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Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar

 Study Questions



Chapter 29. EVALUATION


Introduction   Basics   Advanced   Samples   Activities


Student Samples of Evaluations




The samples below are papers by students, unless specifically noted.  They are examples of "A" level undergraduate writing or entry-level professional work.  To get a better idea of how this type of paper is written, you will want to look at all the samples.  Then compare the samples to each other and to what the "Basics" part of this chapter says.   

 The authors of all sample student papers in this Web site have given their permission in writing to have their work included in WritingforCollege.orgAll samples remain copyrighted by their original authors.  Other than showing it on this website, none should be used without the explicit permission of the author.

Unless otherwise noted, sample papers do not necessarily meet all requirements an individual instructor or professional supervisor may have: ask your instructor or supervisor.  In addition, the samples are single spaced to save room; however, a proper manuscript given to an instructor or supervisor normally should be double spaced with margins set at or close to 1" unless another format has been requested.


Sample One: Rough, Basic Evaluation of an Article

University of Minnesota
Eng 3027-11
Advanced Expository Writing
Evaluation Paper [Rough Draft]
© Jason Dreyer

Should Prisons Punish?
by Jason Dreyer


        Francis Murphy argues in "Prisons Should Punish Inmates" that rehabilitative ideals should be abandoned and that criminals should be exclusively punished for breaking society’s moral rules. This article appears in America’s Prisons: Opposing Viewpoints. The arguments appear, however, to be obtuse, perhaps because the author is disillusioned by his experience on the New York Supreme Court. The following sections, explain what makes this a weak article.


        When discussing the lack of success of different rehabilitative programs, Murphy demonstrates clear bias stemming, possibly, from his prejudice as a judge. He states that interventions such as promoting literacy, teaching vocational skills, or the use of psychotherapy all have one thing in common. Each has failed. He further adds that "ironically [the failure] has today drawn public anger not upon those working in the rehabilitative disciplines, but upon the very visible judges" (58).

        It is evident that the author has no faith in the ideals of rehabilitation (which is unfortunate, considering his career). He does not use any evidence to support his claim that these programs do not work. Instead, he implies that since he is a judge, we should just trust him. This would seem only to serve to weaken his argument for, as a judge, he is in a position that allows extreme bias. In addition, as a judge he is primarily a witness to repeat offenders. It is easy to see how Murphy could become hardened by seeing these repeaters.  However, the result--his extremist views--only serve to weaken his credibility.

The Weakness of Presumption

        Another reason this is a weak article is Murphy's presumption of knowing what all of us are thinking. He talks about how every American has lost faith in the current correctional system, as well as in society in general. 

        For example, using no statistics or outside sources, he writes, "Inevitably, a sense of helplessness, a foreboding of a collapse of public order is present at every dinner table" (59). In addition, Murphy tells us that no American has confidence in the traditional prison system.  Francis Murphy has never been a guest at my dinner table. He cannot presume to know what every American is thinking. At least when he demonstrates bias, he discusses something with which he is familiar. Murphy lists no credentials as a sociologist or similar expert, so he is beyond his element in making generalizations of this nature.

Examples Are Missing

        In the entire article, Murphy uses no examples to validate his many assertions. He employs the theories of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and sociologist Karl Marx but never offers a practical application. He states, "As for the rehabilitative ideal, it should be stripped of its pretentiousness, if not its very name" (60). Why should it be stripped of its name? What drives the author to feel this way? What has actually happened (or not happened) to shape his opinion? These questions are left unanswered. Without practical examples, the reader remains unconvinced and must question why the author is so passionate in his theories.


        In "Prisons Should Punish Inmates," Judge Francis Murphy argues that we should abandon rehabilitation for inmates. Citing no examples and an evident bias from his profession, the author tries to tell us how we already feel by regurgitating what amounts to an unproven theology that has little to do with the main argument. For these reasons, his article is weak and better dismissed as hearsay.


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Sample Two: Evaluation of an Article Using Research

SPECIAL NOTES: This is an academic evaluation paper requiring research.  The bibliography at the end would, in a normal manuscript, start on a separate page.

North Hennepin Community College
Eng 121-02, English I
Evaluation Paper
© Kelly L. Cook

Evaluation of “Honey, I Warped the Kids”
by Kelly L. Cook


            Carl M. Cannon reasons in “Honey, I Warped the Kids” in the Utne Reader that violence on television must be suppressed due to its effects on human behavior.  This evaluation will show that though the author makes some good use of statistical findings, he leaves many holes in his argument by not thoroughly discussing opposing opinions.                


            Cannon's basic argument is that television violence should be censored.  This paragraph summarizes the structure and contents of his essay.  The structure of “Honey, I Warped the Kids” is that of a thesis paper and an ending analysis.  The essay's format is almost completely based on numbers and dates with few personal examples.  Cannon systematically lists the studies and opinions of others who agree with him and does not discuss opposing positions.  In content, first Cannon discusses the sociological interest in the subject of television violence and mentions that “the first congressional hearings took place in 1954” (95).  He follows that with a list of studies that prove a causal relationship between television violence and real violence. Toward the end of the article, he mentions why nothing has been done to put a stop to the ever-increasing violence on the TV screen.  Cannon believes that this lack of action is because Congress must exercise caution and responsibility while dealing with this issue (96). Ultimately, he believes, most possible actions must deal with the sensitive issue of censorship.

