The following appeared in a memo from the director of student housing at Buckingham College.
"To serve the housing needs of our students, Buckingham College should build a number of new dormitories. Buckingham's enrollment is growing and, based on current trends, will double over the next 50 years, thus making existing dormitory space inadequate. Moreover, the average rent for an apartment in our town has risen in recent years. Consequently, students will find it increasingly difficult to afford off-campus housing. Finally, attractive new dormitories would make prospective students more likely to enroll at Buckingham."
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
The argument put forward by the director of housing at Buckingham College recommends that the college must build a number of new dormitories in order to meet student needs like more space, affordable cost and attractive features. This argument seems plausible at the first sight. On careful analysis, however, it is found to be rife with holes and assumptions. The evidence needed to evaluate this argument must be effectively analyzed before further proceedings are carried out.
Firstly, the director vaguely mentions that a 'number' of new dormitories need to be built to serve the housing needs of students. The intended number must be clearly specified. Moreover, the housing needs of students can range from basic water supply to sophisticated features like air-conditioning facility etc... Hence, the housing needs actually demanded by the students must be mentioned to get a clear idea. Above all, the author commits a further fallacy in data interpretation by affirming blindly that the same increasing trend of enrollment will double over the next 50 years. It has to be validated by ensuring whether the same kind of standards followed in the college are feasible to be maintained after 50 years and how they will improve so as to cause increase in enrollment. Moreover, whether most of the students will continue to opt to stay in dorms after 50 years is not known for sure. Hence, insufficiency of data casts doubt on the argument.
Secondly, the director mentions that the average rent for an apartment in that area has increased recently. Hence he comes to an hasty conclusion that students will find it difficult to opt for off-campus housing. However, the case of whether the apartment quoted by the author is the only one found in that area has to be substantiated. If there are other apartments where the rent amount is considerable, then the author's claim would go invalid. Additionally, the director assumes that the students opting to join Buckingham College will not be able to pay higher rent amount. He clearly undermines the fact that if the students are affluent-enough, then the rent amount, however high, might not be a problem. The economic standing of the students joining the college and existence of other apartments, if any, in the locality must be clearly explained by the author in order to strengthen his claim.
Thirdly, the author seems to correlate attractive dormitories with higher enrollment. In spite of the dormitories being attractive, there are a number of factors which could account for higher enrollment: quality of teaching, the pass-percentage of students, the status of the alumnae of the college, infrastructure available in the laboratories etc... The author has to validate that attractive dormitories matter more to students than all other factors. If the case is that attractive features are immaterial to prospective students, then the author's claim will turn out to be false.
Thus, the argument needs several evidence to substantiate the director's claim: numerical details regarding the number of required dormitories and space to accommodate them; the list of demanded housing needs of the students; reason and substantiation for the enrollment trend to double after 50 years of time; increasing rent rates being cause of a concern to prospective students; relevance of attractive dormitory features to the increased enrollment. Only if these evidence are provided can the reader understand the advantages claimed in the proposal. Until then, this argument will remain to be fallacious and not suitable for implementation.
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argument 1 -- not OK
argument 2 -- OK
argument 3 -- OK
Attribute Value Ideal
Score: 4.5 out of 6
Category: Good Excellent
No. of Grammatical Errors: 0 2
No. of Spelling Errors: 0 2
No. of Sentences: 24 15
No. of Words: 574 350
No. of Characters: 2946 1500
No. of Different Words: 255 200
Fourth Root of Number of Words: 4.895 4.7
Average Word Length: 5.132 4.6
Word Length SD: 2.915 2.4
No. of Words greater than 5 chars: 211 100
No. of Words greater than 6 chars: 183 80
No. of Words greater than 7 chars: 135 40
No. of Words greater than 8 chars: 75 20
Use of Passive Voice (%): 0 0
Avg. Sentence Length: 23.917 21.0
Sentence Length SD: 14.192 7.5
Use of Discourse Markers (%): 0.792 0.12
Sentence-Text Coherence: 0.291 0.35
Sentence-Para Coherence: 0.486 0.50
Sentence-Sentence Coherence: 0.093 0.07
Number of Paragraphs: 5 5