English Teachers Reject Use of Robots to Grade Student Writing
Critics of standardized tests argue that the written portion of those assessments can short-circuit the process of developing ideas in writing. Using machines to grade those tests further magnifies their negative effects, according to a statement adopted last month by the National Council of Teachers of English.
Notes that high-schoolers who are readying themselves for real college writing experiences are not served well because they are accurately by superficial computer grading. When they arrive at a college writing class, they will be ill-prepared because the tests they have prepared for do not recognize quality, thoughtful writing.
The real problem is that teachers will be forced to teach the kind of writing that a computer likes, rather than the complex ideas and written thoughts a college teacher will expect. The aim of the NCTE statement is to force the creators of standardized tests to realize the many holes in computer grading, but it is unlikely to squelch the debate.
Computer graders are satisfied with writing that they recognize as competent, but opponents claim that they can only read superficially, looking for errors rather than for meaning. Computers cannot recognize important qualities of solid writing such as style, accuracy, logic, conclusions, support of conclusions, and clarity.
Teachers, then, are pressured to teach superficial writing that will appeal to a machine, restricting the strategies they employ to help students really improve their writing.
Those who oppose the NCTE state that real human teachers are not as good at grading as the statement claims. Detractors state that even using multiple human graders tends to be less accurate than computers. Studies suggest that computers are about as trustworthy as human evaluators.
While the NCTE forcefully resists, the results are not likely to side in their favor. More astute thinkers would accept the fact of computer grading, and then work within those parameters to find the best ways for human evaluators to work with, rather than against, the computers. Computer grading is a given, but if the NCTE would get behind it, they could influence the kind of system they end up with.
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Source is Chronicle.com
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Before you leave, let us know what your thoughts are on computers grading writing. Do you support the NCTE or standardized testing?