47 Introduction to Evaluative Writing
by Amy Minervini
Evaluation is the process of using specific criteria in an effort to ‘judge’ the quality or effectiveness of something. We use evaluation skills every day when we decide which grocery store to shop, which restaurant to eat, which movie to go see or stream, and which product to buy off Amazon. We may even use others’ evaluations of places or products in order to make decisions. This is why review sites and apps are so popular and why people rely on reviews when buying things.
But evaluation is more akin to analysis than merely giving a preference. For example, if you wanted to know about a new restaurant that just opened in town, someone saying ‘I just didn’t like it’ is not the most helpful or effective advice. Of course, you would want to know why this person didn’t like it. Was it the quality of the food, service, portion size, temperature, or atmosphere? If the person says they didn’t like the decor, well, that might be a personal preference that is valid but it isn’t a criterion that necessarily carries weight with regard to the food or service the new restaurant provides. In other words, you want a detailed judgment or evaluation based on specific criteria, criteria that is universally meaningful to most patrons.
Evaluation can occur with many types of mediums, making it a popular mode for both informal and formal writing. The things that can be evaluated include: books, chapters, articles, films, TV shows, music, restaurants, products, speeches, poetry, plays, commercials, advertisements, and even procedures, just to name a few.
Evaluative writing generally exhibits the following:
- Puts the writer in the position as expert or trusted evaluator
- Makes a judgment about something using facts and evidence rather than feelings
- Uses specific criteria that are relevant, common, or somewhat universal
- Organizes the analysis based on specified criteria; avoids irrelevant, unnecessary, or unhelpful criteria
- Avoids being overly biased; executes evaluation with some balance
Essay Types within this Chapter