Help! Can computers rescue us from piles of grading? Part 2

Automated Essay Graders – In Part 1 of this blog post, I discussed how can improve the essay-grading process for teachers. In addition to letting teachers easily add comments on digital copies of essays, it provides an automated plagiarism and grammar check. It does not, however, include an automated grading option. Before last week, I would have said that was a good thing, since I was against the principle of automated graders. However, I now have a new understanding of automated graders that may lead me to consider using them in the future.

  • With automated grading systems, teachers must first upload a set of graded essays to “train” the program (Reich, 2012).
  • When the system “grades” new papers, it predicts what score the teacher would have given the essay, based on patterns and information it collected from the sample set (Reich, 2012).

The authority behind the grading, then, still comes from the teacher, who sets the standards for the grades. And as the teacher, I would of course still provide extended comments on the essays and check the validity of the scores.  Therefore, the benefits of the automated grading system would include the following:

  • Students would have the opportunity to see immediate feedback about what their score would likely be. If they see that their essay will probably get a 3 out of 5, then this may provide some motivation for them to spend more time revising.
  • An automated grading system could help teachers’ scores be more consistent and would give teachers more time to focus on qualitative feedback.

At this point, I am not familiar with any automated grading systems that my colleagues are using in the classroom, but I am grateful that I have a better perspective about how they work and how they might be used. I may even seek out automated grading resources to use in my classroom next year, so stay tuned for a possible Part 3 to this post.

Source: Reich, J. (2012) Grading automated essay scoring programs.  Education Week: EdTech Researcher. Retrieved from

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1 Response to Help! Can computers rescue us from piles of grading? Part 2

  1. Merisenda Bills says:

    Wow, I love this idea – having it give students a “possible score” before they turn in the actual draft! If something like this were in place, I feel it would make a teacher’s life easier.


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