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Education Software

Essay Grading Software For Teachers 535

asjk writes "Software to help teachers with grading has been around for sometime. This is true even with respect to grading essays. A new tool, called Criteria, will look at grammar, usage, and even style and organization. It works by being trained by at least 450 essays scored by two professionals. The difference this time? Here is a snip from the article: '"There's a lot of skepticism," Dr. Spatola said. "The people opposed see it dehumanizing the student's papers, putting them through some sort of mechanical, computerized system like the multiple choice tests. That's really not the case, because we're not talking about eliminating the human element. We're making the process more efficient."'"
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Essay Grading Software For Teachers

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  • Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsheridan6 ( 600425 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:19PM (#6890753)
    that they've automated away a major part of a professors job, while we still need humans to pick spinach and deliver pizzas.
  • Uh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:22PM (#6890763) Homepage Journal
    I thought the point of an essay was to grade the ideas and how well they're expressed. I didn't realize they were spelling/grammar tests.

    Maybe I'm just a bit jaded by this because of all the stupid grammar and spelling nitpicking that goes on here on Slashdot. Evidentally, it's much easier to criticize my spelling than it is to provided a rebuttal to my point.
  • Oh goody. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArsonPanda ( 647069 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:23PM (#6890767)
    1 - the grammar check option in MS word is crap. this sounds awfully similar.

    2 - your resume can suck, but with the proper buzz words, it'll come out looking like gold to those automated resume checkers.

    1+2 = students who turn in good papers that aren't structured perfectly (and you have to admit, there is some fluidity to language) will get marked down, and those who know what bullet points to put in their papers will get good marks, even though the content is crap.
    How long until you get kids selling manuals in the bathroom on what the machina are looking for?
  • by BJH ( 11355 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:25PM (#6890780)
    I bet that I can write a paper that satisfies this application's conditions for correctness of grammar, usage, style and organization, but is completely and utterly meaningless.
    Then, let's feed this thing Ulysses and let's see how high it grades Joyce.

    Anybody who can't see that this thing is useless for promoting any sort of creativity among students is off their rocker.
  • If it has flaws (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ReyTFox ( 676839 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:26PM (#6890783)
    Then it is the students who are being cheated by a teacher using the software that doesn't double-check the material on his own. They will go through the class without having their mistakes caught. While the erosion of standards that a flawed proofing program might bring isn't likely to be enormous, it's kind of strange to think that the future of the English language would be in part determined by a development team piece of software.

    Hope it works well, though, and gets used as a proper checking tool.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:26PM (#6890785) Homepage
    As long as this is merely an assistant and not the end-all be-all, as long as actual qualified instructors review the essay after this program does, I'm all for it.

    The English language is so full of subtleties, nuances, combinations, and fantastic structural intracacies that make phenomenal writing in it possible (Faulkner, Bradbury, etc.). There's a reason English is a field of study for graduate degrees: it's absolutely worthy of them. There is no subsitute for the educated, refined judgment of someone who is exceedingly well-versed in the language.
  • What humanity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by parliboy ( 233658 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yobilrap}> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:29PM (#6890796) Homepage
    Lemme let you guys in on a little secret. If you ever take an educational standards and measurement class, one of the things you'll learn about is the construction and grading of essay questions. This includes writing out objective standards for grading beforehand, possibly even designing a rubric explaining exactly what it takes to earn points.

    There is no "humanity" in a modern constructed essay. There are certainly going to be "judgement calls" when standards are not as fully fleshed out for the computer as they should be, but as long as those are appealable, I have no problem having a computer assign me the other 95% of my essay points. The only instructors who will fear this are those who like to assign grades arbitrarily. And I don't feel too sympathetic toward those people.

  • by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) < minus pi> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:30PM (#6890800) Homepage

    If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.

    A sonnet by Byron may score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will - so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.

    (From the full script [].
  • by UnifiedTechs ( 100743 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:31PM (#6890807) Homepage
    "The people opposed see it dehumanizing the student's papers, putting them through some sort of mechanical, computerized system like the multiple choice tests.

