Sample Argumentative Essay

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ENL 260    Essay 3 – Evaluative Argument—Is it good or bad?                

Topic: Write a carefully researched and properly documented (MLA format) evaluative argument essay. Choose what you decide to evaluate carefully. If the judgment you make (about a person, idea, action, event…) or the criteria you use to evaluate your subject is obvious, then it lacks the potential to be original and engaging and will not fulfill the assignment.

Your Goal: Choose an evaluative argument topic you care about and make the audience care—by using appropriate reasons (content) and tone to fully engage the audience. In other words: be original and sound like a real person who has something to say worth the audience’s time.

You Must: Organize your essay. Your argument should support a definite thesis and follow a logical order that your audience can understand.

–                       Clarify your central claim (thesis) and make certain it is evaluative in nature

–                       Establish the criteria you use to evaluate your subject (list criteria clearly)

o                      Make sure your thesis and/or criteria are controversial, interesting and original

–                       Define and persuade the audience to accept your criteria as necessary

–                       Support your assessment of how your topic meets or falls short of the criteria and include sensory detail (see, hear, smell, touch, taste) to engage your audience

–                       Consider alternative views and counterarguments as necessary

–                       Properly document your sources using MLA format—Minimum 2 sources (no quote longer than 2 lines) from Library Databases and include an Annotated Bibliography (see Hand Out)

–                       Artfully integrate sources and establish credibility using They Say/I Say; no “hit and run” quotes

–                       Conclude by drawing out the implications of the argument (DON’T leave the reader wondering—so what?) by having a clear purpose

–                       Produce the first draft of 500 – 600 words with sources and an Annotated Bibliography (word count is for the essay only, not the annotated bibliography)


An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources you use. Your annotations in this class will include summary, evaluation, and reflection; each of the 3 sections after the citation should be 75-100 words.

Cite: Properly cite your source in MLA format.

Summarize: Begin by summarizing the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is. The summary does not include your judgment or opinion: just the facts.

Evaluate: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source? Evaluation of the quality/reliability of your source is based on your opinion.

Reflect: Once you’ve summarized and evaluated a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic? Reflection on the utility of your source for a specific purpose (assignment/project/paper) is based on your opinion.

Why should I write an annotated bibliography? –

•                       To learn about your topic: Writing an annotated bibliography is excellent preparation for a research project. Just collecting sources for a bibliography is useful, but when you have to write annotations for each source, you’re forced to read each source more carefully. You begin to read more critically instead of just collecting information. At the professional level, annotated bibliographies allow you to see what has been done in the literature and where your own research or scholarship can fit.

•                       To help you formulate a thesis: Every good research paper is an argument. The purpose of the research is to state and support a thesis. So a very important part of the research is developing a thesis that is debatable, interesting, and current. Writing an annotated bibliography can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic. By reading and responding to a variety of sources on a topic, you’ll start to see what the issues are, what people are arguing about, and you’ll then be able to develop your own point of view.

•                       To help other researchers: Extensive and scholarly annotated bibliographies are sometimes published. They provide a comprehensive overview of everything important that has been and is being said about that topic. You may not ever get your annotated bibliography published, but as a researcher, you might want to look for one that has been published about your topic.

Source: Purdue OWL:

In the Sample MLA Annotated Bibliography below the writer includes three paragraphs after citing the source: a summary, an evaluation of the text, and a reflection on its applicability to his/her own research, respectively. (Sample can be found at: )


Annotated Bibliography

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books,     

                        1995. Print.

Lamott’s book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its

insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a

writer, the chapters in Lamott’s book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on

everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling

with one’s own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises

designed to be both productive and fun.

Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her

main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing,

publishing and struggling with one’s own imperfect humanity in the process.

Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is

indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its

encouraging approach.

Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class.

Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to

generate discussion on students’ own drafting and revising processes. Some of

the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing

exercises. Students should find Lamott’s style both engaging and enjoyable

Title: Evaluative argument essay

Student’s Name:

Name of Course:

Institutional Affiliation:

Date Submitted:

Online degree programs are the latest craze in the world of academia. Despite the current hype that is associated with these degree programs, they should not be regarded as better than the traditional degree programs that are pursued in brick-and-mortar lecture rooms. Students who attend online lecture sessions can never get the experience that is similar to that of attending a live lecture hall and acquiring knowledge in an atmosphere full of natural liveliness. The virtual world of online learning is enslaving, deceiving and alienates the student from real-world experiences.


Many people who choose to undertake online university degree programs cite a lack of funds to commute to and from the university and pay accommodation, while at the same time working. Herrington observes that although one can save a lot of money through online degree courses, the cost of lost opportunities to learn and interact with other learners is much higher (61). It should not be forgotten that university education is not just about career, profession and work; it is also about living life to the fullest. Time spent at the university is a precious episode in one’s life. The university environment is more inspiring and enriching than the virtual space through which an online student receives instructions, assessment tests, and examinations.

If you are contemplating pursuing further studies on one of the online platforms that are currently being made available by many universities all over the world, you may as well forget all about it. You are better waiting a little longer, saving some extra cash for a year or two, and dedicating the next two years to an enlightening and thoroughly interactive life with academicians in a brick-and-mortar university.

Johnson notes that other than the excitement of achieving an undergraduate, masters, doctoral or post-doctoral degree without ever stepping into a university, there is much to worry about, including the sense of enslavement that comes with being glued on your computer screen for what seems like an eternity (35). The sense of alienation can be overwhelming if your job is not tremendously enthralling or your family does not understand the nature of professional and academic commitments.

A student’s verbal skills are not properly honed since there is no natural environment in which the learner can acquire leadership skills. Again, people skills are absent, since there are no direct interactions with fellow students as well as lecturers and tutors. Communication modes such as phone, video conferences, fax’ and email lessen the sense of alienation, although in the end, it is deceptive since it can never give the student a sense of belonging like all the other students who are always physically brushing shoulders with fellow learners and lecturers in the department.

Some people say that since the workplace is increasingly depending on web interaction and email, you will be perfecting your ability to be an efficient communicator by pursuing an online degree course. The problem with this way of thinking is that some communication scenarios require an individual to deliver the message personally in an organization. A graduate who is only used to communicating through a computer interface throughout his studies will easily be overwhelmed by a situation of crisis that requires him as an administrator to give out a lengthy speech whereby nothing more than reassurances is desperately needed. Do not be deceived; online university degree courses are not as glamorous as they are portrayed on the internet. The virtual environment of online learning will only excite you within the first few months and you will be dead bored for the rest of the online degree program.

Works cited

Herrington, Jan. “Patterns Of Engagement In Authentic Online Learning Environments” Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 19.1(2003,): 59-71.

Johnson, Scott. “Comparative analysis of learner satisfaction and learning outcomes in online and face-to-face learning environments” Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 11.1 (2000): 29-49.

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