Justifying An Evaluation

Essay #2: Justifying an Evaluation The Writing Assignment  Write an essay evaluating a specific subject. (The subject I chose is an iPhone) Examine your subject closely, and make a judgment about it.

Give reasons for your judgment that are based on widely recognized criteria or standards for evaluating a subject like yours. Support your reasons with examples and other details primarily from your subject. Write a 900—1300 word evaluation of a particular film, television show, musical album, car, book, restaurant, video game, or specific product of your choice.  State your judgment clearly and back it up with a convincing argument based on standards of value that are appropriate for judging this kind of subject. 

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When evaluating your subject, argue for whether or not you would recommend your subject. Generally, you will need to fit your subject into a particular class that has particular criteria or standards by which members of that class are measured.  For example, you might argue whether or not The Avengers (your subject) is a good film (the class or group the subject fits into). 

You would determine what standards/criteria are appropriate for a good film (i.e., good acting, intriguing plot, compelling characters, etc.) and show how well the particular film meets your criteria.  Use the following guidelines to help develop your essay:       At the start of your essay, present your subject clearly:  state your subject explicitly (name the TV show, film or whatever), and also give the reader enough information about your subject to understand your judgment without giving up too much information.  Use descriptive language to describe you subject to the reader who might not be familiar with it.

However, be concise—you do not want the description of your subject to extend beyond the introduction. Also, make a clear, BALANCED judgment.  Assert whether you would recommend your subject or not.  Even though you want to make a judgment, also acknowledge both the good and bad points about the subject–try to be impartial.  For example, if you’re evaluating a film you might argue that the characters are very intriguing but the plot is very thin and unbelievable. 

Of course, you must make sure that your good points outweigh your bad points if you’re ultimately judging the film as good and vice versa. Weighting of your criteria (explaining which criteria are most and least important) also helps clarify your judgment.         However, you must go beyond simply stating that you would recommend your subject or not recommend your subject. You must argue for your judgment: present appropriate reasons and argue with evidence and explanation to show whether or not you would recommend your subject. 

If your criteria or standards for evaluation aren’t clear, you might also need to explain them.  For example, if you are arguing that Olive Garden is a good restaurant because it has good food, excellent service, and a pleasant atmosphere, then you obviously don’t need to devote much time to justifying your standards.  However, if one of your main criteria is that it has a place for children to play, you would definitely need to explain why this is an important criterion for a good restaurant.    

     OPITIONAL: As part of your argument, you MIGHT also need to anticipate objections or alternative judgments.  For example, if you want to argue that Apollo 13 is a good family film, you might discuss how the movie appears to be good for the entire family: the language is clean, the movie promotes responsible behavior, and the movie has a fairly simple story to follow. 

These elements suggest that the movie is a good family-film.  However, someone might argue that Apollo 13 is not appropriate for small children because some of the situations are “too intense, frightening, or mature” for many youngsters.  You need to address this concern and show that despite these frightening scenes, the film is still appropriate for kids.  Anticipating readers’ concerns definitely enhances your credibility.       

  OPTIONAL: Another feature that can help your evaluation essays is a pointed comparison.  Compare your subject to other subjects in the same category.  For example, if you’re evaluating a Black Eyed Peas album, compare it to other albums that are in the same class (i.e., hip-hop, rap, dance, etc.).  Make sure your comparisons are pointed in that you focus on a particular criterion or standard and show how the Black Eyed Peas album has more variety in the tracks or has more intellectually stimulating lyrics.        

In your conclusion, sum up your argument and restate your final judgment. 

*There is a research component for this essay. Please locate at least two reviews of your subject (these can be from websites like Yelp.com, Amazon.com, etc., or any text that contains reviews of your subject). You will choose a sentence or two from these reviews to either help support your own subject, or to argue against in a refutation if you choose to use that option. Because you will be incorporating at least two reviews, you will need a works cited page for this essay.

**Also, although sophisticated formal academic writing does not usually allow for the use of the first person (“I”) or the second person (“you”), I will allow you to use both for this essay because it is a bit different than the other essays we write in this course. For an evaluation essay, you are speaking personally to the reader. Essay Criteria: 900-1300 words typed in Times New Roman. MLA formatted. You must research at last two reviews of your subject. These can be from Amazon, magazines (online and print), or blogs. You must be able to cite these reviews. Use these reviews to either support your judgment or to argue against the opposition.

Your essay should contain a works cited page with at least two reviews as well as the work you are evaluating. We will use writing process for this course, so make sure to see the assignments for prewriting, rough draft and peer review for this essay listed further along in this module. A suggested scratch outline for this essay is as follows:

Paragraph 1: Introduction ending in your judgment (thesis)

Paragraph 2: Introduce the first criterion and analyze how your subject measures

Paragraph 3: Introduce the second criterion and analyze how your subject measures

Paragraph 4: Introduce the third criterion and analyze how your subject measures

Paragraph 5 (Optional): Oppositional view(s) and refutation

Paragraph 6 (Optional): Pointed comparison/contrast with a similar subject to further prove your thesis

Paragraph 7: Conclusion: confirm your judgment

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