The primary purpose of this workshop is to ensure that the writer has developed a clear and convincing thesis/argument/proposal. Put your pencil down and your hands behind your back; now, read the essay in its entirety before answering any of the following questions. Take your time reading.
- Turn the essay face down after having read it. Now pick up your pencil. Without looking back at the essay, what did you consider its thesis statement? Jot down your version of the thesis statement below.
- Look at the original thesis statement now. How does it compare to your version? Are both statements fairly close and accurate in extracting the essence of what the writer is trying to say?
- Has the writer narrowed in on a specific proposal in a specific controversy--or is the topic still too broad and general? What do you suggest?
- Take a close look at the lead-in. Is it interesting and catchy? Explain in detail why--or why not.
- List the points of support the writer uses to argue his or her main point.
Obviously, the writer may have more--or fewer--argument in favor of his or her proposal.
- Are the arguments presented clearly the ones most likely to convince the audience? Are the arguments themselves convincing? What other points can you think of that may help the essay become even more convincing? (Use back of this page.)
- Are all assertions supported properly? Are there any facts or opinions given that are not directly supported either with data or logical reasoning (analysis)? Suggest, specifically, where additional support--or an explanation--may be needed.
- *If applicable: Some of you will have counter-argumentation which, of course, needs to be supported as well to avoid one-sided propaganda. If this writer's paper is a pro/con essay, please evaluate his or her counter-arguments, their support, and their validity (to the best of your knowledge or reasoning skills). Use the same strategy as suggested by questions #5, 6, and 7, and answer them on the back of this page. Otherwise, go right to the next set of instructions below.
- Comment on the essay's organization. Is the most effective arrangement of ideas/paragraphs used? Please make specific suggestions that could make this essay even more organized, i.e., coherent and easier to follow and understand.
- Mark places where quotations or references are awkwardly or incorrectly used (on the writer's draft).
- All in all, has the writer convinced you of his or her position? Why or why not? Be specific.
- Evaluate the conclusion of the essay. Does everything come together for you? Does the writer merely repeat what has already been brought to our attention? Make specific suggestions to help the writer create a smooth and satisfying conclusion.
If you have time, please check for mechanical errors that may be distracting.