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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

2021-07-27 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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The increasing popularity of online education and its competition with traditional classroom education has been a popular topic in recent years. In the article “The Risks and Rewards of Online Learning” by Chris Bustamante, the author discusses the main features, benefits, and challenges through the case of Rio Salado College. This article was published in the online newspaper Community College Times in 2011. It’s target audience include students, parents, and adults who are interested in the online learning opportunities. Throughout the article, use of rhetorical strategies, statistics, references have addressed the needs and answered the doubts of the readers. In general, this article succeeds in reaching the target audience.


The author effectively uses pathos and logos in constructing the arguments, but fails to include ethos into the rhetoric. The author uses pathos through constructing the identity of the users of online education. By mentioning the “working adult”, “active military student”, “low-income, minority, and adult students,” and “millions of people who are college material to fall through the cracks”, the author actually hints on the sense of corporate responsibility of the Rio Salado College. Establishing such a positive image is effective to make the article more persuasive. Logos is mainly achieved through referring to the figures and facts. The extensive use of data provides solid support for the arguments. Despite the success in pathos and logos, the article fails to establish a sense of credibility through the identity of the author or the quality of the news platform. Without an introduction of the author’s expertise in online education, the extensive use of “we”s may seem too subjective to the audience. The important parameters that are used in assessing the value of education include corporate recognition and collaboration with famous universities. These important sources of credibility are not found in the article.


The style of the article is somewhat contributive to the message intended by the author. There is an extensive use of the first and second persons in the article. For example, “any way you look at it, online learning is an increasingly vital part...” Here the author tries to bring himself closer to the audience by using “you” to create a conversation-like effect. Another example is “our country can’t continue to allow millions of people … to fall through the cracks.” Using “our” again shortens the distance between the author and the readers. It makes the reader unconsciously consider the author to be on the same “side” as theirs, thus more likely to agree with the author’s ideas. Uses of first and second persons work to make the overall style of the article more approachable and easier to read. However, it also ruins the objectivity of the article, making it less persuasive. A balance between objectivity and subjectivity is thus important. The author should avoid using first person in instances like “we never cancel an online class” due to the subjectivity in it, making it sound more like an advertisement and reducing the persuasiveness.


Statistics is one of the major source of persuasiveness in the article. The author starts with the amount of investment to show the value of Rio Salado College. There is also a reference to the 2011 “Sloan Survey of Online Learning,” indicating that over 6 million students are taking online courses. These numbers effectively show the readers the scale of the online education industry and the huge potential of it. The advantages of Rio Salado College are also demonstrated through figures. For example: “60 certificate and degree programs,” “flexibility of 48 start dates a year,” “took 30 years for Rio Salado to get to this point,” “6000 course sections,” and “48 percent less than peer institutions nationwide.” These figures help the readers build an intuitive impression of Rio Salado College and online education in general. Instead of the facilities and the system, the utility of education is what the readers care the most about. The utility includes social recognition, employer recognition, compatibility with traditional education programs, etc. The article fails to incorporate statistics about the collaboration with traditional universities, and the rate of employment for the graduates from online education programs.


The article has also used a fair amount of references to support its argument. For example: “The 2011 Sloan Survey of Online Learning” and “surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Chronicle of Higher Education” both attempt to establish the credibility of the statistics sources, to making the argument more persuasive. In the technical challenges section, the author mentions the collaboration between Rio Salado College and major IT companies such as Microsoft and Dell. This makes the system developed seem more reliable to the readers. There is no quote used in the article, which may diminish its effectiveness. For example, there is no endorsement from the authorities, educational experts, renowned universities and colleges, companies and employers, or past graduates from Rio Salado College. As a result, the only impression of Rio Salado College the readers can build is based on the statistics provided by the author. The single-sidedness weakens the arguments. Testimony or endorsement from credible or relevant parties will add new dimensions to the article and make it more persuasive.


The author has not adequately addressed the counter arguments against online education. Although the title says, “risks and rewards” of online learning, most of the article is about the advantages of online learning, with little mention about the concerns people may have for it. It turns out that the “risks” mentioned in the title is not the risks for the students and the users at all. Instead, the article addresses the “risks” from Rio Salado College and the investors’ perspective, which is not relevant to the theme of the article. There lacks an argument about how the risk of going for an online education instead of traditional education is one worth taking. In terms of the value of online education, the author refers to the sources by saying: “less than 30 percent of the public believes that online and classroom courses provide the same educational value. Half of college presidents share that belief.” By only providing the percentage, the author fails to target the core of the problem, which is why people believe online education to be of less value compared to traditional classroom.


Reaching out to the audience is the most effective persuasion strategy used by the author. As mentioned about, the appropriate use of first and second persons bring the readers closer to the author. There are also multiple instances that indicate the author has truly taken deep thoughts about the needs of the readers. For example, the mentioning of 48 start dates a year for online courses addresses the needs of part time and working students who cannot attend fixed-time classrooms. The emphasis on the low-income, working adult, and military student populations also make these groups of people feel more personal relevance with Rio Salado College. Moreover, the author also mentions about expanding the system to include Mac users. This shows that the author tries to make the impression that online education is embracing all students, and Rio Salado College is making an effort to bring more convenience to the varying needs of the students. These arguments effectively reach out to the readers who feel that their group are given special attention and care.


In conclusion, the article is found to be lacking in ethos, credibility, reference and endorsements, and attention to major counterarguments. Despite the weaknesses, the article has succeeded in creating a positive impression of Rio Salado College and online education in general, with the effective use of statistics, pathos, logos, an approachable style, and active attempts to reach out and connect with the audience.


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