Handbook of Writing Research

By Charles A. MacArthur; Steve Graham et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 27
Applications of Computers
in Assessment and Analysis of Writing

Mark D. Shermis, Jill Burstein, and Claudia Leacock

It has been almost 40 years since Ellis "Bo" Page prophesized the imminence of grading essays by computer. As a former high school English teacher, he envisioned a world where computers could assist in reducing the burden of grading written English. Later, as a seminal educational researcher, his desire was to implement a system that would operationalize what 50 years of research has shown us: Students become better writers by writing more. His landmark article in Phi Delta Kappan (Page, 1966) forecast this, but it took another 7 years to produce a working model (Ajay, Tillett, & Page, 1973) using FORTRAN code and a large mainframe computer. The result was Project Essay Grade (PEG). In order to submit text to the essay grader, written documents had to be transferred to awkward IBM 80-column punched cards, an overwhelming task for the technology of the day. Beyond this handicap, the technology performed as well or better than the ratings assigned by humans (Ajay et al., 1973).

In the early 1990s, Page refashioned PEG with a more sophisticated parser, real-time calculations, and a Web-based interface (Shermis, Mzumara, Olson, & Harrington, 2001). The details of this new format are explored further in this chapter, demonstrating the way automated essay scoring (AES) works, the kinds of software programs it uses, and some emerging applications.

AES is the evaluation of written work via computers. Initial research restricted AES to English but has recently extended to Japanese (Kawate-Mierzejewska, 2003), Hebrew (Vantage Learning, n.d.), Bahasa (Vantage Learning, 2002), and other languages. The interfaces are predominantly Internet-based, though there are some implementations that use CD-ROMs.

Most packages place documents within an electronic portfolio. They provide a holistic assessment of the writing, which can be supplemented by trait scores based on an established rubric, and may provide qualitative critiques through discourse analysis. Most use ratings from humans as the criterion for determining accuracy of performance, though some of the packages will permit validation against other sources of information (e.g., large informational databases).

Obviously, computers do not "understand" written messages in the same way that humans do, a point that maybeunnerving until one reflects on ways alternative technologies achieve similar results. Thus, cooking was once associated primarily with convection heating, a form of heating external to the food. But by thinking "outside the box," we can see that the same outcome can be achieved by a technology not based on convection, but on molecular activity within the uncooked items (i.e., the microwave oven).

-403-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Writing Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 468

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.