Persuasion course inspires student to help homeless

30th September 2014

Visiting professor, Tammy Voigt teaches a persuasion course in the Department of Communication Studies, and this year, she began her class with an unusual request: for each student to donate $1, making them personally invested in the course. With the $25 that was collected, Voigt asked each student to write a persuasive speech convincing their classmates to give them the money by stating what they would do with the winnings. Class members would then review all the options and cast their vote.

The speeches are recorded so, at the end of the semester when students are better versed in persuasive theory, they will review their own speeches and note areas that were effective or require improvement.

One student, Jonathan Ham, persuaded his fellow students to give him the money and, with it, he would purchase a sandwich to pair with a bottle of water to distribute to the homeless. He promised to video his experience and share it with the class.

Jonathan won the money and his video (below), in which he graciously acknowledged the contributions of his classmates, was shared with the class on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

At the end of the semester, Voigt plans to refund this money. As students complete their final exam on the last day of class, she will hand them a crisp, one-dollar bill on their way out the door.

This story, which shows how students can, and are, applying their education in a hands-on way to make a difference in the community, caught the attention of the Huffington Post. Read the article by clicking here. 

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