The purpose of an evaluation essay is to make a claim about the overall quality (or lack thereof) of something. The key to making this happen, is establishing clear and fair criteria, judgments, and evidence.
Criteria are the terms you establish to suggest what the ideal outcome should be. Having clear criteria is what keeps an evaluation from feeling less like an opinion.
The primary criterion to consider is for this assignment is whether or not you believe the essay does a good job of persuading the reader to think differently about a given subject, or to believe as the author(s) believe.
It will be essential to have a clear statement of your opinion. In other words, you will need a clear thesis.
Judgment is the measures by which you determine the effectiveness/usefulness of the articles. This is where you will consider where the premises and if/how they contribute to the conclusion of the argument.
Some of the judgements you might consider will include: (please note that you do not have to use all of these)
Think about how the author establishes credibility. What kind of rhetorical claims (pathos, ethos, and/or logos) does the author uses? Does the author rely too much on any one type of rhetorical claim? For example, consider if the author relies more on pathos, thus lacking sufficient factual claims. What effect might that have to the credibility of the argument? Conversely, consider whether the author has too much logos, and thus renders the article dense and/or dull. Etc.
Also, consider subjective and objective elements:
What biases might the author have about the subject, pro or con? How do these pieces of prior opinion and/or knowledge affect the authors writing? For example, does the author expect his/her audience to share certain opinions, and thus not explain things well enough?
Are subjective claims made by the author, based on his/her experience, supported by the authors ethos? In other words, you might consider whether or not the author knows what he/she is talking about when making such claims.
Keep an eye out for any potential fallacies the author may have used. Think about how these fallacies may undercut the effectiveness of the argument being made. How might specific points be weakened by the use of these fallacies?
Evidence is the details offered to support the judgments. It is necessary to point out specific places where the article is either successful or not successful. Use sufficient quotes and references to the article to illustrate your points.
Choose one of the essays read in this class and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. Dont be afraid to suggest that it contains both. However, make sure that in the end you say which side is stronger. In other words, while you might say that the essay has weaknesses, in the end it is strong. Or vice versa. In all instances, please explain how/why the points that you discuss are good or bad, strong or weak, sound or unsound.
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