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Essay Exams Can Now Be Graded by a Computer

Written by Gary North on April 5, 2013

College professors love true/false exams and multiple choice exams. These can be graded by a machine. It saves so much time for overworked professors who teach 9 hours a week in the top universities. (Actually, they teach 8.5 hours: ten minutes in each class are for getting to the next class.)

Now, this intolerable teaching load is about to be reduced. Harvard and MIT have released a free computer program that grades essay exams. With these two major institutions baptizing this software, essay exams will come back . . . just not essays read by humans.

Essay exams fell out of favor a generation ago at the lower division level: the first two years. But upper division and grad school still had essay exams. This new software will lead to essay exams in lower division.

This will benefit online education. Students will not have to go into a classroom to take an exam.

As more schools adopt this, the classes will get huge. A professor will teach 10,000 students. He will not show up in a classroom.

But what happens to all the professors he replaces. They will find some other line of employment.

The overpriced private colleges will go under first. Then the big third-tier state universities will fall.

The shakeout is coming. The cost of college education will fall. The value of a B.A. degree will fall.

Today, if you know how to beat the system, you can earn an accredited B.A. degree at home for under $15,000, total. Why pay more?

With computer-graded essay exams, the collapse of the college cartel is assured.

Continue Reading on www.nytimes.com

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4 thoughts on “Essay Exams Can Now Be Graded by a Computer

  1. the collapse of the college cartel is assured.

  2. It saves so much time for overworked professors who teach 9 hours a week in the top universities. (Actually, they teach 8.5 hours: ten minutes in each class are for getting to the next class.)

    When did they go to 3 hour class sessions? Nine 50 min 'hours' = 450 minutes = 7.5 hours.

  3. icaworld says:

    Actually, teaching three or four classes a week at the college level is a lot of work. I taught as a full time adjunct, and I can testify to that. It invoves not only class time, but usually fairly extensive preparation, and, of course, exams and quizzes. And I found multiple choice exams very effective in testing students' knowledge of the subject. As to machine-graded essay questions, that's a new one. Good luck. I often had considerable trouble reading the answers to the essay questions I gave (which I combined with the multiple choice questions), what with the incredibly poor handwriting and fractured sentence structure. The danger I see in "automatized" distance learning is that it will lend further support to unspoken, but prevalent idea that everyone must pass the course. "Retention" policies are now standard in most colleges and universities, and they wreak havoc with the value of the institution's degree. An "effective" professor is one who, via student evaluations, the students like, with much less weight given to his knowledge of his field. Not surprisingly, those they like tend to be those who give them a good grade.

  4. With the collapse with the college cartel what will happen to collegiate sports?