In the Dockterman example above, the author clearly lays out data (Civilization leads to improvements in history class), a claim (this is because of engagement with the game and thus the subject material), provides data that back up that claim (retention rate skyrockets when students do things for themselves), and links that smaller claim to a larger concept (actively browsing pages on a computer or tablet is way more brain-stimulating than vegging out in front of the TV). This clear pattern of data-explanation-more data-more explanation enables the reader to follow along with Dockterman's points. It's more persuasive because, rather than just being told "Civilization leads to improvements in history" and having to take it on faith, the reader is forced to reenact the thinking processes that led to the argument, engaging with the topic on a deeper level.
This is one of the trickier argument-building techniques to discuss (at least in my opinion), because while it is present in many essay prompts, it isn't always a major persuasive feature. You can pretty easily identify an author's explanation of evidence if the author connects claims to support and explains it, rather than just throwing out evidence without much ceremony or linking to the claim; however, whether or not the explanation of the evidence is a major contributing factor to the author's argument is somewhat subjective. Here's a pretty clear instance of a case where an author uses explanations of each piece of evidence she discusses to logically advance her argument (again from the Dockterman passage):
This final category of examples is the top layer of argument building. The foundation of a good argument is evidence, which is often explained and elucidated by reasoning, but it is often the addition of stylistic or persuasive elements like an ironic tone or a rhetorical flourish that seals the deal.
You present a persuasive argument for the abandonment of the 5-paragraph essay and suggest a new format for presenting an argument... However, you did not provide much information on what is expected to go in between your introduction and conclusion? You suggested this format opens the essay to compare/contrast, cause/effect, analysis, etc... but how do you suggest students structure an essay with these approaches in practice? Any piece of writing needs some structure and main ideas that are then supported with various pieces of evidence (whether you are writing a historical thesis or a persuasive essay)... If you are abandoning a "main idea followed by supporting evidence" format, what do you propose should take its place? Or perhaps my understanding of the 5-paragraph essay you are speaking of is incorrect?
Viewbank Tennis Club - Persuasive Argument Essays
There seems to be a fundamental flaw to the argument. The blogger writes, "The problem is this format doesn't encourage thoughtful persuasion. It promotes low-level summary that nobody really cares about."
Seriously? It's WHO encourages thoughtful persuasion...not WHAT...
Example Argument/Persuasion Essay: Example #1
The Five Canons of Rhetoric serve as a guide to creating persuasive messages and arguments. These are (the process of developing arguments); (determining how to present the arguments); (organizing the arguments for extreme effect); (the gestures, pronunciation, tone and pace used when presenting the persuasive arguments); and (the process of learning and memorizing the speech and persuasive messages.)
Law school turned my writing upside down. I could no longer write simple, five paragraph persuasive essays. Not all legal writing is designed to be persuasive. However, every single brief, motion and petition needs to be beyond persuasive. In fact, it needs to be utterly free of a reasonable counter-argument.
Example Essay #5 Using Quotes, Argument/Persuasion “Milk”
A second strategy to introduce argumentative writing is to reveal two essays on the same topic--one that's written persuasively and one that's written argumentatively. Before writing arguments with two sides represented, they have to be able to identify them in anchor papers. Charge students to read both essays and highlight every sentence as either a claim helping the writer's argument (highlight those sentences in yellow) or a valid counterclaim from the opposition (highlight those sentences in pink). Students will quickly see that argumentative writing is more balanced and offers facts on both sides, whereas persuasive is all me and what I want. (Access two essays on Animal Testing--the and the .) Studying a persuasive and argumentative piece on the same topic helps students see the subtle, but significant differences between them.