Confession: I hate grading. While I enjoy reading my students’ work and providing feedback to help them improve as writers, I do not appreciate spending entire evenings or weekends watching stacks of essays dwindle ever too slowly. Last year, I had only 100 students, so grading was bearable, but I remember all too well my year with 180 students and what seemed like a mountain of work to grade. And I often think of my colleagues who are still facing hundreds of essays to grade every week.
Despite this odious, time-consuming challenge, my blood still curdles a bit at the thought of automated essay graders. Can computers actually grade essays and provide the kind of thoughtful, qualitative feedback that teachers spend so much time providing to students? I believe that the answer is no. But what computers can do is make the grading process easier for teachers and more effective for students. I have always been a pen-and-paper girl, but I am gradually making the transition to online grading.
Turnitin.com – If your school has not used Turnitin.com, then I highly encourage your English department to make a case for acquiring this valuable resource, as it has many benefits:
- Teachers can highlight sections of writing, leave quick comments, type extended comments, and even voice-record their response to an essay. All of these options make the grading process more efficient.
- Teachers no longer need to carry around stacks of papers or worry about a stray paper wandering away.
- Students can use Turnitin.com to submit multiple drafts, complete peer response activities, and review teachers’ feedback.
- Turnitin.com provides a plagiarism check that highlights potentially plagiarized text and lists the online sources and essays where that text was found.
- Turnitin.com provides an automated grammar check.
Turnitin.com does not have an automated grading feature, but it does make online grading more convenient for teachers and for students. For more information about grading on Turnitin.com, you can visit Turnitin.com. To read more about my thoughts on automated grading systems, please see Part 2 of this blog post.