I think Bob Broad would fall around 3. At this point, he’s opposed to AES because it doesn’t assess what we’re trying to teach students, but, if at some point AES can assess rhetorical choices (audience, tone, etc.), then he wouldn’t mind considering using it in his classes.
Broad says that one of the biggest selling points that the makers/marketers of AES are espousing is that it will save the instructor so much time, and they can then use that extra time to do other more important things (Broad compares this argument to the one made by the people who marketed vacuums to women in the 20th century). While these items do actually make tasks easier, the result isn’t free time, it’s time you’re then forced to use for other things. In the case of the instructor, it’s teaching students how to write for the machine, not how to actually write. Broad closes the essay by saying he isn’t totally, 100% opposed to AES. If they can make a machine that can actually assess rhetorical choices instead of just facts and sentence structure, then he would consider using it in the classroom.
- That what we’re trying to teach students about writing (i.e. how to make rhetorical choices effectively) are much more important than things like paragraph length, sentence structure, and being 100% factual.
- That ETS only claims to listen to instructors about what they want/need, and instead tries too hard to shape what teachers are doing.
- That the time freed up by using AES would immediately be redirected into some other non-essential task.
Points of Interest
- I thought the AES : Teachers :: Vacuum/Stove : Women example that Broad starts this essay with was a really interesting comparison. Not only for the explicit reasons that Broad states, but also because it subtly paints AES as being something that merely handles an unpleasant task as opposed to actually benefitting students/teachers.
- I also liked the way that Broad remained hopeful that one day AES could actually be useful, it just needs to focus on what we’re actually teaching, not just what ETS is capable of assessing at the moment.