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Directions: Read the following excerpts from the sample research papers. For each paragraph determine if the types of proofs used to support the claim are valid. Signify any problems within the argument below. See Wood pages 307-312 for ideas and questions on how to evaluate each type of proof.

Note: These examples follow the MLA documentation style. The author of this document required paragraph numbers for most internet sources; thus, you will notice the use of “par.” for many parenthetical references.

SAMPLE ONE:

CLAIM: Violence on television should be censored because violence on television causes children to become overly aggressive.

There are many facets to discovering how television causes children to become aggressive. Gerald May suggests that “children who watch violent TV shows exhibit more aggression, especially right after the show” (par. 4). He cites the work of Albert Bandura who did the first landmark study of violent television and children. Bandura found that watching images of adults engaged in violent behavior caused a greater aggressiveness on the part of the children afterward (par. 5-6). Children witness a lot of violence starting at a very young age. In fact, by the time a child graduates from elementary school, he or she will have witnessed 8,000 killings on television (Graper 9). In addition, according to Canfield and Norton, “Young viewers are more likely to attend violent programs than older viewers” (56). With all the violence there is on television, it is no mystery why children have become so violent today.

Has the author made a valid argument that television causes violence? Explain.

When it comes to violence, there are differences between boys and girls. Resnick states that male children are far more likely to become involved in watching violent television than are female children (34). He goes on to say that the average boy watches 5.5 hours of violent television programming per week while girls watch an average of 2.6 hours of such programming per week (36). This is a reason why boys are so much more violent and aggressive than girls. Montague reports that aggressive boys tend to be heavy television watchers (116). Therefore, violence on television affects boys more than it effects girls.

Has the author made a valid argument by showing signs that violent television affects boys more than girls? Explain.

SAMPLE TWO:

CLAIM: Standardized tests should be less emphasized in public schools because it puts too much unnecessary stress on both teachers and students.

Teachers are definitely stressed when it comes to high-stakes testing. Green observes: “I counsel teachers all the time who are discouraged and burnt-out from the emphasis on standardized tests. They feel they must spend a great deal of time teaching to the test just to keep their jobs.” (45). Teacher Jackie Taggert says, “Teaching is already a stressful profession, but when you add the pressure of high-stakes testing, the level of stress nears the breaking point for many of us” (98). Moore reports that the period between 1993 and 2003 saw the greatest flight from the teaching profession ever noted. He says that ex-teachers rank “high job-related stress” as a predominant factor in their decision to leave teaching (31). The stress of preparing students for standardized tests is very great and is undoubtedly causing many teachers to resign.

Is this argument a valid induction for teachers being stressed out by tests? Explain.

In addition to undue stress upon the teachers, high-stakes testing also takes a toll upon the students. Martha Williams, a mother of three in Grand Rapids, Michigan, comments: “Two of my three children have had to struggle through standardized testing. They become noticeably nervous around test time. One even experienced a stomach illness the day of the test” (qtd. in Roberts 64). Echoing Williams’ comments, one teacher notes, “It’s not unusual for several students in my class to become sick around the day of the test. The illnesses definitely appear to be stress-related” (qtd. in Roberts 66). The stress of high-stakes testing is such that many students develop health issues.

Many experts agree that the pressure of high-stakes testing is too much for many students. Education expert Max Duncan believes that the stress of high-stakes tests is significant: “These tests, especially for children in junior high or middle school, create a pressure-cooker situation for these young people. They are simply too young to handle the pressure of a single test that determines whether they move to the next grade or not” (par. 22). Reynolds agrees to believe that childhood already has so many stresses already. He says that the problems of family and relationships create a lot of stress for grade-schoolers, and families should work to reduce the pressures placed upon young people whenever possible (141). Removing the pressure of standardized testing would be a step forward in helping students to live less pressured lives.

Is this argument showing a valid cause/effect relationship between standardized testing and stress in students? Explain.

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