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GRE Argument Essay: Omega University - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: “Fifteen years ago, Omega University implemented a new procedure that encouraged students to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of all their professors. Since that time, Omega professors have begun to assign higher grades in their classes, and overall student grade averages at Omega have risen by 30 percent. Potential employers, looking at this dramatic rise in grades, believe that grades at Omega are inflated and do not accurately reflect student achievement; as a result, Omega graduates have not been as successful at getting jobs as have graduates from nearby Alpha University. To enable its graduates to secure better jobs, Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors. Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.”
The arguer states that Omega University implemented a procedure to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of professors five years ago and student grade averages have risen by 30% since then. The arguer states that potential employers think that grades at Omega are inflated and do not accurately reflect student achievement and hence Omega students are not as successful as students from Alpha University. The author of this argument should consider the other possibilities and gather evidence to rule them out before concluding that terminating the procedure of student evaluation of professors at Omega University would enable its graduates to secure better jobs.
First, it is stated in the argument that Omega professors have begun to assign higher grades in their classes. Do the professors assign higher grades to their class when there is no improvement in student performance? Since the students are encouraged to evaluate the teaching effectiveness of all their professors, they would have shown much interest to lectures so that they could observe carefully how every professor teaches them. This could have made them understand their syllabus well and hence improve their performance. Also, Omega University would have implemented other procedures like strict study hours for 3-4 hours every day at student dorms. These could have made students show real improvements in their performance and hence the higher grades. So the arguer has to provide evidence on actual reasons for the increase in student grades, may be by comparing student performances before and after the implementation of new procedure.
The argument states that the employers think that these inflated grades do not accurately reflect student achievement. Maybe the employers dont think that way about Omega University student's grades and no evidence is given in the argument to prove that. Maybe the students from Omega university do not perform so well as students from Alpha University in the job interviews and that is the reason for the Omega University students being not very successful. The author of this argument collects evidence like teaching methods of Alpha and Omega universities. Students from Omega University may not have been given any coaching for attending job interviews whereas Alpha University provides their students with adequate coaching for attending job interviews and mock interviews. Without knowing whether Alpha University provides any such special coaching for its students and whether the skill of the professors and their teaching methods in both universities are the same, we cannot conclude that Omega University students are less successful only due to implementation of new procedure.
Finally, we do not know the present grades of Omega University students and Alpha university students. The author has cited the fact that there has been an increase of 30% in the grades of students since the implementation of new procedure. But the author has provided no figures showing average scores of Omega University students and Alpha University students. Alpha University students may have been scoring higher grades than the Omega University students even before the implementation of this procedure. The raise in grades of students at Omega University does not necessarily mean that the student grades have increased more than student grades at Alpha University. If the Alpha University students' grades are the top despite the increase in Omega University students' grades, then we can obviously see why Alpha students are more successful that Omega students and terminating the new procedure may not enable students to secure better jobs. Hence without this evidence, we cannot agree with the conclusion that Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors in order for the students to secure better jobs.
You can demonstrate that you have correctly understood the prompt by the accuracy of your answer, so there is not much to be gained by rephrasing the prompt in your introduction. Since the conclusion to your first paragraph also doesn’t contribute to the completion of the assigned task, it may be that the whole of the first paragraph is unnecessary. I would recommend, in any case, getting more quickly to the point, which will both save you time, and appeal to your reader.
Your first argument is implicit rather than explicit. Articulate your arguments directly, instead of indirectly by way of rhetorical questions. The question “Do the professors assign higher grades to their class when there is no improvement in student performance?” is either a rhetorical question (to which presumably you expect the answer “no”), in which case it does nothing to advance your argument, or it is a real question, but one which you do not answer. For what it is worth, professors can be moved to assign higher grades when there is no improvement in performance. Sad to say, grade inflation happens.
Your first argument is based on an identification of a possible way in which the implementation of student evaluations led to an actual improvement in student performance. You need to make the general argument explicit: “The implementation of student evaluations of professors may have led to an actual improvement in student performances.” And then explain why you think that might be true (I would suggest that a more likely reason than the first one you offer would be that professors might improve their teaching if it is subject to evaluation). Note, however, that the final sentence of this (your second) paragraph, is the first sentence in the essay that is explicitly responding to the instructions: “Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.” I think you ought to begin your essay with a version of that sentence (again, the last sentence of your second paragraph). That is, begin with something like: “The evidence that is needed to evaluate the argument includes etc.” Then explain why that evidence is needed. Then explain how it would weaken or strengthen the argument. Note that you don’t complete this final step, which you must do. Again, it would involve making a fairly simple, explicit statement: “If the evidence demonstrated an actual improvement in student performance, rather than grade inflation, then the recommendation would be a poor one because etc.”
(Note, however, that if there were improvements in actual performance caused by an improvement in the quality of the teaching that was occasioned in turn by the implementation of the student evaluations, then removing the student evaluations would be a grotesque response, but might still ultimately have the desired result of lowering student grades: the professors would go back to teaching poorly and the students would go back to underperforming; the stupid employers would start employing stupid students, and everyone would be happy!)
Your next argument is that perhaps the employers don’t think the grades are inflated. I’m not sure that this is a valid criticism, since the fact that employers think the grades are inflated is stated in the prompt as a fact, not as an opinion, or an hypothesis. If it were legitimate to treat it as a hypothesis, then the final two paragraphs would be reasonable, but I would recommend focussing on specifying the evidence that would explain improvement in student grades and then evaluate the actual recommendation. However, in cases where you may be unsure whether a statement is an arguable claim or an established fact, and you want to treat it is an arguable claim, then you can perhaps deflect a possible objection from your reader by noting specifically what you are doing, in this manner: “It is not clear from the statement whether the claim is an established fact, or an arguable opinion. If we treat it as an arguable opinion, then we need to consider evidence that might shed light on the validity of that opinion. For example, et cetera.”