The Evaluation Essay
The purpose of an evaluation essay is to demonstrate the overall quality (or lack thereof) of a particular product, business, place, service or program. While any evaluation involves injecting some form of opinion, if an evaluation is done properly it should not come across as opinionated. Instead, the evaluation should seem reasoned and unbiased.
The key to making this happen, and therefore the key to a good investigative essay, is establishing clear and fair criteria, judgments and evidence.
Criteria (the plural of criterion) means establishing what the ideal for the product, place or service should be. It means demonstrating what one should expect as the ideal outcome, Having clear criteria keeps an evaluation from seeming like an opinion. For example, if you are evaluating a restaurant, you want to establish the criteria (quality of food, service, price, cleanliness, etc.) that any good restaurant will adhere to; this criteria can then be applied to the specific restaurant you are evaluating.
The judgment is the establishment of whether or not the criterion is met. In other words, the judgment is what actually is. Using the example from above, if the first criterion for evaluating a restaurant is the quality of the food, the judgment states whether or not the particular restaurant offers food that meets or exceeds this stated quality.
The evidence is the details offered to support the judgment. If your judgment is that a particular restaurant does not consistently offer quality food, you need to support this with a variety of evidence to show how the judgment was reached.
Generally, each body paragraph of an evaluation essay is going to focus on one specific criterion, which should be fully explained, followed by the judgment and a variety of evidence offered as support. Because of this, it is important that any evaluation contains several different criteria, judgments and evidence.
An overall thesis should also be offered. For an evaluation essay, this thesis is the overall evaluation of whatever is being evaluated. Once again, if the criteria, judgments and evidence are clear, the overall thesis should be, as well. For example, if the restaurant meets most of the criteria laid out in the essay, the overall evaluation should be mostly positive, whereas if the most of the criteria is not met, the evaluation will be mostly negative.
When selecting a topic for an evaluation essay, it is important to focus on a specific business, service, product or policy. In other words, evaluate a specific class (English 121 at Aims) rather than evaluating a range of similar classes (all Aims' writing classes). Writing about a topic that you know about is also helpful. That makes it easier to establish the appropriate criteria, judgments and evidence.
Writing an evaluation essay is a great way to size up a particular object or idea. This type of critical writing sets precise criteria for evaluation, providing fair and solid supporting evidence so that readers can form their opinions about a subject.
Steps for Writing an Evaluation Essay
- Choose a topic you would like to write about. Since you will need to make a value judgment based on a set of criterion, you should know your subject well.
- Formulate your thesis statement. The thesis statement of an evaluation essay is its overall purpose and should be stated clearly, giving you the direction that will allow you to distinguish between criteria and select appropriate examples. It should state value, or the lack of it, in regard to what you are writing about.
- Think of the criteria you are going to use to make your judgment. It is difficult or even impossible to evaluate your subject immediately—choose several points of interest to make this process easier.
- Find supporting evidence to prove your point of view. Since you are making a judgment about an object and presume that your readers will take your viewpoint into consideration,
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