Have you used software to help you grade student essays? Tell me about your experience.
I teach college freshman composition (among other things), and I tend to take *way* too much time grading students essays (I don't get them back quickly enough; it also absorbs time I need for class prep and other projects). So I'm just starting to consider the idea of using some sort of software to help me grade more quickly.
I'd like to know your opinion about paper-grading software. I'm not thinking of software that automatically scores student writing (a horrible and clearly unworkable idea imho), but rather software that would in theory help me streamline my grading process by to some degree automating the process of commenting on essays.
I'm used to sitting with a clipboard, a paper, and a cup of tea. And it it weren't for my habit of hemming and hawing and thinking digressively about each of my papers, this method would be pretty good--certainly more convenient that reading and grading on a laptop, making comments in the margins via Microsoft Word.
But I've noticed that there are some errors and problems that I end up pointing out repeatedly within the same set of papers, and I feel like I might be wasting time by writing out similar comments again and again (either as marginal notes, or in my end comments). I've therefore been imagining a program that would work with Microsoft Word to allow me to create menus of user-defined notes, for insertion into papers.
My hope would be not that I'd end up providing only boilerplate comments for my students, but that I'd paste-in (with some changes) comments about common or mechanical problems, giving me a little more room to say more about the argument and method of each student's paper, over and above the more standardized remarks.
Anyhow, in a fit of procrastination, I just Googled this subject, and came across a piece of software called T.A. Toolbar
that looks pretty much like what I was envisioning (although I wish that it inserted marginal comments were into Word doc comment bubbles instead of in-line in boldface). Anyhow, they have some flash demos
posted that might give a good sense of how TA Toolbar works with both marginal and end comments. I have to say that at first blush it looks pretty interesting.
So my questions are these:
1) Have you ever used software to assist in grading college essays?
2) What software have you used, and how useful was it?
3) How did it affect the quality of the feedback you provided to students?
4) What was the reaction of your department and colleagues to your use of this software?
5) Do you feel that students read and valued this feedback as much as handwritten remarks?
Finally, if you aren't a teacher but are or have been a university-level student, what would be your attitude towards the use of this sort of software in grading your written work in an introductory college composition class?
Many thanks for any replies.