Skeptics object that machines can be fooled and that robo-graders threaten “the idea that reading and writing are uniquely human.” While it’s obviously impossible for a robot to judge a paper’s creative or literary merit, being able to assign students essays rather than multiple choice tests could revolutionize science teaching.
Posted on March 22, 2013 The word ‘computer’ means someone or something who computes.
Multiple-choice tests are a pretty terrible way of measuring students’ understanding of complex concepts, but overextended teachers rely on fill-in-the-bubble exams because they’re easy to mark.
There may be a better alternative: Scientists have created software that can grade short-answer essays in five seconds—and a new paper in the A group of researchers, led by Elizabeth Beggrow at the Ohio State University, assessed science students’ understanding of key ideas about evolution using four methods: multiple-choice tests, human-scored written explanations, computer-scored written explanations, and clinical oral interviews.
Multiple choice assessments simply cannot assess students’ communication and explanation abilities.
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This is not the first hint we’ve had that machines may be capable of grading long-answer tests; last year, a study found a high degree of similarity between human and computer-generated scores of over 20,000 middle- and high-school essays on a variety of topics.Students’ level of understanding was quantified based on how often they answered questions using appropriate "normative" scientific ideas—for example, that species evolve in response to competition or limited resources—as opposed to "naïve" or non-normative ideas, like that acquired traits are heritable or that evolution is a goal-directed process.When Beggrow and her team analyzed the data, they found that professors’ and computers’ scores of students’ short essays were almost identical—the correlation was 0.96 to 1—and that the correlation between interviews and short-essay scores (0.56) was stronger than the one between interviews and multiple-choice answers (0.34).Since the 1940’s, there has been four generations of computers with the pros and cons attached.So how did the first computer come about and how has it changed over the years? The 1st generation of computers was from 1940 to 1955.It covered 1800 square feet of floor space and weighed 30 tons.In one second, the ENIAC could workout 5,000 additions, 357 multiplications or 38 divisions.Clinical interviews—which allow professors to ask follow-up questions and engage students in dialogue—are considered ideal, but would be an impractical drain on teachers’ time; in this study, the clinical interviews lasted 14 minutes on average, and some took nearly half an hour.Machines, on the other hand, could generate a score in less than five seconds, though they took a few minutes to set up.Computers were powered by vacuum tubes and used magnetic drums to store data and memory.The vacuum tube controlled the electric current through a sealed container.