Case Review: Negative Argument Construction

Case Review is looking at cases I have been sent under the March 2014 Resolved: Single-gender classrooms would improve the quality of education in American public schools.

Any tips provided can be applied to every resolution and also should help with the topic at hand.

Remember, evidence must be clear, concise, an with full citation.

Let’s look at an excerpt:

“Furthermore a meta-analysis from the American Psychological Association analyzed highly controlled studies relating to single sex education in the United States.  The consensus of the research was that there are no academic or social improvements for students in single gender classrooms.”

Woah. There is a lot of confusing language here. Try reading that first sentence five times fast. Clarity is needed, as well as some more specific evidence. Rather than summarize the study in one sentence, if this evidence is so strong, I would actually quote the research. You may summarize the general findings, but providing some concrete details to what the actual study said would me much more persuasive. 

You must come back to the resolution at end of each point you write. 

Here is a concluding impact for a point regarding gender segregation.

“For the educational value of this debate we must evaluate single gender classrooms on a realistic sense where the real world consequences of implementation are accounted for.”

Again, what is this sentence even saying? A lot of clauses are linked together and end on a preposition (a no no!). This sentence introduces how we should consider how single-gender classrooms will be implemented, but this is hidden behind unclear language. We also are not linked back to the key phrase of the resolution, “improve the quality of education”, leaving us with an unconnected impact statement. In each of your arguments your impact should clearly articulate how the impact affects the question of the resolution.

Here is a possible rewrite:

To implement single-gender classrooms, schools will be affected in both budget and day-to-day functioning. These consequences, when take holistically, take away from the overall quality of education. If schools had unlimited budgets, single-gender classrooms may work. But in a world where teachers and administrators are scraping together funds, the additional cost of single-gender classrooms will rob the already starving student population of our public schools. 

I added a little literary flourish with the “scraping” and “starving”, but this is to add a stronger picture for the judge to consider. The most important thing is that the impact now pulls back to the resolution and the larger question being asked by the resolution, not just the question presented by the argument. 

Every case ends with a wrap up sentence, and because it is the last thought it should be a good one!

The wrap up sentence should briefly mention the impacts you have outlined in your case. Do not end with the impact of your last point. Do not end with any major rhetorical flourishes. Simply reiterate the most important things – your impacts – and if you have presented a framework, make sure you connect your impacts back to that. If the key words of the resolution are not in this last sentence, you need to rewrite it immediately. 

Again, these tips apply to every case, not just the Negative on the March 2014 topic. 

Best of luck writing and rewriting!



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