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Humanities Libertexts

1.6: Evaluation

  • Page ID
    7129
  • Overview

    Sometimes as writers, we wonder whether what we have to say is “any good.” We wonder, too, whether what we have to say is important. “Evaluate” means “to assign a value to something.” In this assignment you will be telling the reader of your paper how important your claim is. The purpose for this assignment is twofold:

    1. To make sure that, in your own mind, this is really an issue, and;
    2. That your claim is worthy of the reader's investment of time and effort.

    checklist

    1. Draft Checklist

    ___Verify that your topic is an issue or proposal

    ___State who your issue or proposal is for

    ___Indicate how you know this is an issue and for whom

    ___Origin of issue for you

    ___Indicate how you first heard of issue

    ___Cause for the issue

    ___Indicate how you know this is a cause

    ___Effects if idea/proposal is accepted

    ___The value/importance of the idea/proposal

    ___Idea/proposal compared to alternatives

    Prompts

    Write an Evaluation of your claim statement by answering the questions below. 

    checklist

    2. Prompts from Draft Checklist

    1. Does this issue/claim exist? (Is it really an issue?); Who will this claim most affect?
    2. How do I know this is true?
    3. Where does this issue seem to come from? (How did it begin, as far as I know?)
    4. How do I know this is true?
    5. What is the cause of this issue?
    6. How do I know this is true?
    7. What will change (How will the world be different) if my idea is accepted?
    8. Why is mine a good idea to deal with?
    9. Why should it be sought or accepted?
    10. Why is it better than (some alternative)?

    Template

    3. Template from Prompts

    Evaluation

    The issue of [state the subject of your issue/proposal from your claim/proposal statement at the end of your Introduction paragraph] exists for [whom specifically?]. This is true because [you have heard/seen the issue, where?]. This issue may start with [whom, or what event(s)?]. This is true because [you have heard/seen an origin or beginning of the issue, where?]. The cause for this problem may be [what source?]. This is true because [you have heard/seen a source or cause for the issue, where?]. If [restate proposal/solution] then [what will happen? what are some good effects or outcomes of your proposal?]. [Restate your proposal] is a good idea because [why?]. [Restate your proposal] should be emphasized because [why?]. [My idea] is better than [what?] because [why?].

    Sample Draft

    4. Draft from Template

    Evaluation

    The issue of putting more emphasis on elements of composition and arrangement of the elements of composition exists for most teachers who teach essay writing and for any student who writes essays. This is true because most English teachers (or students) would answer, "No" if asked whether they felt like the essays they read (or wrote) were "successful."

    This issue may start with administrators or teachers who need an objective way to test a student's writing ability. It is probably too subjective and uncontrolled to simply rely on English teachers to evaluate that ability. The thinking goes something like this: there are “standards" for education that should be equally applied and evaluated. This is easy for grammar rules because they tend to be either right or wrong. However, for an essay, which most people consider an art form, evaluation would have to depend on whether it conforms to its own rules. This is true because any standard grammar/composition textbook will show the standardization of rules for the student (or "academic," or "five-paragraph") essay.

    The cause for this problem may be in what these "standards" assume to be true about writing an essay. It seems logical that an essay should follow conventional grammar rules. However, what makes an essay artful is a different kind of element, namely; elements like narrative, description, analogy, analysis, history, definition, comparison, cause and effect, and the like. This is true because even a so-called "professional academic essay" that attempts to demonstrate a proper academic form employs many, if not all, of the above named elements. It just does not emphasize them.

    If students focus on mastering these kinds of elements then they will learn how to write more effectively. As elements they may still be evaluated, because people know what makes up these elements in the same way that they know what makes up sentences. People know when they are being told a story, as opposed to an analysis, as opposed to a description. And this attention to elements will actually facilitate learning grammar, in much the same way that a good-tasting toothpaste facilitates brushing: the more people like it the more good it does them.

    Mastering elements of writing is a good idea because it is important for students and teachers to understand what actually makes up good writing. Improving composing skills should be emphasized because they not only improve the eventual essay, they increase a student's interest in conventions like spelling and grammar. It also helps students master a discourse larger than a paragraph, and helps him understand writing in terms of elements of a whole and how they're arranged. Thinking of essays as works of art composed of elements and arranged by principles of composition is better than what we currently teach in secondary schools because it allows students to master more than sentences and paragraphs, and it allows them to see that writing, and literature, and other arts may be seen as elemental as well as structural.

    Tutorial

    How to answer the prompts

    Prompt 1

    Does this issue/claim exist? (Is it really an issue?); Who will this claim most affect?

    Here is a claim statement:

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    Teachers should teach essays by putting more emphasis on elements of composition and how to arrange those elements in an essay.

    Look at your claim and the issue it represents. Before you can identify whom this claim affects, you should make sure this is indeed an issue. "Does this issue exist?" means does it exist as a serious issue. Think about it before you answer "Yes." If it exists, whom does it exist for? Is it an issue for a narrow group of people, or is it an obscure or out-of-date issue, or is it indeed an issue? Claiming "The sky is blue" is a relatively safe claim, and so is not a serious issue with many, if any, people. If this is the case with your claim, go back to the Introduction and revise your claim. If you are convinced that this is a serious issue, then answer the question "Does this issue exist? For Whom?” in one or more statements.

    Here is an example:

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\):

    The issue of putting more emphasis on elements of composition and arrangement of the elements of composition exists for most teachers who teach essay writing and for any student who writes essays.

    Prompt 2

    How do I know this is true?

    Here is an example “How I might prove it” statement:

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\):

    This is true because most English teachers (or students) would answer, "No" if asked whether they felt like the essays they read (or wrote) were "successful."