    Actually it's about time! I don't see the essays themselves being dehumanized, but what I do look forward to is the day a middle school student doesn't receive a bad grade just because his book report was on the "Theory of Relativity" and the teacher couldn't comprehend the subject. (This is from experience) What it will do is take the human factor out of the grading process and grade all reports equally regardless of subject matter.
  • Mark Twain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:31PM (#6890810) Homepage
    is just one of many writers who would flunk using this system.

    'Nuff said.
  • perfect! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rabs ( 208464 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:34PM (#6890827)
    this software would be perfect for students majoring in comp sci or engineering who have to take a composition / writing class...

    College of Liberal Arts / Sci: Rhetoric 105
    - or -
    College of Engineering: Pattern Analysis 202

    To teach the principles of essay-writing skills. Liberal Arts students will be encouraged to follow boiler-plate styles and formats, while Engineering students will be graded on their ability to analyze and defeat pattern recognition software.

    - rabs
  • *Shudder* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gregfortune ( 313889 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:38PM (#6890852)
    Sounds like everyone feels the same way too... We've got some automated testing software for MS Office at the local college and although it's getting better, it still makes really silly mistakes from time to time. Analyzing English composition has got to be many times more difficult than watching a bunch of clicks and key presses.

    The only use I can see for this thing is as a "first pass" grading tool that quickly finds obvious mistakes (spelling, grammer, redundancy, etc) and flags them for the instructor. On the other hand, it's probably just as time consuming for the instructor to read over the flagged items as it is to just catch them on the first time reading through the paper.
  • Re:Uh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:39PM (#6890857) Homepage Journal

    Essays have two aspects, spelling/grammar, and content.

    Right now the computer can grade the technical side of a paper, and the teacher can grade the creative side. Now if the essay is for English class, the focus should be on the technical side of papers, so the computer can judge the whole paper from A to F on spelling and grammar.

    Really it depends on the class. English classes especially in highschool are all about improving grammar and technical ability, you dont actually do any creative writing until college usually.
  • Style? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the uNF cola ( 657200 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:42PM (#6890876)
    So where does style come in? There are many, MANY forms of style, which make writters unique. For instance, I've found that when I write, even the shortest essays, I tend to break up my thoughts into multipart sentences... like this one. They tend to be very long and drawn out. I also use "granted" and "don't forget". I also seem to create a lot of sentences that are self contradicting: Though this, something else. It's part of my style.

    My style isn't completely mine. I'm sure over-use would be bad. Granted this. Granted that. Where do those softer features of writing come in? Or are we all to be sterile and write with no tone or style.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:47PM (#6890896) Journal
    We have had Dali, Sagan, Kip Thorne, Hawkin, Poe, Twain, Sigmund Frued, Einstein, Torvalds, et cetera. The great minds that you mentioned were indeed great, but if you place their philosophical or artistic achievements next to the great minds of our past century and a half, I find them equal.

    As far as the achievements of ancient cultures go, it is all relative. We have harnessed fusion, mapped the genome, created antibiotics, peered deep into the hearts of galaxies a 100,000,000 light years away, forged fiber optics, designed the integrated circuit, et cetera. People three hundred years from now will look back upon us and wonder how a civilization that could barely put a man on the moon (a feat that will surely be trivial to them) was able to usher in the Information Age in only a decade worth of work.

  • Semantics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:50PM (#6890919) Journal
    It's funny that you mention fear as a motivation for opinion. The same can be said of you: you fear the human element so much that you would rather leave the work to a automaton, a thing that lacks the great complexity of man.


  • by BladeMelbourne ( 518866 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:50PM (#6890920)
    Some "dehumaniSing" could be a good thing, espcially when grading subjective material.

    Objective material is factual, a simplification is "Most dogs have 2 eyes."

    Subjective material is opinionated - "Australia should legalise heroin injecting rooms." Obviously this is controversial, and there are serveral positions on the matter.

    Most teachers/lecturers/graders/tutors have their own (pre-existing) subjective opinions on certain topics. If you submit an essay that opposes their views, the chances are very high that you will get a lower grade, even if your essay is well formed/written/structured.

    In high school, I always took this into account and wrote essays that agreed with the teacher's point of view, even if I didn't. Such software could lessen the need for writing what they 'want to read'.
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:51PM (#6890922) Homepage Journal

    You werent taught English. I'm not trying to insult you but thats one of the problems with our public schools, they dont do a good job teaching

    When I went to high school 15 years ago, we didn't do any grammar in high school English class, it was all read-and-interpret (i.e. read-and-make-up-some-bullshit).

