Controversial Essay Marking Software Competition Launched
Independent programmers and education companies from around the globe are being called up to create an essay marking software- a concept which has received mix emotions.
The Australian start-up firm Kaggle has joined forces with a plethora of testing companies in America to build up a network of programmers and scientists to design an algorithm that reads and marks essays just as a teacher would.
It collected thousands of student essay writing from old standardised exams and is aiming for a machine to score and award the tests the same that the original human reader did. The competition, which closes later this month, has the grand prize of $60,000 for the programmer that gets the best results.
The engines must be able to score grammar, spelling, syntax as well as score elements of style. But it has caused controversy amongst many industry professionals who claim that a computer can never really judge writing as well as a tutor or educator.
According to IBISWorld, a market research company, the testing and educational consulting industry in the US had $15.4 billion in revenue in 2011 with an expected further growth of more than 5% over the next five years.
Arguments for the technology include the strenuous labour required grading tests and writing responses. With many authorities feeling the strain due to government budget cuts, the newest innovation of machine scoring offers an alternative, cheaper but reliable way to grade essay exams. Further cases state that teachers can become tired and miss details.
On the other hand, reasons against the concept consist of that there are gaps in the algorithms such as the ability to tell whether the content is factually correct. And the technology is still in its early stages so it is questionable whether or not it can be trusted or not.
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Whether or not the technology goes ahead is one to be debated but at least students can rest assured that all work is written by an expert, human academic from some of the UK’s top universities.
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