AI-Assisted Grading: An English Teacher’s Dream Come True
Many of us teach writing because we love to write and want to see our students develop that same passion for the craft. One unfortunate byproduct of that goal is grading, and lots of it.
You likely start out with the best intentions and diligently review the first few papers in the pile, but by paper number 10, 20, or 50 your mind is shot and you feel like you can barely string two sentences together yourself. Sound familiar?
Whether you are grading elementary school book reports or college term papers, the process is the same—you need to balance comments on assignment requirements with correcting spelling, grammar, and syntax errors, all while treating each student equally.
The reality is that the process of grading papers has remained largely unchanged, even as technology has changed nearly every other aspect of our lives. Yet artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the way students engage with the writing process and how teachers give personalized feedback on essays. And the best part is that AI can meaningfully support what teachers already do so they can focus on more critical tasks.
But how does it work? Let’s first look at why grading essays and giving feedback is so daunting.
The Challenges of Grading Writing
No matter what level of education you teach, chances are you're being asked to do more with less every day. You would love to spend time thoroughly evaluating every word your students write, but the reality is that you are more likely to skim papers late at night or on the weekend.
Or, maybe you’ve been forced to abandon some writing assignments in favor of multiple choice tests and other measures that are less time consuming to grade. This sets up a difficult paradox for writers who teach—you know that the best way to become better at the craft is by practicing it but you are constrained by the amount of time and energy you have to provide meaningful feedback on that writing.
How Bringing AI Into Writing Classes Can Help
Education technology leveraging artificial intelligence corrects things like grammar, spelling, and sentence construction so you as a teacher do not have to. The papers you review will come to you already having those issues addressed so you can focus on style, argument construction, and all of the other things that make writing so special to teach.
Grading does not have to be an activity that you dread. AI can help turn it into a more meaningful experience for you and your students, rather than just checking off the boxes on a rubric or correcting misplaced commas over and over again.
So how should education technology companies be thinking about bringing AI into grading?
"What’s missing is the trajectory of a successful AI in education,” says WriteLab CEO Matthew Ramirez. “It starts with streamlining teacher to student processes and continues to good design and workflows. The question we want to answer is, ‘How can AI meaningfully support what teachers do?’”
At WriteLab, we believe the goal of AI in writing education is not to replace the vital role that teachers play. Instead, AI can enhance the instructor's role by streamlining elements of the writing and grading process so that they can spend more time helping students build higher-level skills like logic and argument construction. In this view, AI is used for a unique kind of time-saving and focused augmentation.
An Investment for Schools, Teachers, and Companies
By investing a little bit of time planning in an AI tool, you are setting yourself up for success in the long run. Once your grading parameters and assignments are in place, all you need to do is sit back and watch your students interact with the system.
WriteLab is one of several AI tools that can benefit teachers across the education spectrum. It provides fully automated feedback on spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and other common items as students write.
As an educator, you can rest easy knowing that all of your students will receive fair and consistent feedback. The app never gets tired or distracted or any number of other issues that we as humans face when trying to consistently grade student assignments.
The Future of Grading Writing
AI is now part of our lives in many ways from customer service to products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Compared to the rest of the world, the education sector is behind. The more exposure your students have to AI technology, the better prepared they’ll be to use it in whatever career path they pursue after school.
The application of AI-assisted grading and feedback on writing can help in other areas, too. For example, working professionals who are seeking to grow their communication and thinking skills. This technology can also help English language learners see errors, style issues, and issues with expressing logic in their non-native tongue.
The Benefits of Grading Faster
One thing is for sure, AI-assisted grading will save you grading time if you utilize it in the classroom. This begs the question, what will you do with that extra time?
The possibilities are endless. At the K-12 level, you can focus more on helping students who need extra attention or perhaps add more writing assignments into your lesson plans. In higher education, adjuncts can teach additional classes and full-time faculty will have more time to devote to research.
Or maybe you can just enjoy a little extra time with friends and family. The corporate world has long preached that the key to success is working smarter, not working harder. So why should education be any different?
WriteLab brings together Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, and English Language Instruction. Student writing is analyzed in seconds with the WriteLab app—giving students feedback and suggestions on how to revise and polish their draft.
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