Evaluation Criteria for Formal Essays | Department of …
There are, of course, variations on the genre of the academicessay--some rather large difference exist, for example, betweenthe social sciences and the humanites. This discussion isbased on the humanties approach. Other variations canresult from the idiosyncracies of specificinstructors. To the degree that what is written here soundsheavy handed and inflexible, I caution instead that such tone istrying to reflect the manner in which your own analysis andwriting will need to sound precise and rigorousthestandards by which the academic essay is evaluated.
How to Write a Critical Evaluation Essay
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Making an Argument
As stated earlier, the academic essay is an exercise in reasonedpersuasion. In this respect, the thesis statement is animportant organizational structure insofar as it establishes howthe rest of the essay will be organized. Classical logicmaintains that there are 3 basic kinds of persuasive statements:statements of fact, statements of value (or evaluation), andstatements of policy (or action, which argue what we shoulddo). Unless otherwise specified, the first of these, thestatement of fact, is the form that the thesis statement for anacademic essay should takethe obvious exception being whenyou write evaluative criticism (which you will NEVER do in mycourse).
Definition and Examples of Evaluation Essays
Establishing the criteria by which the thesis statement will beproven leads to the next logical step: demonstrating how theobject under investigation meets those criteria. Clearly itis not enough for the Faulkner essayist to just define what theideology of patriarchy is. Their thesis is that Faulkner'swork criticizes that ideology. As a result, they will haveto point to specific things within the text and argue that theyrelate to those criteria IN A SPECIFIC WAYin this casethrough a process of criticism. This process of relatingthe object of investigation back to the established criteria isanother fundamental component of the body of the essay. Without it, the proof is not complete. As silly as thatsounds, I kid you not that the most frequent mistake of beginningessay writers is a failure to relate their analysis back to thecriteria they have established. Thus it is that anotherimportant norm for the academic essay is:
The Evaluation Essay: A Quick Introduction & Topic Suggestions
Thus it is that having argued that Star Wars is a Western, thebody of the paper is going to have to first establish theelements that comprise the Westernit will have to establishthe criteria by which the thesis can be proven. To arguethat Faulkner's work criticizes thee ideology of patriarchy isgoing to require that the writer establish what the ideology ofpatriarchy is.
Be prepared the next time your teacher assigns an evaluation essay
The Star Wars example brings up another fundamental logicaltask to this process. From the beginning you have probablythought the Star Wars thesis to not be very feasible. Thefilm is not set in the West, and it occurs in the future. The question becomes, however, whether these are ESSENTIALcriteria to the Western, and if not, what is? In terms ofproving that thesis statement, the writer is going to have toclearly establish what the elements of the Western Genre are, andthen relate aspects of the film back to ALL of thosecriteria. Herein lies the essential importance of"completeness" to that process. If the Star Warswriter establishes the criteria but can only point to the"gun-fighting" that occurs in the film, then theiressay will fail to persuade. Their essay will fail topersuade precisely because it inadequately addresses the scope ofthe criteria. Thus it is that another important norm forthis process is:
Criteria for Evaluating Written Work
In the discussion of types of argument, I made the point that thewriter will have to establish criteria that can be used to provetheir argument. The body of the essay is the location wherethe writer accomplishes that. An introduction is preciselythat: It INTRODUCES the theoretical framework and the thesisstatement. It does not DESCRIBE or DISCUSS these twothings. This is a fairly common mistake that beginningessay writers make. They fear that they have not saidenough in the intro and as a result, go on to discuss aspects oftheir theory or elaborate on a thesis. The problem withdoing so is that it screws up your organization. What comes nextis no longer clear to the reader.