Curbing grade inflation by giving grading to outsiders, even computers

This model has professors who teach material and do research while others do the actual grading:

The best way to eliminate grade inflation is to take professors out of the grading process: Replace them with professional evaluators who never meet the students, and who don’t worry that students will punish harsh grades with poor reviews. That’s the argument made by leaders of Western Governors University, which has hired 300 adjunct professors who do nothing but grade student work.

A provocative idea that may prove to be better than the traditional model, especially for lower-level courses. High-level courses require a specialization and familiarity with the material that this model may not afford.

I’m skeptical of the idea that computers can grade essays better than humans, especially any writing of real substance, but there are those who argue for that model:

A few others, including the University of Central Florida, now outsource the scoring of some essay tests to computers. Their software can grade essays thanks to improvements in artificial-intelligence techniques. Software has no emotional biases, either, and one Florida instructor says machines have proved more fair and balanced in grading than humans have.

I would have to imagine these essays are low level, and the grading is mostly focused on grammar, syntax and word choice. But good writing — writing that is enjoyable to read just for the writing itself — is much more of an art than a science.



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