Mike Kueber's Blog

April 5, 2013

Computer grading of college essays

Filed under: Education — Mike Kueber @ 1:27 am
Tags: ,

Although I went through four years of college and three years of law school, I don’t claim to be an expert on the grading of college essays because I never helped any professors with grading exams.  I do remember, however, hearing a rumor in law school that some professors didn’t actually read the exams, but rather skimmed them in search of key words. 

The rumor made sense because there seemed no way that a professor would be able to carefully read a hundred stuffed blue books.  Plus, it supported our sense that, despite assurances to the contrary, quantity was more important than quality in getting a good grade.         

An article in the NT Times today reports that Harvard and MIT have developed computer software that will be able to grade essay exams.  Such a development isn’t surprising when you consider that computers can be programmed to play world-class chess. 

The naysayers are protesting that the computers can’t do as good a job as motivated, skilled professors.  I say that is setting the bar too high.  This is a promising development because of greater efficiencies.  Plus, the software will almost certainly get better, while live professors won’t.  And finally, as described in the article, the new software can be used as a teaching/practice tool.

Way to go, Harvard and MIT.

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