" To find out, he distributed free software subscriptions provided by Measurement Incorporated to teachers of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Mote and Heritage and asked them to try it during the 2014-15 school year.Teachers don't dismiss the idea of automation, he said. " Some students were asking that question at Anna P.
Writing is recognized as a critical skill in business, education and many other layers of social engagement.
Finding reliable, efficient ways to assess writing is of increasing interest nationally as standardized tests add writing components and move to computer-based formats.
The benefits of automation are great, from an administrative point of view.
If computer models provide acceptable evaluations and speedy feedback, they reduce the amount of needed training for human scorers and, of course, the time necessary to do the scoring.
Where it might take a human reader five minutes to attach a holistic score to a piece of writing, the automated system can process thousands at a time, producing a score within a matter of seconds, Wilson said.
"If it takes a couple weeks to get back to the student they don't care about it anymore," he said. The software vastly accelerates the feedback loop." But computers are illiterate. The scores they attach to writing are based on mathematical equations that assign or deduct value according to the programmer's instructions. They do not understand how far Johnny has come in his writing and they have no special patience for someone who is just learning English.
Calculators and other electronic devices are routinely used by educators.
"Do math teachers rue the day students didn't do all computations on their own? Wilson heard mixed reviews about use of the software in the classroom when he met with teachers at Mote in early June.
Teachers said students liked the "game" aspects of the automated writing environment and that seemed to increase their motivation to write quite a bit. "Students said, 'I added details and my score went up.' They figured that out." And they wanted to keep going, shooting for higher scores.
Because they got immediate scores on their writing, many worked to raise their scores by correcting errors and revising their work over and over. "Many times during recess my students chose to do PEGWriting," one teacher said.