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Who Needs Teachers When You've Got Robots to Grade Essays?

Britain to Start Marking English Exams with Robots
Automated test scoring is nothing new. Most of us are quite familiar with the act of filling in little #2 pencil marks on a Scantron, and having it fed through a machine that puts a depressing little red dash next to each wrong answer. That's all well and good for tests with simple multiple choice answers, but what about tests with written answers and essay questions, like an English test? Well, Pearson, an America-based education company, will be debuting a new English proficiency exam given to students seeking admission to British universities.

The Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported that Pearson had developed an artificial intelligence program that can assess the use of grammar and vocabulary in essays. A representative from Pearson told TES that the system was just as accurate as a human marker, but removed variables like fatigue and changes in mood. The program was created by analyzing how human scorers marked tests, but academics, teachers, and common sense says that a machine will never be able to pick up on the small quirks that make for quality writing.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, told the Guardian that the expansion of electronic assessments, "could be a disaster waiting to happen." We're inclined to agree. The quality of an extended written answer is far too subjective to be judged by the cold unforgiving eye of a computer. Unfortunately automated scoring of written exams and essays becoming the norm is more a matter of when, not if. [From: TES and the Guardian]

Tags: artificial intelligence, ArtificialIntelligence, education, english, exam, test, testing, top