In-Class Evidence Critique

Created for ENWR 110


This exercise is intended to help students review the role and the characteristics of good evidence.  The first two sentences for critique represent the most common mistakes my ENWR 110 students had been making with evidence.


In-Class Evidence Critique

Determine whether each of the following counts as evidence for an academic argument.  If it does count as evidence, determine whether or not it is sufficient to support the subclaim.  If it is insufficient to support the subclaim, describe what type of evidence the writer should look for to sufficiently support the subclaim.

Subclaim: Binge drinking is a major problem on college campuses.

1. Drinking has always been a part of college life, and students who drink too much might suffer consequences including health problems, bad grades, and interpersonal problems.  Also, sexual misconduct is usually higher at student gatherings that include heavy drinking.




2. In my dorm this year, there have been two cases of students who had to leave school after excessive drinking caused them to carry failing averages in most of their classes.





3. When Jim Shay, president of Omega Alpha, accepted a dare from his fraternity brothers to down a pint of whiskey in one long swallow, he didn’t plan to become this year’s eighth college fatality from alcohol poisoning (Jenkins 1:8A).





4. A 2002 study found that at most colleges, one out of three students “binged” at least once in the previous thirty days, drinking more than five drinks at a sitting (Peabody 43).




Answer Key:

1. These are reasons, not evidence. 

2. This is anecdotal evidence.  It is not representative of a good sample size, so it needs to be supplemented with representative evidence to support the reason.

3. This is evidence.  It could be strengthened if it were supplemented with more representative evidence.

4. This evidence supports the reason well.  It could be strengthened if the author made it more precise by replacing "most colleges" with the specific number of colleges.