Your Evaluation Essay will evaluate a subject of your choice: a website, computer program, restaurant, product, article, etc. For the purposes of this assignment, please do not evaluate an abstraction—an issue, an idea, a political party, a policy. Think and write as objectively as possible, but do offer a definitive opinion.
Perhaps avoid choosing subject matter that you absolutely love; doing so might prevent you from thinking and writing objectively. Similarly, perhaps avoid choosing subject matter that you loathe; doing so might lead you to writing all the reasons it stinks. Instead, consider reviewing something you are unfamiliar with and try to look at it fairly. Base your essay on first hand experience, not second hand research.
Write 3-4 pages (750 to 1,000 words), 12 point font in Times New Roman or Arial font, and double-space your essay.
Tips for Choosing a Subject
For this essay, choose a specific subject to evaluate. Ideally, it should have a title or name. Do not choose a broad category of “things.” For example, “Social Media” represents a broad category, while “Instagram” represents a more specific platform that you could evaluate according to set criteria. And, “pickup trucks” represents a broad category, while the 2018 Ford F150 refers to a specific vehicle.
However, when you begin to establish criteria, think in broad terms about what you look for in a product or experience. If you write an evaluation of Instagram, you might first consider what features a social media site should/shouldn’t have (privacy controls, easy navigation, ability to filter, attractive graphics, etc.) Your paper will then discuss/explain how Instagram does or does not meet those criteria.
So, once you’ve decided on a topic, try this:
Brainstorm a long list completing a sentence like”A good video game needs …,” “When I go to a concert, I look for …”Fill a screen with ideas. Now, consider which of these things are personal preferences and which are objective measures of quality. For example, Coldplay may be your favorite band of all time, but it is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. So, choose objective criteria. If you “love” something, it’s a little hard to see it objectively.
It is much easier to write about something about which you have not yet formed an opinion so you can view it with “fresh” eyes. Visit a website you’ve never seen before or play that new video game you’ve heard about. It’s also helpful to choose something on which you’re somewhat of an “expert,” or something that might be useful to you. A photography major might evaluate a camera she/he was considering purchasing. If you’re an art major, write about a painting or exhibit. Don’t write about a video game if you rarely play them; instead, choose something with which you feel comfortable.
One pitfall of the evaluation paper is that there’s a big temptation to summarize or describe, rather than make judgments.Movie evaluations are especially challenging and should be avoided. It’s too tempting to just tell the reader what happened in the movie(in fact, movie reviews that do this can really spoil things for the prospective moviegoer!). You need to know a lot about film making (directing, casting, photography, scoring, etc.) in order to write a good evaluation.
It is equally difficult to evaluate an abstraction: a political policy, a candidate, etc. because these papers tend to verge on arguing about an issue, which is the subject for the next paper. So, choose something you can see, touch, or experience.
GUIDELINES FOR REFLECTION
Please write a short (250-300 words–not including the questions) reflection about writing this essay. Be honest, detailed and thorough. Write your reflection as a list of answers to these questions below. (Use MLA manuscript form, as always.) Upload your reflection as a .docx file.
> How did you come up with your topic? Why did you decide on this subject?
> How did you come up with ideas for the body of the paper? (Brainstorming? Freewriting? Converstaion? Other?)
> How did you use the feedback you got from your peers to help revise your essay?
> What changes did you make between the rough and final drafts?
> What do you like best about the final draft? What do you still have doubts or concerns about?
> What was the biggest challenge in writing this paper? Was anything fun or surprising?