Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: The writer makes solid points.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re "Indiana Student Essays Being Graded by Computers" (Education page, May 19):

Having computers grade essays based on correctness is as wrong-minded as evaluating paintings based on whether the artist stayed between the lines. An essay is not simply a series of grammatically correct sentences; it is a piece of writing composed with a particular audience people in mind, flavored with originality.

The most disturbing aspect of a possible trend toward computer-evaluated essays is that it fosters dull, homogenous writing, eschewing creativity in favor of accuracy.

As an instructor of university undergraduate composition courses, I have seen my share of technically correct, boring essays. Students have become so stifled by their attempt to stick to formulaic writing learned in high school that they need to start all over learning to hash out ideas and compose interesting, well-written essays.

Katie Hughes

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.