Strong Points

            First, in evaluating Cannon's argument, it is possible to find a couple of strong points. One occurs when he cites a study done by two doctors about the effects of violence.  These doctors, after keeping updates on a group of kids for twenty-two years, "found that watching violence on television is the single best predictor of violent or aggressive behavior later in life, ahead of such commonly accepted factors as parents' behavior, poverty, and race" (96).   This points out just how significant the effects are.  The study magnifies the significance so that one might realize the urgency of overcoming the impasse between censorship and the facts arguing against television violence.  Cannon supports the finding with a quotation from the doctors: “Television affects youngsters of all ages, of both genders, at all socioeconomic levels and all levels of intelligence” (96).  

            The second strong point that Cannon makes concerns the availability of violent material. This is a pertinent point because one may forget how absolutely submerged American culture is in violent media.  Once again, Cannon supports his point by summarizing the work of researchers George Gerbner and Nancy Signorielli.  “For the past 22 years," says Cannon, "they found, adults and children have been entertained by about sixteen violent acts, including two murders, in each evening's prime-time programming” (96).

Missing Points

            On the other hand, Cannon's article seems a one-sided debate.  He completely ignores even the possibility of an opposing opinion.  First of all, Cannon commits the “straw man” fallacy.  The only mention he makes of a study that contradicts his own opinion is one that was done by NBC television network.  The tone suggests that he believes that he makes a real point for his case, but really he discredits his opinion by choosing such a weak opposing argument.

            The statistics in the NBC study, which are touted by well-meaning critics, contradict themselves. The study claims on the one hand that violence desensitizes children; on the other, that it also incites more violence.  In spite of this ambivalent evidence, Cannon's research is deliberate and narrow-minded in intention, using only what he needs to support his own point of view and ignoring the NBC evidence.  In point of fact, it is arguable that images do not spill blood, but rather rage, desperation, and revenge, especially when they are equipped with guns.  According to Todd Gitlin, there were " 36,000 murders, accidents, and suicides committed by gunshots in the United States in 1992" alone (93).

            "Honey, I Warped the Kids” seems at first to be a reasonable article.  While one reads this article one may be convinced, thinking that statistics alone can decide the fate of their children. However, if an opposing viewpoint had been better represented, the casual reader may not have come to the same conclusion as Cannon.

Affect on Others

            The issue of the results of violence seen on TV is a hotly debated one, and Cannon's article is sure to affect others.  The article does have the capacity to alter people's opinions on the subject. Someone who is biased like Cannon can easily misuse the reading, developing an incomplete view of the situation.  This again is a result of the missing information.  A reader who is of the same opinion as Cannon will enjoy the article, for it fuels the argument against violent media.  One particular anecdote mentioned in Cannon's article provides an excellent example of the powerful but one-sided nature of Cannon's debate.  This is Cannon's example of young, male students viewing “slasher films” and forming a mock jury in order to decide their degree of empathy for a fictitious rape victim (96).  Such images, however strong, are not typical of real life.

            The most likely group to be affected by Cannon's article is parents.  Parents who read the article may be led to censor their children's TV programs.  The article could also be inspiration enough for more extreme acts of censorship such as book banning and limitations on what is taught in school.  

Emotional Appeals

            Someone who disagrees with the article “Honey, I Warped the Kids" may find Cannon's position quite troubling.  Gitlin says, "It’s dark out there in the world of real violence, hopelessness, drugs, and guns. There is little political war on poverty, guns, or family break­down.  Here, we are offered instead a crusade against media violence" (93).  People reading Cannon's article could become extremely frustrated because it seems to place blame on a single source and condone censorship of that source.  Actually the article calls the censorship “protection" (96).

            Americans have established a free society through our declaration of intolerance to prudish oppression and a loyalty to freedom.  To permit punishment for what citizens have seen, heard, or read is an unacceptable concept that many people may consider an infringement on the rights of Americans.  In many, “Honey, I Warped the Kids" would evoke fear, for when censorship of certain materials is allowed, it becomes a disease, spreading to other materials.

            Just as some parents may be attracted to Cannon's article, some may find it disgusting.  Since Cannon suggests censorship as a solution, parents may have concern about how their children's education is affected.  Victor Cline insists that censorship limits students' education, leaving them with distorted views of society.  Cline also suggests that parents don't trust their children's judgment (6).  He asks, "How can we expect to produce a free, reasoning person who can make his own decisions, understand his culture, and live compassionately with his fellow man if we censor vital elements of his culture and human experience" (6)?

        Another emotional appeal or effect may occur, too.  Some people may be outraged by the article, feeling that censors are a greater danger to society than the works they attack.


        The article “Honey, I Warped the Kids” makes the point that, due to its effects on children, violence on television must end.  In conclusion, the author uses many good studies to prove his point, but he misses many relevant opposing viewpoints.  Also, the reading may have negative emotional affects on some readers.


Works Cited

Cannon, Carl M.  “Honey, I Warped the Kids,” Utne Reader. May-June 1994: 95­96.

Cline, Victor. Where Do You Draw the Line. Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981.

Gitlin, Todd. “Imagebusters,” Utne Reader winter 1994: 92-93.

Wade, Carole and Carol Tavris. Psychology, 3rd ed. “Media Violence: Getting Away With Murder.” New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Additional Sources

Fore, William. Television and Religion: The Shape of Faith, Values, and Culture. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1987.

Howe, Dr. Leland, and Dr. Bernard Solomon. How to Raise Children In a TV World. New York: Hart Publishing Company, 1983.

Postman, Nell. Amusing Ourselves to Death. New York: Random House, 1987.

Winn, Marie. Plug-In Drug. New York: Viking Penguin, 1987.


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Section E.
Responding to Reading




Chapter 29. Evaluation:







Related Chapters/Pages:

Critical Thinking

Research Writing

 Related Links in

  3. Thinking & Reading

12. Types of Papers

14. Online Readings

16. Research Writing

 In 16: "Evaluating Web Sites"


Updated 1 Aug. 2013

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