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Feedback & suggestions appreciated! AWA first attempt.

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Feedback & suggestions appreciated! AWA first attempt. [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2011, 12:50
This is my first attempt to two AWA essays - both are timed (30mins each). Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you all. :-D


ANALYSIS OF AN ARGUMENT:
The following appeared in an article in a medical journal:
"The major increase in new cases of adult-onset diabetes during the past decade is the result of poor nutrition, which is itself the result of a lack of government control over the quality of foods available at low prices. If the government placed more emphasis on proper nutrition by requiring that food manufacturers include more vitamins and minerals in their products, the rate of adult-onset diabetes would be reduced significantly."

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. Point out flaws in the argument's logic and analyze the argument's underlying assumptions. In addition, evaluate how supporting evidence is used and what evidence might counter the argument's conclusion. You may also discuss what additional evidence could be used to strengthen the argument or what changes would make the argument more logically sound.


MY RESPONSE:
The argument presents the issue of adult-onset diabetes that the number of new cases has increased in the past ten years. The author explores the potential cause of this major increase, attributing it to poor nutrition, which results from lack of government control over the quality of foods available at low prices. the author then draws the conclusion that government should mandate that food manufacturers include more Vitamins and minerals in their product, as a method of placing emphasis on the proper quality of foods and nutrition. In this way, the rate of adult-onset diabetes can be reduced significantly. This argument, despite its good intention, has the following several flaws that makes it vague and unconvincing.

First of all, the author readily assumes that adding more Vitamins and minerals into food products will decrease the rate of adult-onset diabetes. This assumption requires more discussion of the relationship between nutrition such as vitamins and minerals, and the risk of adult-onset diabetes. Does small number of vitamins and minerals lead to adult-onset diabetes? Not necessarily. And the author does not spend time on this information. Therefore, one could not conclude that more vitamins and minerals will decrease the risk of having adult-onset diabetes. Moreover, by simply stating "include more vitamins and minerals", the author does not quantify the specific amount of nutrition, and thus fails to consider the possibility of nutrition "over intake", which cause even result in negative effect on one's health condition. This negative effect obviously is not the intended effect of this mandate.

Second, the author also claims that by rate of adult-onset diabetes would be reduced significantly by means of government control over quality of foods. This claim fails to consider other possible causes of adult-onset diabetes such as genetic reasons and people's health awareness and knowledge of diabetes. Without exploring the information of the various causes of adult-onset diabetes, and what percentage of the disease is a result of poor nutrition, there is not way to predict the effectiveness of this government mandate, making the policy a wishful thinking.

Perhaps the most important flaw in this argument is that the author seemingly contradicts him/herself when it comes to the intention of this policy: the author claims that quality of foods available at low price needs to be controlled by the government. However, mandating additional nutrition would more likely than not to increase the costs of food products. This increase in costs is likely to lead to increase in prices. How would this increase in prices allow the more availability of foods at "low prices"? More information is certainly needed on this subject in order to evaluate the effectiveness of this policy.

In conclusion, this argument is unsubstantiated for a number of reasons. More concisely, without discussing the relationship between nutrition (specifically, vitamins and minerals) and adult-onset diabetes, and how this mandate might actually increase the prices of foods, the author's suggestion on government policy would not reach its goal.
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Re: Feedback & suggestions appreciated! AWA first attempt. [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2011, 12:53
And for Analysis of an issue (the conclusion is inadequate because I ran out of time at the end...)


ANALYSIS OF AN ISSUE:
“Despite the convenience of distance learning and online educational programs, they will never replace in-class instruction.”

Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the position stated above. Support your viewpoint using reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

MY RESPONSE:
Technological advancement has revolutionize various aspects of human experience, ranging from business, arts to research and education. In recent years, online education and distance learning mushroom as alternative methods for students to accelerate their studies and earn certain degrees. One cannot help but question whether this education delivery method would one day replace the traditional in-class learning experience. This statement answers this question affirmatively that in-class instruction is irreplaceable. I agree with this statement for the following reasons.

First, one of the biggest differences between online education and in-class instruction is the teachers' role. Although never pursuing an online degree myself, I have experienced all types of distance learning such as webinars and online presentations. During webinars, I look at the computer screen, and listen to whatever the instructor is saying, most of the times without seeing his or her face. There might or might not be voice Q&A at the end - more often than not, Q&A sessions are conducted during the webinars, when students/participants type in their questions in a question box, and wait for the facilitators to reply in text. During in-class instruction, teachers deliver information and answer questions more spontaneously, in a sense that the instruction requires teachers' flexibility in interacting face-to-face with students, and their skills to master the arts of teaching in order to improve students' learning effectiveness. This crucial in-person face-to-face interaction, combined with teachers' teaching styles (the "arts" of teaching), improves students' learning efficiency, something online education would not be able to deliver on the same level. One similar case is comparing conference calls with in-person meeting. Most professionals believe no matter how convenient it is to conduct conference meetings, it is always paramount to conduct in person meetings to deliver important messages or "seal the deal", simply because human connection requires that face-to-face interaction.

Second, in-class instruction usually includes other students sitting in the same classroom and learning about the same information. The existence of other students or peers is critical for one's learning experience. On one hand, students work together in teams and exchange ideas. This group interaction improves students' ability to work well with others, negotiate and resolve disagreement, skills that might not be achieved through online education programs in which most students study alone in front of a computer screen. On the other hand, peers also compete with and motivate one another to study hard. This competition and motivational effect is the building block of establishing relationships with others. Online education or distance learning, however, is less likely to emphasize on developing these characteristics.

An example of the advantage of in-class instruction over online educational programs is the observation that many online educational programs attempt to mimic closely the delivery method of in-class instruction by hiring actual teachers as "online instructors". Students can see their faces and hear them talking at the same time. These educational programs include Khan Education programs and the language learning software Rosetta Stone. There is no doubt that these programs also believe in the effectiveness of in-class instruction and face-to-face interaction between teachers and students.

In conclusion, I agree with the statement.
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Re: Feedback & suggestions appreciated! AWA first attempt. [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2012, 20:26
I found your argument to be the better of the two. I am no expert but I'd give them both a 4. Maybe 4.5 for the argument. The examples are well presented and relevant, but you ask too many rhetorical questions and that threw me off for a bit.
Re: Feedback & suggestions appreciated! AWA first attempt.   [#permalink] 02 Jan 2012, 20:26
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