Academic Evaluations

Brainstorming Possible Judgments

Once you have chosen a topic, you might begin your evaluation by thinking about what you already know about the topic. In doing this, you will be coming up with possible judgments to include in your evaluation. Begin with a tentative overall judgment or claim. Then decide what supporting judgments you might make to back that claim. Keep in mind that your judgments will likely change as you collect evidence for your evaluation.

Determining a Tentative Overall Judgment

Start by making an overall judgment on the topic in question, based on what you already know. For instance, if you were writing an evaluation of sustainable management practices in forestry, your tentative overall judgment might be: "Sustainable management is a viable way of dealing with deforestation in old growth forests."

Brainstorming Possible Supporting Judgments

With a tentative overall judgment in mind, you can begin to brainstorm judgments (or reasons) that could support your overall judgment by asking the question, "Why?" For example, asking "Why?" of the tentative overall judgment "Sustainable management is a viable way of dealing with deforestation in old growth forests" might yield the following supporting judgments:

Anticipating Changes to Your Judgments After Collecting Evidence

When brainstorming possible judgments this early in the writing process, it is necessary to keep an open mind as you enter into the stage in which you collect evidence. Once you have done observations, analysis, or research, you might find that you are unable to advance your tentative overall judgment. Or you might find that some of the supporting judgments you came up with are not true or are not supportable. Your findings might also point you toward other judgments you can make in addition to the ones you are already making.

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