    Yes and thats why when you got to college you couldnt write a good research paper.

    We were supposed to learn the technical stuff in middle school (and we did to some degree).

    You are supposed to learn English through highschool as well, if you want to get a 1500+ on your SATs. This is exactly why students get such low SAT scores in urban public schools, they dont get a focused education, when its time to take tests the test does not care how creative you are or even how intelligent you are, the only thing that matters to the SAT test is your technical knowledge.

    Teach technical English and later on let a person learn creativity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2003 @10:56PM (#6890939)
    It's true. I've had teachers take their questions and quizzes directly off of websites (the curious may want to enter a few key words from their latest homework on google and see what turns up...). Now here's an ethical dilemma for you: if it's ok for them to get the questions of a website, is it alright for me to get the answers off that same website?

    The good old fashioned teachers, on the other hand, would never do such a thing. No, they have been xeroxing the same handouts for the last two decades. You can tell by the fact that they have become half unreadable.

    Homework is either trade it and grade it or credit/no credit. Major tests are all done on scantrons.

    That's not to say I don't have good teachers.

    But I've also had teachers who put in the bare minimum. At the end of the day, they're gone before the rest of us. They teach 5 periods (one's prep) for 180 days a year and gripe about having an average salary with mediocre benefits. On the other hand, the conservative holdouts who arrive at school before the janitors, who stay up all night meticuously grading essays, and who teach sheerly high schoolers simply because they want to (many have Ph.D's and could easily be working at the local University if they so desired) never gripe.

    There has been a lot of proposals about reforming teacher pay. I don't know what can be done to attract better teachers. But sheerly for the sake of fairness I would like to see the good teachers taking a disproportionate share of the money. The trouble is, they would never ask for it.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:07PM (#6890978)
    If I have learned anything from my university career it is this: As class sizes get larger, testing becomes more frequent and more automated. Of course you say, if you have a class of one hundred or more people, it is simply not possible to mark that many essays. This usually means that essays don't need to be written at all! What do they do? Multiple choice! I heard a statistic once that if you chose answers randomly on a MC test that you could get a C by not knowing anything beyond how to circle a letter! ----- Discovering this, I made sure that I took all the obsure english classes that had no more than 30 people in them. An unexpected positive side effect to this system of choosing courses was that 90% of the other students in them were girls. Yea, life was good. ;-)
  • by ufoo ( 635711 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:09PM (#6890986) Homepage
    Apparently, the system uses statistical analysis as well as grammar checks to determine the score for the essay. Basically, they've built up a database of essays that have been graded by a bunch of humans, and then used these algorithms to figure out which bucket the essay belongs in. Sounds kinda like SpamAssassin, actually. I'd be willing to bet that with sufficient resources (in terms of essays and human grading time), this wouldn't be all that tough to duplicate. After all, what are spam filters but content analyzers? (Shameless plug for a system that requires human judges rather than computer judges)
  • Automated is good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:11PM (#6890998) Homepage Journal

    Automated is good because theres less chance of error, and its almost always fair.

    The only way to get fair grades in university is to be smart enough to pick the right teachers, and drop the ones who you dont get along with.

    I heard a statistic once that if you chose answers randomly on a MC test that you could get a C by not knowing anything beyond how to circle a letter! ----- Discovering this, I made sure that I took all the obsure english classes that had no more than 30 people in them. An unexpected positive side effect to this system of choosing courses was that 90% of the other students in them were girls. Yea, life was good. ;-)
    [ Reply to This ]

    Who wants a C? Thats as good as an F in college, if you get a C you can just drop the class and take it again!

    I dont really like small classes myself, there is no real benefit, what I notice from smaller classes is, teachers are more critical of you, you get greater punishment for poor attendence or for being late to class, you also get more focus from the teacher and this can be good or bad depending on if the teacher likes you or not.

    If the teacher likes you, getting this extra focus is a very good thing because a personal connection with a teacher who likes you is to your benefit, however if the teacher dislikes you and decides to personally focus on you, this is bad.

