An evaluation essay is a piece of writing that details whether or not something meets fails to meet, or exceeds standards. Essentially, it communicates the quality or lack of quality of its subject. Nearly anything can be the topic of an evaluation essay. A meal, a marketing campaign, an employee training program, a method for conducting research, a movie, or a piece of art are just a few examples of things that can be evaluated.
There are many scenarios where a student may find themselves facing an evaluation essay assignment. It’s an excellent ‘English 101’ assignment because it can help students learn disciplined research and unbiased writing. It also works well in advanced classes where a student may be asked to evaluate methodologies or research instruments.
Students writing these essays need to be aware of potential pitfalls. An evaluation essay is not a review. While it’s impossible to eliminate the role of opinion entirely, objective criteria must be applied. If it helps, think of it like this. A review of a local BBQ restaurant would consist of your opinions on the food and service. An evaluation of a local BBQ restaurant would discuss whether or not the food and service met specific criteria.
Steps to Follow
Select Your Topic
If you are given a choice of topics, start by creating list of subjects that are relevant to your class. It is best to focus on things for which objective criteria can be set.
Find or Establish Reasonable Criteria For Evaluation
Remember that the difference between an evaluation and a review is that an evaluation has predetermined criteria. This needs to be established before you conduct any research. Depending on your topic, you may need to find that criteria. For example, have their been standards of quality established by regulatory boards or previous research? Another option is to establish the criteria yourself.
Create a Plan For Conducting The Evaluation
The next thing to cover is conducting the evaluation? Can you provide a fair evaluation after a single experience? Should you create multiple scenarios where you repeat the experience under different conditions? Going back to the example of the BBQ restaurant, let’s imagine are evaluating the efficiency at which carryout orders are delivered to customers when they arrive. You might want to evaluate during busy times and slow times.
Here’s another thing to consider. Will it impact the outcome of your research if others are aware you are conducting any sort of an evaluation.
Take Notes During And After The Experience
If it’s possible, try to jot down notes during the experience. Then write down even more thoughts once you are finished. Remember that too much of a delay could cause fuzzy recollection. Consider using a recording device if that is allowed and won’t unfairly impact your experience and evaluation.
Categorize Your Notes
Notes should be placed into three categories. The first are objective observations. For example,, whether or not you received food at a restaurant in less than ten minutes is objective. The second should be outright opinions. These are observations you make that are very subjective. The final category should be observations that mix both objective observations with subjective opinions. This could be your thoughts and observation on friendliness. Whether or not a server thanks you for coming is objective. Your perceptions regarding their tone of voice on the other hand is subjective.
Create Your Outline
Your outline should contain the beginnings of your intro paragraph including your thesis. The write out the main ideas and supporting arguments for each. Finally, outline your conclusion. Remember that your thesis should state whether or not the evaluation criteria have been met. Your intro paragraph should also clearly outline the standards and how those were established.
Write Your Essay
Now is the time to take your notes and outline and complete your evaluation essay. Focus on clearly establishing the criteria and proving how each was met or not. Remember to transition smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.
Edit And Polish
As with any other essay, editing and proofreading is key. Double check for issues with spelling and grammar. Check out your citation format. Ensure that your spacing, font, and other issues are on correct. Finally, read your essay out loud to be certain it is clear and well-written.
Points to Think About
Your evaluation should be relevant to your readers.
You should describe your methodology.
Enlist the help of a friend to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some mistakes to avoid.
Establishing criteria after the experience.
Failing to create a plan ahead of time.
Taking an approach that is too casual.
Dos And Don’ts
- Tell readers how you established the criteria. Provide links if available
- Discuss any issues that could impact the evaluation
- Research previous evaluations of the same topic
- Get feedback on your topic selection
- Include opinions that don’t relate to the evaluation criteria
- Hesitate to repeat an experience if something goes wrong
- Miss peer review sessions