Automated grading programs effective as proofreaders

August 21, 2014

Several recent studies have found that automated essay grading programs, or robo-graders, can be extremely effective as proofreaders and writing tutors. These programs are designed to grade essays and exams, but have been criticized as being unable to discern meaning and as being capable of being manipulated. But, when used as a proofreader that provides feedback on written material, robo-readers are having positive effects on students’ writing and rates of revision. In one study, when students were required to submit their work to the robo-grader first, they were more willing to go back and revise papers based on feedback from the robo-grader than they were when offered feedback from a professor. Researchers suggest that the individualized and impersonal nature of the feedback contributes to the students’ reactions. “It’s the very non-humanness of a computer that may encourage students to experiment, to explore, to share a messy rough draft without self-consciousness or embarrassment. In return, they get feedback that is individualized, but not personal — not 'punitive,'" reads a summary. Hechinger Report