    Here are the first 2 answers put together in a draft:

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    The issue of putting more emphasis on elements of composition and arrangement of the elements of composition exists for most teachers who teach essay writing and for any student who writes essays. This is true because most English teachers (or students) would answer, "No" if asked whether they felt like the essays they read (or wrote) were "successful.

    Most Common Question: “How do I know that this issue exists for people without looking up facts and statistics?”

    Remember that this is "conjecture" or speculation about your issue, not evidence. You might ask, "How do I know this is true?" Here, you are not bound to later prove it by actually doing what you say you could do to prove that the issue exists. So use your imagination, but make sure that it is possible to actually carry it out.

    Prompts 3, 4

    Where does this issue seem to come from? (How did it begin, as far as I know?) How do I know this is true?

    Think about how the issue may have started. Remember, you are speculating. You may have more than one idea about its origins. Explore a few of them. Then answer how you might go about proving your speculations.

    Speculate about where the issue may start. If you are not sure about your impressions regarding an issue’s origins, ask classmates or instructors where they think the issue may come from.

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    This issue may start with administrators or teachers who need an objective way to test a student's writing ability. It is probably too subjective and uncontrolled to simply rely on English teachers to evaluate that ability. The thinking goes something like this: there are “standards" for education that should be equally applied and evaluated. This is easy for grammar rules because they tend to be either right or wrong. However, for an essay, which most people consider an art form, evaluation would have to depend on whether it conforms to its own rules.

    Tell me now how you know this is true. Remember, if you can’t be more specific than “I could do research,” then you may need to rethink the issue. You should be able to give me some idea about where we could find proof.

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    This is true because any standard grammar/composition textbook will show the standardization of rules for the student (or "academic," or "five-paragraph") essay.

    Combine the statements above:

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    This issue may start with administrators or teachers who need an objective way to test a student's writing ability. It is probably too subjective and uncontrolled to simply rely on English teachers to evaluate that ability. The thinking goes something like this: there are “standards" for education that should be equally applied and evaluated. This is easy for grammar rules because they tend to be either right or wrong. However, for an essay, which most people consider an art form, evaluation would have to depend on whether it conforms to its own rules. This is true because any standard grammar/composition textbook will show the standardization of rules for the student (or "academic," or "five-paragraph") essay

    Prompts 5, 6

    What is the cause for this issue? How do I know this is true?

    What caused it to be an issue in the first place? Your answer may sound similar to the previous one. Try to pinpoint an incident or an idea that brought your issue into existence. Remember to explain how you might prove it.

    Example \(\PageIndex{8}\): answers

    The cause for this problem may be in what these "standards" assume to be true about writing an essay. It seems logical that an essay should follow conventional grammar rules. However, what makes an essay artful is a different kind of element, namely; elements like narrative, description, analogy, analysis, history, definition, comparison, cause and effect, and the like. This is true because even a so-called "professional academic essay" that attempts to demonstrate a proper academic form employs many, if not all, of the above named elements. It just does not emphasize them.

    Most Common Question: “What is the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’?”

    The grammatical difference is this: “affect” is always a verb (except in some specialized vocabularies) and “effect” is always a noun (except in one case that is not used as much now as it used to be).

    Usually, “affect” is a verb: Everything I say affects others in some way.

    When we use the word “effect,” it is usually a noun: Everything I say has some sort of effect on others.

    I remember the difference this way: If I can put “the” or “an” in front of it and it means the same thing in the sentence, it is “effect.”

    Prompt 7

    What will change (How will the world be different) if my claim is accepted?

    Imagine the results of implementing your plan or claim. Think about how the world, as it pertains to your claim, will become different.

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    Allowing students to focus on mastering these kinds of elements allows them to learn how to write more effectively. As elements they may still be evaluated, because people know what makes up these elements in the same way that they know what makes up sentences. People know when they are being told a story, as opposed to an analysis, as opposed to a description. And this attention to elements will actually facilitate learning grammar, in much the same way that a good-tasting toothpaste facilitates brushing: the more people like it the more good it does them.

    Prompts 8, 9, and 10

    Why is mine a good claim to deal with?

    Why should it be sought or accepted?

    Why is it better than (some alternative)?

    These three questions have to do with the quality of your claim. In other words, how good a claim is it? In a sense, you are evaluating (assigning or placing a value on) your claim. This is where you get to say why this claim is important. It is in this assignment because, by answering these questions honestly, you:

    1. know that you may further invest your time and energy into pursuing this claim;
    2. may go back and revise any of the above sections as it becomes necessary during your evaluation, and;
    3. evaluating a claim shows the reader that accepting your claim can improve him in some way, or that he may otherwise benefit from it.

    Write at least one sentence for each question. Let the answers to each question spawn more explanation. It might be helpful to begin each answer with a part of the question: “Why is mine a good claim to deal with?” “Mine is a good claim to deal with because...” Later, you may go back and eliminate the beginnings of your answers.

    After each of the following questions is an example answer. The brackets indicate what I wrote originally but later took out: Again, here is my claim (the last sentence in my Introduction): “Teachers should teach essays by putting more emphasis on elements of composition and how to arrange those elements in an essay”:

    [This is a good claim to deal with because] It is important for students and teachers to understand what actually makes up good writing. [This claim should be accepted because] Improving composing skills not only improves the eventual essay, it increases a student's interest in conventions like spelling and grammar. It also helps students master a discourse larger than a paragraph, and helps him understand writing in terms of elements of a whole and how they're arranged. Thinking of essays as works of art composed of elements and arranged by principles of composition is better than what we currently teach in secondary schools because it allows students to master more than sentences and paragraphs, and it allows them to see that writing, and literature, and other arts may be seen as elemental as well as structural.

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