  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:16PM (#6891015) Journal
    You speak as if the use of computers to judge intellectual works will somehow make our society exempt from "rich upper class morons buying and pandering their way through school". Such an aristocratic model is something that exists beyond the scope of one's grades in school, and will not be eliminated, in any sense, by such a thing.
  • by cybercyst ( 74322 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:20PM (#6891038)
    One of the primary purposes of essays are to learn how to write for a specific audience.
    If you remove the human element, then you aren't writing for any audience, unless, of course, everyone starts writing for computers' entertainment and education.
  • by hobbesmaster ( 592205 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:22PM (#6891045)
    So because a school doesn't teach to a standardized test it isn't a "focused education"? It seems to me that the common denominator isn't public schools, it's the automatic nature of SATs.

    You have to master (or be working hard towards) the technical aspects of something before you can have "fun" with it. Be it music, coding, or any language. If you are unable to write effectively then you will be unable to properly assert your point, which means that no matter how nifty an idea you have in your head, your reader will still understand it very well because you haven't done a good job explaining yourself.

    And no, I have not been taught very good grammar myself. I suppose its pretty damned good for coming out of Kentucky though...
  • Re:Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:32PM (#6891091) Journal
    "That's really not the case, because we're not talking about eliminating the human element. We're making the process more efficient."

    I love this quote in particular because it has to be the most disingenious claim one could make. The entire act of making something a process, and then making that process more efficient IS "removing the human element". It's the type of subtle point that would be completely missed by, say, a computer grading system.
  • Re:Uh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prospero14 ( 233659 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:36PM (#6891113)
    Essays have two aspects, spelling/grammar, and content. Right now the computer can grade the technical side of a paper, and the teacher can grade the creative side.

    RTFA! Criteria does not merely grade spelling and grammer. Rather, it has a database of 500 papers graded by humans, and the program uses statisical analysis to compare a given paper to those in its database. If a paper uses the right technical terms, contains phrases similar to those in "A" papers, and uses phrases like "thus", "because" and "in conclusion" which suggest a logical flow, then the paper gets an A.

    However, you are right that Criteria grades based on form rather than on content. As anyone who reads usenet can tell you, it is quite possible for a paper to have the form of coherent argument, to use the right buzzwords, but in fact not contain a logical or persuasive argument.

    Criteria is indeed flawed, but not in the way that you suggest. Rather than check spelling and grammer, it checks for the appearance of an argument. As well all know, merely looking like a good argument isn't good enough.

  • by shepd ( 155729 ) <> on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:49PM (#6891167) Homepage Journal
    >the job of highschool should be to get a student into the best college/university possible


    That's the problem right there.

    Highschool should be to prepare you for the real world (ie: A job, life, maybe marriage).

    University is there to prepare you for a lifetime of learning on a subject.

    Instead, we have employers that require university educations for secretaries. It's insane, wrong, and needs to stop if we expect everyone in society to be useful (and they ARE, it's just that stupid employers use university education as a filter).
  • by Quothz ( 683368 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:51PM (#6891177) Journal

    Creativity comes naturally, it doesn't have to be learned.

