I need to write an evaluation essay. How do I choose the criteria on which to judge the evaluation

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The assignment of writing an evaluation essay, of course, is one which calls for an objective perception of a product, a method, a place, an object, a situation, etc., followed by a judgment of the merits or shortcomings of that which is being evaluated. So, after the writer has developed a thesis in which a strong and decisive judgment has been made, this thesis must be supported with logical aspects and supportable facts that affect the judgment. These aspects and facts, then, are the criteria.

One Online Writing Lab states that in the evaluation essay "the writer must assert him or herself by making a definitive judgment." Here are two examples that show the contrast between a strong, "definitive judgment" and a weak one.

STRONG: Based upon a three-year study, 3x Whitening Toothpaste has produced visible whitening of the teeth and helped to reduce cavities; therefore, it is a good product. [There are supportable facts]

WEAK: 3x Toothpaste tastes better than other whitening toothpastes and is a good product. [This contains an opinion]

Criteria for evaluating something certainly depends upon what is being evaluated. But, if it is a consumable product that is being evaluated, criteria, then, should include some studies/tests done on this product such as mentioned in the example. As another example, there are usually crash tests done on automobiles; there is a history of how well features on the cars work, etc., 

If the writer is evaluating something that is not a material, consumable product such as a work of art or literature or music, then other criteria are necessary. For instance, if the evaluation is on a work of literature, then the criteria can be the separate components of theme, setting, characters, conflict development and resolution (plot), and point of view. How well these parts work together to accomplish the author's purpose is the evaluation. With art and music, too, how skillful the individual aspects are as well as how well they work together composes the evaluation.

The key to a successful evaluation is a logical analysis and an objective judgment. Keeping personal preferences and opinions not based on any fact or logic out is the key to a successful evaluation.

See the links below. The evaluation essay link provides a checklist that may be helpful.

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