GRADING PAPERS ELECTRONICALLY: 25 YEARS LATER
Goucher College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Abstract:In December of 1985 at the MLA Convention in Chicago, I demonstrated “A Computer-Based Comment Generator for the IBM PC” as part of the Electronic Workshop sponsored by IBM. That was a long time ago in actual years, but in computer years it was centuries. I remember that the IBM reps had to show me how to use their hard drive (40MB!) because I didn’t own one yet. My application, which allowed me to use macros to create a printed list of corrections and a final comment to attach to the student’s paper, was contained on one of those large floppy drives.
I still have those comments I made in my first semester of teaching at Goucher College in Towson, MD, but the current version of my comment generator is much more sophisticated and flexible. I would like to give a paper (with illustrations) that will show how I have completely eliminated the paper from student papers. I will demonstrate in detail how to use a tablet PC for written comments in the text, macro-generated comments on grammar and punctuation, and voice comments for more substantive comments in the text and a longer final comment on the paper as a whole. Finally, I would like to look at probable future developments, including links in the paper to online handbooks of grammar and punctuation, which will mean one less textbook for students.
The advantages of such a system are many. For example, the reduction in the use of paper is significant. Imagine the paper saved by making papers electronic at just one large university (or eliminating paper handbooks). Increased attention to environmental sustainability on many campuses makes such electronic grading of papers an attractive local step in solving a global problem. Also, more detailed and thorough comments on papers is possible, especially through the use of embedded voice comments, which can be much more detailed than notes jotted between the lines. Of course, when such detail is unnecessary, writing on the paper is still possible and even easier than with a pencil (e.g., erasures are always complete and invisible). Perhaps most important, a professor can archive all graded papers, including comments. When a student asks for a letter of recommendation, even years after graduation, you can have more to base your comments on than a vaguely remembered student and a final grade. Just open all of the papers the student wrote for you, along with grades and comments. You can even compare early to late papers or performance in early courses to later ones.
Keywords: innovation, technology.