GRE Argument Essay 36

The following appeared as part of a recommendation made by a faculty member to the president of a large university.

“Never once in our 150-year history as a university have we clarified our objectives. How, then, can we hope to adapt as an institution to the new challenges facing higher education. As a first step in this evolutionary process, therefore, we should send out questionnaires asking faculty members why they teach, asking students what they want from this university, and asking former students what they gained from their own education here. When the replies come in, we can tabulate them and formulate an official statement of our educational mission. This will surely result in improved programs at our university.”

A faculty member makes the recommendation, to the president of a university, that the official statement of their educational mission can be tabulated by sending out questionnaires to the faculty members, present students and former students of the university. The arguer asserts that this plan of action will result in improving the programs at the university. The reason for carrying out this procedure for outlining the university’s educational mission has been cited by the arguer as the fact that the university’s objectives have never been clarified in the 150-year long history of the university. A careful study of the recommendation along with the accompanying evidence shows that the evidence is weak and it fails to support the recommendation made by the faculty member.

Firstly, the argument starts at a highly unconvincing note. How can a university that is 150 years old have objectives that have not been clarified even once in its history? The fact that this argument has been put forth by a single faculty member makes the claim further dubious. It is likely that the faculty member has not carried out an in-depth research into the history of the university. This statement would have sounded convincing if it had been the result of a study carried out by more than one faculty member. The objectives of the university would have been clearly defined when the university was established. However, it is likely that with the passage of time the objectives had to be clarified time and again in order to keep in step with the changing times. Additionally, the argument classifies the university as a large university. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the objectives have never been clarified even once in the 150-year old history of the university.

Even if we consider the opening statement made by the arguer to be true and the objectives have never been clarified in the last 150 year’, the procedure outlined by the argument for arriving at the university’s educational mission is highly questionable. How can a questionnaire be termed as a reliable source of gathering information for working out the official statement of the educational mission of a large university? It is quite likely that the faculty members and the students filling out the questionnaires take them lightly and they just fill in whatever comes to their mind without spending time to ponder over the questions asked.

Faculty members may not be able to give a reasonable or correct answer to the question about why they teach. Similarly, a student who has just joined the university may not be in a position to clearly outline what he expects from the university. Students who have already passed out from the university will probably be busy in their jobs and they will not have the time to contemplate on the answer to the question as to what they have gained from their education in the university. The argument does not specify the method that will be used by the authorities to separate the seriously answered questionnaires from the ones which have been left half-answered or which have been filled up carelessly. In view of the above, it is obvious that this method for gathering information for outlining the educational mission for a large university is totally unsound and full of logical flaws.

The given argument could have sounded convincing and well-reasoned if it had been put forth after a study done by a team of researchers. Additionally, the arguer could have explored other avenues like holding discussions with students and faculty members to work out the educational mission of the university. This would have strengthened the argument further. In the absence of crucial evidence, the given argument fails to validate the claim made therein.