Evaluating

with clear criteria

I love this movie, I like your coat, small dogs are the best, this class is taking too much time, the weather..

Too pitchy, hybrid cars are too expensive, that game is overrated, the new JK Rowlings novel is slow-moving…

Judgments, we make them all the time

What makes a really bad day

Bad?

With formal evaluations, judgments must be based upon

A set of criteria that makes sense to the intended audience Don’t evaluate
◦ the graphics card for non-gamer laptop shoppers ◦ meat entrees for vegetarians ◦ conurbation for a small desert town shopping for wind turbines

What to evaluate?
Some categories (see examples in essay guidelines):

A product or process  A creation or event  A past or potential course of action  A location  A service or institution  A trend, up or down (1-2 bonus pts)

But for whom? The answer to that guides choice of criteria

Should I go for the PhD? Evaluating a course of action for…
An EMAC major  A Physics major  A Mechanical Engineering major  A high school student  A mid-career manager  Someone with high debt

The criteria must fit the audience.

Audience questions and needs
ME Major  What are the research prospects?  Is the curriculum as intense as undergrad?  Will I be doing hands-on work?  How much control will I have?  Affect on job prospects?  What do grad students earn?  Can I earn more with an MS, in industry?  How much debt will I accrue?  What are likely salary ranges?

Needs shape criteria

Satisfaction with the work
◦ What are the research prospects? ◦ Will I be doing hands-on work? ◦ How much control will I have?

Compensation
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ What do grad students earn? Can I earn more with an MS, in industry? How much debt will I accrue? What are likely salary ranges?

Sources support criteria

“You can’t get into industrial research without a PhD, even in specialized companies. I know there’s always exceptions and maybe with 10 years of experience, you’ll get there. However, that door will most likely be shut to you if you don’t have a higher degree.” --from a professor of Mechanical Engineering and
Optics blogging at Engineer Blogs

Criteria (criterion, singular)
from the Greek krinein—to judge, decide

“A standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based.”  Their vacations had to be in scenic places  She loved “The Help” because of the humor, the mother-daughter dynamic, and the attempt to deal with social issues.  He wanted friends who loved Ultimate as much as he did and were loyal.

Criteria should be logically parallel
What makes a car a good buy? Good gas mileage High safety rating Comfortable interior Has a 5th gear

What makes a perfect day perfect? Good weather Free time with friends No major stressors A piece of tiramisu Interesting work

Which one’s off?

What makes a war just? In the Indian epic the Mahabharata, the first “just war”
Proportionality: no chariots attacking cavalry  Just means: no poisoned or barbed arrows  Just cause: no rage-based attacking  Fair treatment of the wounded & captured

In the European tradition (via Cicero, Augustine & Thomas Aquinas)

 

Proportionality of attack: the damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, & certain Proportionality of response: the use of arms must not produce evils graver than the evil to be eliminated. Other means exhausted: shown to be impractical or ineffective Success: reasonable chance of

Try it
Consider a drastic action with serious consequences that you or a group you belong to might undertake.

What criteria would have to be met for you to act?

Criteria labels should be grammatically parallel
Evaluating websites – 8 criteria
       

Purpose Authority Objectivity Appropriateness Currency Responsibility Clarity Accessibility
from http://www.lesley.edu/library/guides/ research/evaluating_web.html

Make categories distinct
What constitutes an excellent film?

Plot plausible, acting decent, camera work unconventional, no unbelievable coincidences
Which two overlap?

with an appropriate, & meaningful scope
Great day?

Too specific: 72 degrees, time with friend x, a piece of tiramisu, I got to work at the forge Too general: Comfortable, fun, stimulating…

& comprehensive
Absolute height of building  Height of building above  General heights of surrounding buildings  Orientation of building relative to more dominant wind directions  Shape of building

From Evaluating Wind Resources at http://www.quietrevolution.com/.

& fitted to the audience

Good day again…

◦ Good weather, time with friends, no stressors, a treat , interesting work
Or is it . . . ◦ Light traffic, time to workout, calm dinner with family, profitable work

◦ Bus on time, sobriety, helped someone, kept commitments, any work

Criteria in a film review

Review of "District 9"

Test drive the criteria

Use spill.com’s criteria to evaluate a film you’ve seen recently. Audience is a friend.

Do the criteria work? Revise as needed
Would those criteria be useful for
◦ A grandparent of yours? ◦ A young child you know?

Sources of Criteria
 

The evaluator’s needs and values
◦ All life is sacred / survival of the fittest

A moral or legal code
◦ Thou shalt not kill / death penalty


The goals or needs of an association
◦ Bring up our GPA / win more intramurals

The shared assumptions and practices (culture) of a group
◦ Work hard, play hard / moderation

By choosing criteria, you take a position:
 What should a great vacation be about?

By evaluating based on those criteria, you make an argument for certain values:
 grow and learn all the time  work hard play hard  serve your neighbors  family is sacred

Criteria
“Internet Encyclodpedias Go Head to Head” What are the criteria?  Which criteria is somewhat surprising?  Where/how do sources support the criteria?  Is there an implied argument in the choice of criteria?

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