    I couldn't agree more. However, meaningful expression must be learned, and without it, creativity is less useful. Technical ability in language improves one's ability to express oneself verbally. Similarly, technical prowess in sculpting, painting, and performance aids expression in these (or any) media.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:53PM (#6891187) Journal
    In case you didn't know, SAT's are only one of MANY things used to determine who gets into college. Race for instance is far more important.
  • by MoggyMania ( 688839 ) on Saturday September 06, 2003 @11:56PM (#6891197) Homepage Journal
    At first glance, I thought that a tool used to analyze essays would be a nightmare -- it would kill creativity, homogenize style, etc. However, I then remembered my experience grading freshman *college* essays last year. This was in a small-classroom course, taught by an extremely good instructor that also offered office hours galore, all kinds of free tutoring on campus, free access to computers with MS Word, etc -- in other words, *plenty* of chances for the students to improve. I was given three distinct classes worth of essays to grade, and traded off with the instructor on which half of each class we'd each tackle. The papers were dreadful...while as an English & Creative Writing grad, I am extremely pro-creativity, these students weren't ready for that. Some of the sentences I ran across were so awful I would IM my friends and have *them* in hysterics at how terrible they were. For example -- and keep in mind, these are middle-class white kids, NOT English-as-a-second-language students. "There is not connection with what I know the same circles don't fit inside squares." "There is also numerous of shapes and designes which not to difined." "They get into the analization of the man..." The simple truth is, while creativity is great, there is a baseline level of grammatical ability that needs to be used in order for others to simply understand WTF the writer is saying. A lot of the time, it would take me 5 - 6 scans per sentence to figure out what my students were writing. The worst part of this is that because of department rules, I wasn't allowed to give any kid below a C if he/she *tried* to follow the essay guidelines. As long as the right number of pages, subject, etc. were touched on, the person would pass. I think the best use of technology in cases like that would be to sit the person down at the computer with the grammar-analysis program, and rather than have them ignore classroom lessons, interactively edit their own papers. Not the way that Word v.X does it, where the person just right-clicks to get a "correct" change, but the older method in which the program offers a series of alterations with explanations *why* the original is out of whack. Doing that in lecture isn't realistic, unfortunately. Despite the number of grammatical nightmares in the course, the students really were at varying levels of ability, each with a unique misunderstanding of the rules. Each needed individualized attention, though as far as I could tell none of them were trying to obtain it. Also, the campus requirements for Freshman English didn't leave time for stuff they should have learned in elementary school.
  • Re:Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clifyt ( 11768 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @12:22AM (#6891278)
    ACTUALLY...I think thats a quote I gave Dr. Shermis a few years back :-) I think he WOULD like to remove the human element...

    Its NOT eleminating the human element...its making the human element a little more susceptible to objective means than the old subjective means. Raters still can use what ever they feel is necessary, but in the end, I can see how far from the standard deviation on certain ratings these folks are and 'suggest' to other raters that they might want to take a look at that essay before a final score is placed on it.

    Fuck fuck fuck...the one and only time I will ever see any research I had a hand in developing ever end up on the front page of /. and I'm stuck at a concert doing my second line of work -- music tech (though with a wireless connection :-)

    I'll have to yell at my friends at FIU and Vantage about this oversight.

    If ya'll are interested in seeing a demo of this technology in action (I'm sure the first 20 people will destroy the server), take a look at -- (purposely unlinked so that folks will have to cut and paste).

    Its an older model, but we are in the midsts of evaluating 2000 more essays with 8 human raters that should make the model a little cleaner...hmmm...probably should run my horrid grammer through it before I post here...nah...I think I broke it last time I used my own text...

    Time to get back to work...the guys are probably wondering why I said I needed to check my email and have been gone a half hour.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @12:58AM (#6891381) Journal
    Now before you start up the flame throwers, this is not a message to deride high school students over their lack of creativity.

    But when I was in high school, we were told that proper essay writing was an essential skill for the departmentals, and when they said "proper," they meant "Must conform to between five and seven paragraphs, with the first and last being this opening and conclusion with three to five paragraphs of body--each containing one topic of discussion."

    Furthermore, it was made VERY clear that creative or unconventional ideas (let alone language!) would be strongly frowned upon. There was One True Way to write an essay, and One True Opinion on any given subject. Any deviations from that would cost you.

    I hated it then, I hate it now, but I don't see any problem with having computers mark essays like this. After all, they were trying to turn us into computers to create them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 07, 2003 @01:01AM (#6891391)
    "Rules were made to be broken", they say. And the same is true of the rules of English. Creative use of language necessarily breaks rules. Winston Churchill once remarked about bad grammar, "This is a situation up with which I will not put!"

    What this will do is reward a class of students good at memorizing rules. Most of the great writers of English would fail were their work submitted to the machine. Let's see what the system does grading Shakespeare, or Donne, or Lincoln, or George Eliot, or Joyce, or Pynchon.
  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <> on Sunday September 07, 2003 @01:03AM (#6891396) Journal
    The funny thing about this is that, if the essay is graded by computer, the best way to write the essay would be to have the COMPUTER write it. The same criteria that the program would use to grade the essay could very easily be turned around and used to generate an essay that the computer will love. Having a computer written term paper given an A by a computer grader is worthy of an Ionesco play.

    Beyond that there is no way the computer will be able to distinguish between something truly interesting and something that just lists the facts in simple Dick and Jane language with an occasional compund sentence to keep the grammar checker happy. All it can do is check for fact1, fact2, fact3, and any interesting conclusion you draw in the paper will be completely lost. Anything more would be turing test worthy, and I heartily doubt they've achieved anything close to that.

