will announce approvals no later than _____.
Progress reports are due______.
The mandatory workshop for the report project is_____ _.
If your project is approved, then final reports will be due______.
If you have any questions, please contact me.
Sample Proposal Assignment #3 (1 Page)
All University Student Senate
April 3, 2002
To: All- U Interested Students
From: Nichole Lackey, Chair, Teaching Evaluation Subcommittee
Re: Request for Proposals
The recent trend in fee increases and the state legislature’s concern for the quality of state-
funded public education have brought about the question of whether or not All-U students are
receiving the high level of quality teaching for which they pay. As students, our primary
means of providing feedback to the faculty concerning its instruction quality is student
evaluation forms. Therefore, the Teaching Evaluation Subcommittee of the All-U Faculty
Senate is soliciting proposals to study this current system of teacher evaluations and to
develop additional or alternative methods of student review.
As of now, we have not formed an opinion of whether or not the current system of
evaluations is adequately reflecting student perspectives and concerns. If it is judged
successful, then we would like to know how the student population is judging that success
and how it perceives it as having an impact on the quality of instruction it receives. If the
system is judged to be unsuccessful from the student perspective, then we would like to
review the proposed alternatives.
In order to complete the proposed project, we welcome you to study not only student
perspectives but also faculty opinions and methods of review used at similar institutions
within the United States. These additional perspectives may be of help as you plan and
recommend an additional or alternative method of review. However, when planning your
proposal, investigation, and device development, please keep in mind All-U’s specific
characteristics (enrollment size, culture, resources, etc.).
If you are interested in competing for approval to complete this investigation, report, and
review method development, please submit a proposal outlining your plans for the project. In
order to streamline the selection process, we ask that your proposal conform to the following
use bound, report format including a transmittal memo
fall within the body length limitations: three to four full pages
include all standard proposal information, well designed and organized
attach support information in appendixes as necessary
After receiving and reviewing the proposal submissions, we will contact the finalists to make
brief presentations and answer committee questions. We will then choose the winner(s),
based mainly upon the written proposals, but taking into account presentation information as
supplemental. Winner(s) will receive any funding necessary to complete the project up to
$500 and an additional award of $300 per group.
Note to teachers: This assignment may, within reasonable limits, actually be
completed. Or you may take students through the proposal and into the critiquing
process, allowing groups to evaluate each other’s proposals on the basis of feasibility,
budget accuracy, research merit, and general credibility and persuasiveness.
Sample Progress Report Assignment (1 Page )
To: Technical Writing Students
Subject: Progress Report for Major Project
You are required to prepare a brief progress report concerning your formal project. Because
progress reports are typically solicited, interoffice documents, I want you to address them to
me. If you would like to fit this within the framework of your specific scenario, you may
address it “To:” the appropriate project supervisor.
Please remember that this progress report is concerned with the preparation of your final
project. The events involved should include research, interviews, graphics, writing, page
design, evaluating, editing, etc. The following list should help guide you through this
Use memo format.
Observe maximum length: two pages, single spaced (heading is double spaced).
Use document design techniques.
Address it “To:” me, “From:” your name(s), and actual date.
Choose an appropriate, detailed subject line.
Use a summary opening, not an introduction.
Follow the reading in RTI Chapter 16 for more suggestions.
Include realistic progress already made.
Remind me of the day-by-day progress you expect to make in the remaining time.
Reiterate the appointed deadline.
Include an evaluation of the work process thus far.
Include a description/discussion of problems encountered.
Address costs as needed.
Take a few minutes to evaluate style and to proofread.
These will be graded according to the above guidelines, in reference to RTI Chapter
16, and in consideration of the material covered in class this semester. Please be
honest concerning the problems you have encountered as I may be able to offer
sympathy and/or suggestions.
Worksheet: Brainstorming Proposals
Problem to be addressed by the proposal?
Issue(s) pushing the audience to find a solution?
Benefits of the solution?
Feasibility of the solution?
Real desire of the soliciting organization?
Approaches to the problem viewed favorably?
Approaches to the problem viewed unfavorably?
Appeal of the current solution?
Weaknesses in our plan?
Realistic means of accomplishing solution?
Method of accomplishing this project?
Scope in this project (included, not included)?
Specific tasks for this project?
Final due date? Time?
Solutions we will have ready for those problems?
Facilities needed for this project?
Costs for completing this project?
The figures on the following pages may be reproduced as overhead transparencies or simply
shown on a computer. The following set of discussion questions associated with each of the
figures may be used to elicit student reflections on the concepts.
Discussion Questions for Figure 16-1
Why is understanding the proposal cycle important?
Would you do things differently in the proposal process and in writing the proposal itself
if it didn’t have to go through a formal cycle like this one?
Discussion Questions for Figure 16-2
Which sections of the proposal will be most crucial to your context?
How will you need to tailor your proposal for your context?
What support information might go in your appendixes?
Discussion Questions for Figures 16-3 through 16-5
How might you go about deciding how to structure your progress report?
Do you need to modify one of these structures to best fit your needs? How? Why?
Soliciting Company Submitting Company
RFQ →→→→→Decides to Submit Proposal
First Draft → Final Draft
Corrections, Printing, Binding
Receives Proposals ←←← Ships Proposal
Evaluates Finalists’ Oral Presentations
Selects and Announces Acceptance of Bid
Figure 16-1: Proposal Cycle
Standard Proposal Sections
2. Project description (technical proposal)
Rationale and significance
Plan of work
3. Personnel (management proposal)
4. Cost (cost proposal)
Figure 16-2: Standard Proposal Sections
Progress Report Structured by Work
Work completed or Task 1
Task 1 Work completed
Task 2, etc. Work remaining
Work remaining or Task 2
Task 3 Work completed
Task 4 Work remaining
Overall appraisal of progress to date
Conclusion and recommendations
Figure 16-3: Progress Report Structured by Work Performed
Progress Report Structured by
Summary of work completed
Period 1 (beginning and ending dates)
Period 2 (beginning and ending dates)
Period 3 (or remaining periods)
Description of work to be done
Evaluation of work in this period
Conclusions and recommendations
Figure 16-4: Progress Report Structured by Chronological Order
Progress Report Structured by Main
Work completed or Goal 1
Goal 1 Work completed
Goal 2 Work remaining
Goal 3, etc. Cost
Work remaining or Goal 2
Goal 1 Work completed
Goal 2 Work remaining
Goal 3, etc. Cost
Overall appraisal of progress to date
Conclusion and recommendations
Figure 16-5: Progress Report Structured by Main Project Goals