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Argument 12: Omega University GRE Essay - 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.”

In this argument, the author concludes that Omega University should terminate its student evaluation of professors, started 15 years ago, to ensure the graduates to secure better jobs. To justify this claim, the author points out Omega University. had seen a significant grade enhancement since the evaluation system began. Moreover, the author further states that potential employers, looking at this dramatic rise in grades, believe that grades at Omega are inflated and do not accurately reflect student achievement and thereby the success of graduates getting job is inferior to that from nearby Alpha University. At first glance, the reasoning seems to be convincing and logical. However, a close scrutiny of this argument reveals that it is invalid in several aspects.

To begin with, the arguer unfairly assumes that the underlying reason for the average 30% grades rise over all students in Omega Univ. is the professors’ intentionally cheating to obtain higher ranking from students. It is entirely possible that such an average increase exactly reflects the students’ achievement if the professors, to obtain higher ranks from students, spend more time and energy on their work and indeed develop some effective teaching techniques after the evaluation system implemented. Or the Omega Univ. might take some reforms, like paying the students with higher grades, improving the admission requirement and so forth. In short, without ruling out all other possible explanations for average grades rise after the evaluation system began, the author cannot convince me that this rise is inflated, let alone the conclusion based upon it.

Next, the arguer should prove the credibility about the potential employers’ concern on the dramatic average grades rise. It is quite possible that this concern is only from a small number of employers. As a matter fact, for the company, the stands of hiring new members are not only based on the study grades. Maybe they prefer the students with more internship experience or higher ability of leaning knowledge and collaborating with colleagues. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that most of employers would not take much more concern on the grades. In addition, even if the concern is indeed from most of the potential employers, it doesn’t mean that it will not vary with the time going. As 15-year is long period, it is entirely possible the employers’ concern on the dramatic grades rise will disappear after seeing significant achievement from the hired students of Omega Uni. Until the author provides further information to exclude all these concerns, it is unfounded to reach the conclusion involved in the argument.

Finally, the author tries to establish a causal relationship between the student evaluation system and the disadvantage of Omega graduates on the job market by making a comparison with nearby Alpha Univ. However, the author fails to demonstrate when this phenomenon has come into people’s sight. Perhaps the above-mentioned weakness happened more than 15 years ago, which actually is the main reason of implementing the evaluation system. Even if it occurred just after the evaluation system began, it is illogical to attribute it to the evaluation system by ignoring some other possible reasons. Just as above stated, the students, who don’t have any internship or social service experience except for the higher grades, are not welcomed among the employers. Therefore, any of the above cases, if true, could render the inference based upon it highly suspect.

In sum, the conclusion reached in this argument is invalid and misleading. To make it logically acceptable, the arguer would have to provide more information to remove all the consideration stated above.

___________________________

ESSAY REVIEW

You’ve taken the same approach to this essay as you took to the previous essay (about the Arctic deer). The same criticism therefore applies: the conclusion may be valid and your task is to determine what additional evidence would be needed to test its validity.

I think your introduction is unnecessary; i.e., I don’t think you need to waste so much time restating the content of the prompt. Just do the things you will get credit for: identifying needed evidence and explaining its impact on the argument. With that in mind, you don’t need to question factual claims. Of course it is always possible to question factual claims, such as the claim that employers believe grades are inflated (which is an example of a factual claim; it is stated as a fact, not an instance of speculation or rumor), but since doing so doesn’t demonstrate your ability to analyse an argument and isn’t required by the prompt, I don’t really see the value in it. That doesn’t mean that you cannot identify assumptions of the argument, as you do quite well in your second paragraph. The question that you are in effect asking there is whether there is another possible explanation of the increase in grade averages. You can complete that paragraph by specifying types of evidence that would allow you to determine whether possible alternative explanations are valid and then clarify the significance such evidence might have for the argument. You say that “without ruling out all other possible explanations ... the author cannot convince me” that the increase in average grades is due to grade inflation.” That’s not specific enough and it’s not a complete clarification of how the argument should be evaluated. Let’s say that there is, for example, evidence concerning changes in the teaching habits of professors, as there might be if you have fifteen years of student evaluations to look at. What then? How specifically would such evidence affect the conclusion that “Omega University should terminate student evaluation of professors”? Presumably you would say that there would be no good reason to follow the recommendation, but the point is you actually have to say that! Of course you might also think that increases in grade average might be attributable both to grade inflation and changes in teaching habits. You might even think that if the existence of student evaluations caused professors to perform better, then getting rid of them might cause the professors to underperform. That would be a silly and unethical way to lower the grade averages, of course.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Civil-ago
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