Computers, grading essays? At first glance, it sounds impractical at best, and nearly impossible. But for teachers who have tried one of a growing number of essay-grading software programs, letting a machine do the arduous work of grading papers is both practical and time-saving.
Existing programs can assess the quality of sentence organization, grammar, usage, and style, and some even use artificial intelligence to evaluate the quality of an essay on a particular topic. In this article from Teacher's August/September issue, Kevin Bushweller looks at how the upshot of such software is the time it saves teachers, but the downside includes its limitations as far as assessing creativity and literary merit.
Should teachers be allowed to use computer software to "electronically assess" students' written work? Are essay-grading programs a more efficient alternative, and one that could be trusted as it is improved? Or will such technology shortchange students of the valuable feedback they need?