Robotic Grading=Robotic Writing

When I first heard that computers could grade essays as well as humans I had several reactions.  First Reaction: Sweet; this will at least give us more time to focus on progressive instruction methods rather than traditional grading.  We can assign essays without the incredible burden of countless hours of grading.  Wait, how can we give meaningful feedback?  Second Reaction: Will this be a technology that continues to push the teacher out of the classroom? The third reaction came after hearing the tagline of the study over and over and over from every blog and news outlet I follow.  "Overall, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores", "overall, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores".  Over and overThird Reaction: There is something wrong with what and how we expect students to write.

If a computer program, which is a cold-logic math problem wrapped in plastic, can evaluate writing, our writing has become too mechanic and inflexible.  Writing is an art, not a science.  Can a program really capture the complexity and authenticity of creative writing?  How can it score irony, wit, and satire?  Does it recognize subtle humor?  Can it score oil paintings? Seriously.

Maybe our rigid writing expectations are one reason many students hate to write, but love to text.  I can say personally I hate to write formal papers, but I like to write this blog.  Maybe I am way off on this.  Its funny how some people can view something like robot grading as a great advancement in education, while others see this as blasphemous and just plain wrong.

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