    Elegant prose is often not strictly grammatical, so a boring paper would likely score the same or better than a far better written essay with the same facts. I routinely turn off grammar checking in every program I've ever used it in. Aside from the occasional misplaced modifier or dangling participle, its worthless.

    In conclusion, this idea is a pipe dream which would discourage high quality writing (i.e. the kind actual PEOPLE like to read), teach people the substandard grammatical constructs used by most grammar checking software, and create a market for software that writes term papers, thereby removing the last actual bit of work your average liberal arts major has to do. I think it's a hopelessly terrible idea. TA's already do this work; why waste time coming up with a program which will do the same thing, poorly?

    Just my opinion.
  • by Manywele ( 679470 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @02:12AM (#6891582)
    If they want to use this in high schools and middle schools then that assumes that all their students have computers with a word processor. What about all of the lower income kids at schools that don't allow after school activities (like using school computers) like public schools in NYC? It's a tool for the middle and upper classes that will give their teachers more time for their students and leave the teachers in poorer areas still overworked and struggling to keep up. It won't be feasible where it is needed the most.
  • Insecure, are we? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 07, 2003 @03:15AM (#6891748)
    Why are we feeling so threatened that a machine can do a human's job at this one, narrow task?

    Haven't you learned anything from Deep Blue? How many problems must the AI field conquer before it's taken seriously?

    Don't flatter yourself with delusions of superiority. If the computer agrees with human graders 99% of the time, then its response is definitely valid.

    Besides, its not as if professors grade your work anyway. That's a job for TAs.
  • Overlooked point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NFNNMIDATA ( 449069 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @04:06AM (#6891854) Journal
    No one will read this, but I bet that these automated essay graders are able to mimic human graders closely because the human graders themselves graded the 450 "config" essays under computer-esque conditions, i.e., a time constraint that forced them to skim, think as little as possible and generally act like a machine.
  • Re:Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Sunday September 07, 2003 @05:25AM (#6891996)
    I submitted this paper:

    "Hemingway bifurcated his sensibilities between post-modernism and jazz. This I posit without having read the majority of Hemingway's work: it seemed irrelevant to the focus of my current project. What is this focus, and is it monocular? My focus can be summed up as ascertaining the usefulness of the program analyzing this document.

    Without really being cognizant of the background of Freud's bisexuality, or Hemingway's sado-masochism, I cannot continue this paragraph. I will repeat this sentence without attaching any meaning to the words typed, or to my gonads. An essay in experimental dissection might be more appropriate for the issues presented here. Entirely too many bifocal wearers insist that I am currently composing gibberish. However, both Freud and Hemingway felt that bifocal wearers gloried in their bisexual sado-masochistic attachments. I concur, and I do so without reservation.

    Reiteration is the root of all nonplussed renegades of origami. Nothing can be elucidated from nonsensical verbiage, but some will make the valiant effort singing praises to the whisperer. When origami is embraced by the valiant trio, the nonsensical proctologist dies. Whenever a proctologist expires in a semantic heap, Hollywood has fodder for another musical, or at least the plotline for the final unaired episode of Barney meets Fred Flintstone. Barney is a seminal reductionist. When the elucidated evidence is thrust into trusting Barney's smiling orifice, San Franciscan nuns applaud loudly.

    Today I type my penultimate paragraph. I use penultimate artificially, but not without candor. Within this myriad exegesis, I pause. A Hollywood proctologist questions Freud's reasoning, and validates Barney's temporary hypothesis. In conclusion, the validity of essence cannot be lessened by the earnings of providence.

    If I have not typed 500 words, this paragraph is not my penultimate, nor was my last. To assert otherwise is prudent, but lacking in elegance. What a sad commentary on misery did Darwin conspire to unfold. He rejected utterly the Hemmingway of his, and our, forebears. His eloquence was Freud and lust personified."

    This earned me an overall 78% score, with no effort whatsoever. I composed this nonsense in minutes.

