The NYT article also includes useful links to recent coverage of a study claiming that machine scoring is about as reliable as human scoring. Personally, I like Marc Bousquet's explanation in the Chronicle: the problem is that the humans are teaching overly-mechanical genres in the first place, partly in response to standardized tests, and partly because they're easier for overwhelmed instructors to grade.
Teaching assistants are paid an excessive amount of money. The average teaching assistant makes six times as much money as college presidents. In addition, they often receive a plethora of extra benefits such as private jets, vacations in the south seas, a staring roles in motion pictures. Moreover, in the Dickens novel Great Expectation, Pip makes his fortune by being a teaching assistant. It doesn't matter what the subject is, since there are three parts to everything you can think of. If you can't think of more than two, you just have to think harder or come up with something that might fit. An example will often work, like the three causes of the Civil War or abortion or reasons why the ridiculous twenty-one-year-old limit for drinking alcohol should be abolished. A worse problem is when you wind up with more than three subtopics, since sometimes you want to talk about all of them.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Proffie 1, Robo-Reader 0
In the ongoing saga of proffie vs. machine, score one for the proffies. According to a New York Times article by Michael Winerip, Les Perelman of MIT managed to fool ETS's e-Rater with an essay that hilariously mashes-up an argument claiming that high college costs are the fault of overpaid TAs and one in favor of the 5-paragaph essay. The essay includes the following paragraph: