Composing the Evaluative Essay
Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the evaluative criteria by exhibiting the following:
- Students will evaluate and assess the positions taken in a collection of texts about a particular researched subject and take a stance on that issue through a thesis-driven essay for a specialized/academic audience.
- Students will read, summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate texts in a variety of styles, genres, and mediums, demonstrating the ability to do so in forms that may include – but are not limited to – class discussions, quizzes, annotations, and writing about writing.
- Students will revise and edit multiple drafts to produce writing that is well organized, mechanically and grammatically sound, and mostly error free.
- Students will effectively identify and differentiate the components of a text, including audience, tone, angle, theme, etc.
- Students will construct an impactful and concise thesis statement to build upon in an evaluative essay.
- Students will analyze and assess effective evaluative strategies in others’ work in a peer review setting.
- Finally, students will craft a nuanced, informed, and skillful evaluative essay that will be developed over multiple drafts.
Assignment borrowed and adapted from this resource.
Essay Four: Evaluation Essay
Description: If you decide to read movie reviews, you are reading a form of an evaluative argument. You might read evaluations to decide which car is a better value for your money, which instructor to take for your next composition class, or if that coffee maker will hold out longer than your last one did. An evaluation makes an argument about an item by measuring the item against a set of criteria. The argument takes the form of a judgment. (Yes, the new Jurassic World is worth seeing at midnight. If you want a traditional romance, don’t watch Trainwreck.)
Task: For this assignment, you will write an evaluation about some type of media product (a book, movie, album, video game, etc). You will develop a set of criteria on which you will base your judgment, and using those criteria, explain your judgment to your audience. You should also find two reviews about the same topic to demonstrate your knowledge of the topic; however, you should use these sparingly.
Your evaluation will be similar to the book or movie reviews you might read online, but you will need to tailor for an academic audience. In order to do this, you should keep your rhetorical situation in mind. Something like, “The graphics are wicked,” might be acceptable for a quick Facebook review of the newest Call of Duty, but for this essay, you will need to use more specific language than “wicked.” You will also need to provide a balanced assessment of your text, so you will need to discuss both the positive and negative aspects, or strengths and weaknesses of your text. Because of this, your evaluation will probably be stronger if you do not write about something you love; you may not see the flaws.
Your essay should incorporate no fewer than three and no more than five quotations that are properly introduced, cited, integrated, and explained in terms of your argument. You must also include a proper MLA Works Cited page for the text you analyze.
This essay will constitute 20% of your grade, or 200 out of 1000 points.
MLA format, 12 pt font, Times New Roman
5-7 pages in length
1 page proposal
Overview of Classes:
Day One: The instructor will introduce the students to the concept of an evaluative essay by showing them examples of movie reviews. Because one of the options the students can choose to take in their essay is an evaluation of a movie, this helps to create a clear picture in their minds of what exactly is being asked of them.
Day Two: The students will explore the genre of review and key terms, using various examples. Texts:
- Resources: Everyone’s an Author chapter 15: “Two Thumbs Up: Writing a Review,” Siskel and Ebert “Women in Danger Part 1” screening in class.
Day Three: Students will begin to develop their evaluative criteria, topic proposals due.
- Resources: Everyone’s an Author chapter 18: “Strategies for Supporting an Argument”
Day Four: Students will discuss how to create a strong and persuasive argument.
- Resources: Everyone’s an Author chapter 11: “Arguing a Position,” and George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”
Day Five: Further discussion of persuasive argument using commercials
- Resources: Possible commercial options: Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, Dr. Pepper: “Mountain Man”, Geico “Flextacular”, Dove For Men “Manly Ad”, Jose Cuerva “Most Interesting Man in the World”, Miller Light “Man Up” Campaign
Day Six: In class work day.
Day Seven: Discussion of themes and further development of criteria. Rough Draft due in class.
- Resources: “The Rapper of Refugees: What’s MIA’s Borders Video Really About?” from The Atlantic, MIA’s music video “Borders” screening in class
Day Eight: Conferences
Day Nine: Peer-Review Workshop in class.
Day Ten: Discussion of revision tactics.
- Resources: Everyone’s an Author chapter 32, “Checking for Common Mistakes”
Day Eleven: In class work day.
Day Twelve: Informal presentations, Final Draft Due In-Class.