The skill of writing decent evaluations often evades students within their essay writing. It is a skill that can easily be taught, but it is their ability to discuss the validity of an issue well that takes time. As we know it cannot just be an opinion, but an argument that is fully supported by a stimulus, be that Economics or Business.
I tell my students early at AS Level that you cannot simply memorise judgements, but must use the stimulus material or understanding of the key issue to form a judgement that is both focused, logical and doesn’t simply sit on the fence. They must take a stance. If the argument is well supported then the student will do well.
One way that I have always found effective is to deliver a case study with an essay question that requires evaluative higher order thinking skills in the following way:
- Prior to the lesson prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation. These will represent 20 images directly or indirectly related to the case delivered in 20 seconds for each slide. This is something I have only just started experimenting with, but you would be surprised how well it works. See here: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/what. The idea is to quickly focus their attention on the stimulus and discuss the theory once again at a quick pace. Remember no longer than 20 seconds for each slide.
- Provide the students with the stimulus/case study after the presentation.
- On their own they are given a short period of time to read the material. I will then ask for the following:a)Command word/Definition to introduce essay. (2 minutes)
b)10 points that they think are worth considering in simple note format. (5 minutes)
c)Then in pairs they are to compare these points and decide on only those issues that they feel most relate to the stimulus/question. (5 minutes)
d)They then return to working on their own to flesh out these points into four paragraphs that highlight understanding of the point, illustrated with examples, use of graphs, applied well to the case.
e)Next, I will ask students to exchange their paragraphs with their partner one more time. Their partner must then explore their arguments critically, making notes around their work in terms of cause and effect. Allow students to then feedback with each other. This allows for wider implications and evaluation that may possibly have passed them by. Allow for a period of discussion.
f)Finally, they themselves decide what they would like to include in a concise and focused essay.
g)I will normally end by having a discussion with the whole class as to how they might like to conclude their essay. Refer back, express judgement, express argument and make a decision.
In Economics I have always liked the WEE STEPS. Pushing evaluation within their writing through the consideration of Wider context, Efficiency, Equality, Scope, Time, Effectiveness, Prioritisation and Scale. These can be seen within an excellent resource provided by tutor2u.com, using inflation as a perspective:
Business and Economics Department, Trinity Catholic High School