Software to Grade Essays?
Photo by Gretchen Ertl
Here's an exciting, maybe alarming, development reported by John Markoff: "Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break" (New York Times, April 4, 2013)
Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the "send" button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.Maybe we won't have to imagine much longer, because . . .
And then, instead of being done with that exam, imagine that the system would immediately let you rewrite the test to try to improve your grade.
EdX, the nonprofit enterprise founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer courses on the Internet, has just introduced such a system and will make its automated software available free on the Web to any institution that wants to use it. The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers, freeing professors for other tasks.That sounds too good to be true, but I'll leave the article for interested readers to follow up on. Even if the EdX system can deliver, I doubt the software will be able to handle essays by Korean students for a good while. Of course, I've been known to be wrong.
If only there were a software program to check for that sort of wrongness . . .