Workshop Sheet: Pro/Con Essay (McMahon)

Please begin by reading through this workshop sheet. Then, read through your partner's entire essay once. Finally, answer the following questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible, making suggestions for improvement wherever necessary.

  1. Re-read the introduction. How clearly is the controversial topic introduced? How clearly does the writer present his/her own position toward this controversial topic? Does the writer need to define terms and concepts? How could the writer improve the introduction in terms of clarity and interest?
  2. What counter-arguments does the writer present to his/her own position? How clearly and accurately are these counter-arguments presented? As a reader, do you suspect the writer has inaccurately presented these counter-arguments? How could the writer improve the presentation of the counter-arguments?
  3. How does the writer refute each counter-argument? Does he/she support the refutations by noting hidden assumptions, illogical reasoning, appeals to values not commonly held? If the writer uses personal experience to refute the counter-arguments, how well does this personal experience work as refutation? How could the writer improve the support provided for his/her refutations?
  4. In addition to refuting counter-arguments, what other support and evidence does the writer provide for his/her position? How could the writer improve the development of this support and evidence?
  5. Examine the overall organization of the essay. How could the writer improve the organization?
  6. Who is the intended audience for this essay? How successful has the writer been in persuading this audience of his/her position? How could the writer more effectively persuade this audience?