Rhetorical Analysis

Ineffective Use of Evidence

The popular article called “Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t” by Maryellen Weimer introduced the consequences of when student multitasks in learning environments by using the academic journal, “The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students” by Yvonne Ellis, Bobbie Daniels, and Andres Jauregui as her supporting evidence. This academic journal effectively showed that our brain cannot perform multiple tasks at the same time. When student think they are multitasking, they are actually switching between tasks which hinders the ability for them to retain informations between actions. While both articles contained the same purpose, which is to show that student should not multitask when studying, Weimer did a poor job of representing the evidence experimented in the academic research paper because she left out important information, wrote in a bias article in a biased diction, and did not cite the researches correctly.

The two types of article, academic research and popular article, are very different from each other such as the representation of context information, organization, and the use of language. If the author of a popular article, Maryellen Weimer, uses most the result informations collected from the researches effectively, it could strengthen her persuasive argument drastically compared to the limited information provided for the audience in her article

The article by Maryellen Weimer proved to be very ineffective because she showed limited information of the researches to support her argument. Weiner’s purpose was to persuade the audience to stop student from multitasking in a learning environment. She had many different researches to back up her argument to why multitasking is bad; however, Weimer only provided the basic informations on each of the researches in her popular article. For example, Weimer used the academic research article by Ellis, Daniels, and Jauregui and to which her only content of the research was that student who text in class received a lower grade compared to those who don’t text in class. It is good that Weimer used example from the academic research paper to support her idea, however, she only uses one component of the research and leave out many important information of the research. For example, Weimer’s purpose was to show that student will a receives lower grade if they multitask in class, however, she summarized the research and left out reasons to why multitasking caused the grade to drop, which was included in the background section of the research. By leaving out important informations of the research, Weimer created a gap between the knowledge of what the writer knows and what the audience knows. This type of confusion could weaken her argument and make her idea questionable.

The research conducted by Yvonne Ellis, Bobbie Daniels, and Andres Jauregui went further beyond the aspect of texting in class and examine the consequences of based on gender, ethnicity, and age group that could have affected student’s learning curve. In addition, the academic research article was very informative as they introduced a background to the issues and further analyze the consequences of multitasking when leaning. For example, they explained that student who texts in class and receive a lower grade is because “switching between tasks costs more time because information is being processed at a much slower rate” and that it “reduce the amount of declarative learning1 about a task, which reduces the brain’s ability to retrieve information”. Ellis and her colleagues also provided statistical data gathered in the experiment such as the participant’s GPA statistic which then supported the idea that multitasking in lecture could lower student’s GPA. By showing further background, analysis, and statistical evidence in the academic research paper, it builds up the creditability for the author’s. In comparison to the popular science article, this abundant amount of evidence and diverse variables strengthened the researchers’ argument

Not only did Weiner have limited information of Ellis, Daniels, and Jauregui’s research to support her argument, but her article was written in an inaccurate diction toward her audience. Popular articles are usually written toward a general audience, those who does not have a college degree of the topic, or sometimes a specific and narrowed audience while academic research articles are mostly written for professionals, graduate students, and even for college professors. Weimer’s article however, is written for teacher in the section of “Higher Ed Teaching Strategies” blog. Therefore, her attitude toward student who multitasks should be emotional appeal for other teachers by giving suggestion to how they could prevent students from multitasking in class. One way to do that is to inform other teaching professional examples from the academic research paper and how they could educate their students not to multitask. Her word choice should then be more neutral when giving logical advice, from the academic research paper, to other teaching profession. However, Weimer used a simpler, direct, and sometime demeaning word toward students. For example, she claims that “students are way too convinced that multitasking is a great way to work” which exaggerate student conviction of multitasking by using to the word “too”. When writing to other teaching profession such as herself or people who wants to learn about the consequences of multitasking, she should avoid using emotional biases and focused on the main argument of the paper. Otherwise, it will cause the reader to think the example used in the academic research paper by Ellis, written in neutral tone for other professionals, is biased.

Beside Weimer ineffective uses of language to persuade and presenting her idea to her audience, her method of presenting the research was ineffective due to the lack of citation and unorganized structure. Weimer listed her example of researches in bullet points and a few summary sentences to show the main idea of the research. This is ineffective because she misrepresent the research by not giving it a background to research and how it is being used to support her argument. Even though it is a popular article, she should cite the research by Ellis, Daniels, and Jauregui by having a reference page to show the reliability of the source and that information represented in the research are accurate.

The content of both articles are very similar to each other as it demonstrated the negative effects of multitasking in a learning environment. The popular article called “Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t” by Weimer Maryellen however, misrepresent the academic research article by Yvonne Ellis, Bobbie Daniels, and Andres Jauregui because she only represent the basic information of the research which undermine the effectiveness of her argument. She introduced the idea of the research; however, she did not give reason or connect her example toward her argument which weakened her article. If Weiner have given example from the research such that focusing on a task could enhance the ability of study and retaining information, her article could have been a lot more persuasive. Her biased diction toward a professional audience caused the reader to question her uses of example and undermining the academic research. Not only that, her method of representing the research without a background and citation causes the reader to think whether the article is reliable or not. Weimer’s article have good potential to be very persuasive, however, her method were ineffectively which causes the researches by Yvonne Ellis, Bobbie Daniels, and Andres Jauregui to be incompetent.



Ellis. Yvonne, Daniels. Bobbie, Jauregui. Andres (No Date). The effect of multitasking on the grade performance of business students. Research in Higher Educational Journal. http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10498.pdf

Weimer. Maryellen (2012, September). Students Think They Can Multitask. Here’s Proof They Can’t. Faculty Focus. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/multitasking-confronting-students-with-the-facts/


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