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COLUMBIA, Missouri – Student essays always seem to be riddled with the same sorts of flaws.
So sociology professor Ed Brent decided to hand the work off – to a computer.
"But we want to do the fun stuff, the challenging stuff.
And the computer can do the tedious but necessary stuff."Developed with National Science Foundation funding, SAGrader is so far used only in Brent's classroom.
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Assessment of student learning is an important task undertaken by educators.Essay writing can be used to assess this deeper learning, which includes a student’s ability to synthesize his/her thoughts, and argue for propositions.Automated essay grading systems are now starting to be used in the educational sector with some success.Consider the reach of e-Rater: 400,000 GMAT test-takers annually, a half-million U. K-12 students and 46 international schools and districts.ETS says an additional 2,000 teachers begin using its technology each month. It's the believability that it can do the things it already can do."South Dakota is one of several states that have tested essay-grading software.Some 80 percent of Indiana's 60,000 11th-graders have their English assessment scored by computer, and another 10,000 ninth-graders are taking part in a trial in which computers assess some routine written assignments.Stan Jones, Indiana's commissioner of higher education, said the technology isn't as good as a teacher but cuts turnaround time, trims costs and allows overworked teachers to give written assignments without fearing the workload."This (allows) them to require more essays, more writing, and have it graded very painlessly," Jones said. "It's fairly consistent," said Keith Kelly, 21, of Cleveland, one of Brent's sociology students.Educational Testing Service sells Criterion, which includes the "e-Rater" used to score GMAT essays.Vantage Learning has Intelli Metric, Maplesoft sells Maple T.However it can be time consuming and costly for humans to grade student work.Technology has been available to assist teachers in grading objective tests for several decades; however these true-false and multiple choice tests do not capture the deeper aspects of student learning.