NAPLAN Tip 1 for Persuasion: Know Your Genre

October 6, 2010

The official NAPLAN website advises that the 2011 Writing Task genre will be persuasion and the sample task ( students to respond to the topic:

Books or TV.

Reading books is better than watching TV.

What do you think about this idea? Write to convince a reader of your opinions.

There are two points to make. Firstly, persuasion is not actually a genre – it’s a purpose. In fact, narratives (short stories, novels etc) can be persuasive which is why Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World as a novel and George Orwell wrote 1984. They believed that their arguments would reach a wider audience if presented as stories. What the NAPLAN sample task seems to be asking for is a hortatory exposition – in other words an argument with the following basic structure: Thesis and preview of arguments^Arguments elaborated and exemplified^Reinforcement of thesis.

The second point relates to a confusion in NAPLAN’s own instructions: they invite students to think about if they agree or disagree or see both sides of the argument. The last part of this invitation suggests that the discussion genre (Issue^Arguments for^Arguments against^Position)  might also be acceptable. While this might seem reasonable, research demonstrates that students who do best in demand writing tasks write with authority, take a definite position. The discussion genre, on the other, encourages students to take a more neutral position – at least until the conclusion. This has the potential to result in a mid-range grade.

Consequently, teachers would be advised to encourage students to write expositions.

Note: ^ in the summary of genre stages means “followed by”.

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One Response to “NAPLAN Tip 1 for Persuasion: Know Your Genre”

  1. Aida on December 15th, 2010 2:28 am


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