For this week, I read Paul Deane’s article “On the relation between between automated essay scoring and modern views of the writing construct” as well as Edward Brent and Martha Townsend’s chapter “Automated Essay Grading in the Sociology Classroom: Finding Common Ground.” On the whole, these two pieces leave me with a mixed view of AES. I think it can be useful, but within a narrow set of circumstances, and never as a means to completely replace a human reader. My analysis of each piece will treat the particular implications of each article.
Objections to AES are based on objections to the general construct of writing employed in standardized testing. Objections to AES, then, can be seen to speak less to any particular feature of the technology than to the construct of writing employed in the assessment of student writing.
The writing construct of AES is a valid construct.
This article raises interesting questions about the kind of writing construct we need to assume in order to oppose or defend AES.
Brent and Townsend
AES can be helpful, but only in limited situations and never as a replacement for a human reader.
AES challenges the value of writing as communication and contextual.
Brent, a Sociology instructor, was able to use AES with some success in a large, 200 person introductory sociology class, where the focus is on key concepts and terms. But he explicitly mentions that he would not use AES in a more research-based class.