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The following appeared as part of a newspaper editorial.
years ago Nova High School began to use interactive computer instruction in
three academic subjects. The
school dropout rate declined immediately, and last year’s
graduates have reported some impressive achievements in college. In future
budgets the school board should
use a greater portion of the available funds to buy more
computers, and all schools in the district should adopt interactive computer
instruction throughout the
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
Sample essay 1:
The argument that the school board should buy
more computers and adopt interactive computer instruction is not entirely
logically convincing, since it ignores
certain crucial assumptions. First, the
argument assumes that the decline of school dropout and the achievements of last
year’s graduates’ results from the adoption
of interactive computer instruction. However, there are several reasons why this
might not be true. For example, achievements could
have been made in other subjects than the ones with interactive computer
instruction. Or last years’ graduates might not have been
given the interactive computer instruction. Or the decline of the rate of
dropout could be attributed to stricter discipline applied last
Second, even supposing the Nova High School’s
decline of the dropout and last year’s graduates’ achievements benefit
directly from the usage of interactive
computer instruction, the success of the instruction in one school may not
ensure the success in other schools. If it does
not suit other schools, the instruction will not work. Finally,
even if the decline of the rate of dropout and the achievements of the last year’s
graduates’ are the direct results of the interactive
computer instruction, we still do not know whether the school can afford to
apply the instruction on all the subjects or to all the
students. If the school does not have sufficient fund and has to cut budgets on
other projects such
as the library, the quality of the school’s
education will also compromise.
Thus, the argument is not completely sound.
The evidence in support of the conclusion that the dropout rate declined and
last year’s graduates made impressive
achievements does little to prove the conclusion that other schools should use a
greater portion of their funds to apply
the instruction since it does not address the assumptions I have already raised.
Ultimately, the argument might have been
strengthened by making it clear that
the decline of the dropout rate and the
achievements of the graduates are the direct results of
interactive computer instruction, that
the instruction is also applicable to
other schools in the district, and
that the instruction is affordable
to all the schools in the district.
Sample essay 2:
The editorial recommends that the school
board of Nova High spend a greater portion of available funds on the purchase of
additional computers and adopt interactive
computer instruction throughout the curriculum. Two reasons are offered in
support of this recommendation. First, the
introduction of interactive computer instruction in three academic subjects was
immediately followed by a decline in the
school dropout rate. Second, last year’s graduates experienced impressive
achievements in college. This argument is unconvincing
for two reasons.
To begin with, this argument is a classic
instance of “after this, therefore because of this” reasoning. The mere fact
that the introduction of interactive
computer instruction preceded
the impressive performance of recent
graduates and the decline in the dropout
rate is insufficient to conclude that it was the cause of these events. Many
other factors could bring
about these same results.
For example, the school may have implemented
counseling and training programs that better meet the needs of students who
might otherwise leave school to take jobs.
In addition, the school may have introduced programs to better prepare students
for college. Secondly, the author assumes
that the impressive achievements of last year’s graduates bear
some relation to the introduction of
interactive computer instruction at Nova High.
However, no evidence is offered to support this assumption. Lacking evidence
that links the achievements of the recent
graduates to the interactive instruction, it is presumptuous
to suggest that the computer instruction
was in some way responsible
for the students’ impressive performance.
In conclusion, the recommendation that Nova
High spend a greater portion of available funds on the purchase of additional
computers and adopt interactive computer
instruction throughout the curriculum is ill-founded.
To strengthen this recommendation the author would have
to demonstrate that the decline in the dropout rate and the impressive
performance of recent graduates came
about as a result of
the use of computer-interactive instruction. All that has been shown so far is a