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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

If teachers ban AI for students, can they use it for grading?

Students aren't allowed to use AI to write essays, a junior-high English teacher tells Kwame Anthony Appiah, who writes the New York Times' ethics column. But some teachers are using AI-assisted grading  to provide quick feedback and "the opportunity to edit their work before final submission." Is that hypocrisy? Or common sense?

"Should I embrace new technology and use A.I.-assisted grading to save time and my sanity even though I forbid my students from using it?" the teacher asks.

The Ethicist says the students need practice in writing essays. Teachers don't need to practice grading. "What matters is whether an A.I.-assisted platform can reliably appraise and diagnose your students’ writing, providing the explanation and guidance these students need to improve."

If the bot is reasonably good, the teachers should check the AI-annotated drafts and not issues to bring up in class, he suggests. Time saved on grading essays could be used in other ways that benefit students and can't be duplicated by AI.

AI essay grading is "probably as good as an average busy teacher," concludes a new study, reports Jill Barshay on Hechinger's Proof Points.

Tamara Tate, a researcher at University California, Irvine, and colleagues compared "how ChatGPT stacked up against humans in scoring 1,800 history and English essays written by middle and high school students," writes Barshay. It's not accurate enough -- yet -- to be used from final grades or high-stakes tests, they concluded. But it's close.

AI grading could make it practical for teachers to assign more writing, said Tate. However, “you have to be careful how you say that because you never want to take teachers out of the loop.” While students might learn more if they write more, she suggests, they might learn less if their teacher isn't monitoring their progress and noticing their mistakes.

Training AI with a few sample essays graded by the teacher would improve the bot's accuracy, Tate predicts. Her next step is to study whether bot-graded students' writing improves. Does scoring a first draft encourage rewrites?

I used to be invited to speak to English and journalism classes. I'd give them my six-word advice on how to improve their writing: "Read a lot. Write a lot." (The short version is two words.)

I've observed busy teachers having students read and critique each other's drafts. I think that's useless. Students aren't able to provide useful feedback -- and they tend to be too nice to each other.

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3 commentaires

amazing Career
amazing Career
14 juin

Grading practice is not required of teachers. The important question is whether the AI-powered platform can accurately evaluate and diagnose students' writing and give them the feedback and clarifications they require to get better. Happy Wheels


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
28 mai

My students regularly read & critique each others' drafts, and their feedback is far from useless. I encourage them to be nice to each other, especially when they are younger; I require them to look for something strong in the draft, and expect them to suggest how it might be improved, thus adapting feedback instruction in the Ivy League, which is regularly taught to those university colleges' students.

05 juin
En réponse à

Agreed. We do feedback in math class, working in teams. Students come up with an idea and explain it to their teammates. The teammates then point out flaws in the argument and offer alternatives. I don't see why anyone would think that students can't provide useful feedback to each other in writing also.

Which, of course, has little or nothing to do with using AI. My biggest objection to using AI would be that I then lose any sense of how the kids are doing and in what areas they are struggling. My job as a teacher is to figure that out so as to remediate and supplement when necessary. Take away the eyes on aspect of grading and w…

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