    Doesn't this system have a baloney detector?
  • by AvantLegion ( 595806 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @05:36AM (#6892017) Journal
    Fiction: Teachers will use this technology to help judge the nuts and bolts of the paper, freeing them to focus just on the quality of the intellectual content, making things easier and quicker in the grading process.

    Fact: Teachers would read only the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, and rely on the grading software to account for the quality of writing of the paper, and grade that way.

    Brutal Truth: Teachers already read only the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, so use of this software actually would be an improvement.

  • two thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pruss ( 246395 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @09:33AM (#6892436) Homepage
    1. Suppose you could put together a bunch of stats that have nothing to do with the content of the paper at hand and use that to predict the grade that a human would have given the paper with 95% accuracy. E.g., you look at the writer's socio-economic level, which high school he went to, what his grades in high school were, how neatly he is dressed, how neat his handwriting is, etc. I am not saying you CAN achieve that kind of correlation (in fact surely you can't because there isn't that kind of correlation between papers by the same person, I suspect), but what if you could? Isn't it obvious this is not a good thing?

    2. But here's a constructive use that would save us university faculty significant time. If the software really does grade spelling, grammar and syntax well, one could require of the student that before an essay gets handed in, it gets some high minimum score like 90% or even 98% (unless the student is dyslexic or something like that). Then we would not have to look at essays that had poor spelling, grammar and syntax, would have to do less red-inking, and would have more time to grade for content. (Which is all I grade for anyway in philosophy; though grammar, spelling, etc. get marked up but don't count unless they get in the way of my understanding.)
  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday September 07, 2003 @12:24PM (#6893453) Journal
    I will say most of this is different for Engineering classes, as those are usually large boring, and the teacher can't really teach much...but just about in ANY other field...

    Well too damn bad, this isnt about the teacher, the teachers job is to grade papers, its my job to submit paper work. What I do in between is none of the teachers business, as long as I do my job the teacher should do their job.

    Uhh, NO. The teachers job IS to teach. And you're right, what you do outside of class is none of the teachers business. But what you do INSIDE class most definitely is.

    Its not the teachers job to judge me as a person, its the teachers jobs to judge my work. This is exactly why we need machines, because certain people such as yourself want to judge the person and not the work.

    "This person doesnt dress nice, this person has long hair and looks like a hippy, this person is always late, I dont like this person"

    A teacher disliking someone on account of how they dress is an ENTIRELY different thing from disliking a student for being late and DISRESPECTFUL to both the class and the teacher. As a student your JOB is to go to class and to learn. If you can't do that, you shouldn't be at school, you should just go to frat parties, or do whatever else dropouts do.

    That depends on the professor, and on the textbook. Most of the time I learn better from the textbook, mainly because I am not designed to learn in a structured environment, and because I dont learn at the pace of the class, also because rarely did I have great teachers so I'm more comfortable just looking information up myself instead of asking questions.

    Really professors are coaches, I dont learn directly from them, they do sometimes make absorbing the textbook material easier when they give good lectures based on the material but most of the time, I could just read a transcript of their lecture and get the same knowledge.

    Don't get me wrong, a good professor and good books compliment each other. Last semester I had an African History profesor who had lived in Zimbabwe for 5 years, and in the Southern Sudan for several years. Her first hand observations, insights, and experiences that we are able to question, analyze, and ask NEW questions of are far more valuable than being able to read "The Sudan is hot." It sounds to me like your bitch is that you haven't had any good professors? At community college? I hate to say it, but that's not really surprising.

    Yes and I will drop your class if I were ever one of your students. I dont want to be judged by stupid shit that has nothing to do with my intelligence or my ability to learn. I want to be judged on my knowledge. Some people just live too far away from school, sometimes they dont have cars, other times they just overslept, either way this has absolutely nothing to do with learning and I dont see why you should have a right to punish me for my attendance if I get an A on ever paper.

    You're a student, your JOB is to go to class and learn. And if you don't see the correlation between going to class and learning, or you apparently already know _everything_ why are you even going to school? Or, your _particular_ school?

    Just do your fucking job and I'll do mine

    You're a student, your JOB is to go to class and LEARN. Let's say you became a teacher--do you think you would get good reviews it you stumbled into class 15 minutes late every day? Or you skipped business meetings because you just want to be fucking left alone to do your work? I don't think so. Real life is about more than just saying "let me do my fucking work"

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner