When I taught English at Utah Valley University, we were given a new computerized essay editing and essay grading system which I used for about two days and then rejected. I picked up my red pen and a stack of essays and went to work the way I always had. Why?
The computer adaptive essay editing system was not fluid. An instructor could click on “comma splices” or “run on sentences” or “capitalization problems” but could not make thematic suggestions, nor write big, curvy arrows showing students where to move things to, or scribble extensively or get sufficiently customized and close for my taste. Writing and editing are fluid processes and I felt computers weren’t fluid enough to do that well.
Now, my friend’s 7th grade daughter has been taking writing tests via computer. The test gives points for the number of adjectives she’s used in her essay, regardless of whether they fit the theme or sound moronic. The test is so non-fluid as to be ridiculous, and takes the life out of the writing process. The computer literally grades the test without an instructor even reading it.
Maybe computer adaptive testing’s different with math. Maybe it’s different with social studies. Surely there must be many benefits with Computer Adaptive Testing since we are bleeding the budget to make it happen here in Utah.
But I don’t feel good about it.