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GRE Argument--Professor evaluation vs. grade inflation

richard1994 1 / -  
Aug 14, 2012   #1
Hi guys, just need you to look at my essay! please leave your feedback. Thanks a lot!

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.

My response:
While it might be true that the evaluation policy at Omega University (OU) has led to grade inflation and needs to be canceled, the speaker's argument fails to make a logically compelling sense; he makes quite a few unfounded assumptions about the reason why the students' true performance is not reflected and why they are not successful as students in Alpha University (AU). To strengthen his argument, the speaker needs to provide more sound evidence on the grade inflation.

The first mistake the speaker makes is to assume that professors in OU all expect "flawless" feedback from student in order to get other incentives. He clearly does not consider the possibility that professor would behave in this irresponsible way. It is entirely possible that the university has policy that prohibits faculty from assigning higher grades in order to get good comment from students; professors under this policy may never think of behaving in this way. Another of his unsupported assumption is that high grade would definitely induce students to give good remark to their professors. However, it may be impossible that students will be fooled by their professors by this means. First, college students are civilized, and most of them may likely evaluate professors' effectiveness on their delivery or class organization, rather than on only grades. Second, a perfunctory high grade may even cause a serious student to give an iconoclastic feedback to his professors. If this evidence is true, the speaker's argument is threatened since he assumes that students will be flattered by professors assigning high grade.

In addition, with the fact of grade rise in OU, the speaker assumes that this rise is attributed to professors' deliberate assignment of high grades, but without considering other possible factors. A lower in class difficulty can possibly boost students' grade, and most importantly, it may be because students work harder these years that they are able to achieve higher. All these evidence, if confirmed, can undermine the speaker's initial claim that grade is inflated. Even if the grade is inflated, there is no supportive evidence suggesting that this dramatic grade increase has caused employers to reject students from OU. It may be because OU students do not have enough internship experiences or the university does not have a good local reputation. Similarly, the speaker, who asserts that the rise in grade is the cause for low recruitment rate, needs to find evidences such as that this increase has really caused the students to be suspicious.

Finally, the conclusion is also unwarranted. By comparing OU with AU, the speaker asserts that the students from OU are not as good as getting jobs based on the message said by the potential employers. However, without further defining "potential employers", he implies that employers coming to OU share the same view towards OU students as employers do around the nation. At this point, his assumption can be easily disputed if we have found that the employers are not as impartial to OU students as they are to Au students. For example, if AU is an engineering school, OU is an art school, and the employers come from Google seeking computer engineers, then AU students may be favored more than OU students. Therefore, if the two schools have different academic focuses-one teaches art while one teaches engineering-then it makes no sense to compare the success of the two groups of students only based on employment in engineering field.

Despite the flaws in his argument, the speaker might be correct in his assessment of why the evaluation would have adverse effects on students. He can further support his conclusion-to cancel evaluation policy-by collecting facts such as one that most professors have indeed infringed the faculty codes by assigning fake grades to students, or the other one that most students would be superficially willing to give their professors good comment if they received high grades. In addition, if it is confirmed that AO and OU are two very similar schools teaching the same thing and sharing the same reputation, then he may safely argue that OU students are less successful than AU students based on the comments by employers.

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