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GRE Argument Essay: Omega University Implemented A New Procedure That Encouraged Students To Evaluate The Teaching Effectiveness Of All Their Professors - 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 author concludes that Omega University should terminate student evaluations of professors, because it was observed that after the evaluation had been introduced, professors were assigning higher grades to the students. Employers saw this increase in scores as inflated and considered them not accurate reflections of the students' potential. Although, this seems like a logical argument at first, certain evidence needs to be provided to justify its validity.

Firstly, the argument implies that the professors gave a higher grade to students so as to get a better evaluation. The increase in grades could have been due to increased efforts from the professors' side, to increase the possibility of receiving a good evaluation. Evidence that the students did not actually receive a higher grade due to increased efforts of professors and evidence that the increase was only due to professors grading higher, should be obtained. Furthermore, it should be found out whether a professor grading a student higher would actually lead to the student giving a better evaluation to the professor. Some students who score high anyway, may find it unfair to inaccurately grade everyone high. Hence, such students may give a bad review to the professors.

Secondly, from the argument, it seems as though employers look only at the grades of the students. Evidence supporting this fact is needed. Employers usually have a more rigorous selection procedure that is inclusive of grades in addition with many other criteria. There is a likelihood that the students failed to meet the other criteria such as a written test or interview. This could be the reason for the lesser success of Omega University than the Alpha University in securing good jobs.

Thirdly, there is an equal chance that Alpha university also has professor evaluation by students. Evidence regarding the same should be obtained, and if found true, further analysis should be done as to whether the students grades increased after the introduction of the evaluation of professors. If an increase was observed, whether the increase actually affected the placement of students in companies.

Lastly, questions like whether terminating the evaluation of professors would be beneficial need to be answered. This could only lead to more variation in the marks of students that may have a worse impact on the students performance and consequently on their placements.

Only after obtaining evidence on the above will the college be able to make a decision regarding whether or not terminating the evaluation of the professors would lead to better jobs for the graduates. This would need in depth analysis, but it would ensure that the future of the students would not be at stake.


Essay Review

Your first point is that we need evidence that would allow us to determine whether the increase in grades is due to grade inflation or to increased effort on the part of professors. That seems reasonable enough to me. You also suggest that evidence concerning the possible link between high grades and good student evaluations of professors should be obtained. You seem to want that evidence for roughly the same reason as you want the first bit of evidence: to decide whether increased grades is a matter of grade inflation.

The second argument seems less relevant to me. In the original argument the claim about what employers think of Omega graduates is a factual claim. I think you ought to evaluate the argument on the basis of the assumption that the factual claims are correct. If you are going to question the validity of factual claims, you may as question the validity of the claim that Omega students “have not been as successful at getting jobs as have graduates from nearby Alpha University." You are not expected to question such claims. For similar reasons, your third argument is also not especially relevant.

Your final argument is relevant, but is too vague. The question you identify here (whether terminating the evaluation of professors would be beneficial) is exactly the question that you ought to be concerned with. That is, you need to identify the specific evidence that would allow you to answer that question, since being able to answer that question would amount to being in a position to evaluate the argument. The argument precisely is that terminating the evaluations will have the stated benefit.

Note, however, that you need to both specify the needed evidence AND explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument. You have not done that in this essay. Specifically, you have not done it in your first paragraph, which is where you identify the kind of evidence that could help you evaluate the argument. What you need are claims like the following:

“If there were evidence showing that increased grades were not due to inflation, then terminating the evaluation program may not have the desired impact on the grades. Such evidence would therefore tend to weaken the argument. (However, if the evidence showed that students got higher grades because professors worked harder to help their students, and if professors worked harder to help their students only because of the evaluation program, then terminating the program might result in lower grades anyway by virtue of the professors’ no longer giving a damn! Such evidence might tend to strengthen the argument despite the argument being based on a false premise).

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Melissa

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