Grading computer fails Churchill speech

Churchill’s speeches get low marks from a computerized grading system, British educators tell The Telegraph. “We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and on the streets . . . ” Too repetitive.

His reference to the “might of the German army” lost him marks because the computer assumed that Churchill had intended to say “might have”, instead of using “might” as a noun.

Graham Herbert, deputy head of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors, said: “The computer was limited in its scope. It couldn’t cope with metaphor and didn’t understand the purpose of the speech.

Hemingway was rated “less than average” by the computer, which said he should include more detail. Anthony Burgess was judged “incomprehensible.”

Online marking of papers is being tested by exam boards and could be introduced within the next few years. It is already in use in America, where some children have learnt to write in a style which the computer appreciates, known as “schmoozing the computer”.

Via Core Knowledge Blog.

Essay-grading software lets teachers assign a lot more writing, concludes Teacher Magazine in a 2006 story. When students write more, they improve.

. . . Criterion and other essay-grading technologies have their limitations. They can’t judge the creativity of a writing style or the inventiveness of metaphors and symbolism. And I remain skeptical that artificial intelligence can effectively differentiate between a good essay and a truly excellent one.

(Teacher Aleeta) Johnson acknowledges that Criterion is not a good tool for very sophisticated writers. It wouldn’t appreciate the skill and creativity of a budding Shakespeare, for example.

But few students are budding Shakespeares.